Music is a strange art form. If you concentrate on it you can appreciate or marvel at it but it’s rarely on a list of must haves. However, a world without music would be unthinkable. Everytime you switch the TV on the radio, flick through social media,nearly everything is supported by music. Imagine booking a party without any music, or presenting a photo or video montage in silence? Music is a huge part of life at Mill Hill and the thought that music will not feature regularly is not an option!
It has been incredible to watch our nation’s artists, confined to their own homes, and out of necessity, getting creative on the internet. The same process has been happening at Mill Hill. Regular expositions of art, poetry, photography, and sport have flooded our social media outlets. From a musical point of view we discussed early on what we wanted to convey during a period of closure. ‘Music creates goodwill’ is the theme we have been working with; ‘people want to learn and people want to feel good. How do we achieve that?’
‘Let’s teach the recorder, everyone has a recorder!’ someone said.
‘And people want to play songs they know! Wouldn’t it be nice to have famous people join in!’
From just a few comments we managed to create a format that we were able to get excited about: each day we’ve been teaching a simple lesson to someone and then performing it with an Old Millhillian as a guest singer (luckily many of our OMs are like celebrity royalty … at least in Mill Hill terms). ‘Then we could do the whole thing again with a ukulele; most people have got one of those in the house too!’
It has been so much fun putting all these lessons and performances together and it has been really exciting watching how the music has engaged the wider Mill Hill community. It was also essential that we portrayed different aspects of music at the School. The fun stuff has been exactly that, fun whilst learning but we have also been sure to post some high-level music too. We are hugely grateful to our visiting music teachers who have been recording and donating performances for our Coffee Concerts every two weeks. We have had exquisite performances from solo pianists, our own organist, a professional recorder player, and a short lied recorded and sent to us from Bonn!
Getting the pupils involved has been exciting. We asked for volunteers early on to send in performances but many were understandably reluctant; however, having seen the OMs perform with great success we started to get more recorded offerings. By the end of the first week away from school we were able to put together enough footage, combined with previous rehearsal recordings for a Cyber Soirée; an online version of our postponed Jazz Soirée which can be seen below. Parents were all agreed that this was a great hit! Software learning has been something of a challenge; however, we’re all in the same boat trying to become rapidly fluent in new technical languages.
Music continues to flourish at Mill Hill be it live, on a huge scale or in the Cyber world. Whatever happens going forward, music will feature regularly in the Mill Hill week. Shakespeare proposed music as the Food of Love, at Mill Hill we hope the response will be: Play on, play on, Give us excess of it!
We are hugely grateful to the following OMs from the last 20 years who have been instrumental (and vocal) in helping get our musical cyber-culture started: Daniel Stern, Shahi, Ghani, Chad Vigano, Lydia Neophytou, Rose Miller, George Taylor, Emily Glassberg, Alec Harper, Helen Scales, Yasmin Schwitzer, Matthew Farleigh, Pippa Woodrow, Jonny Ellis, Djantai Otorbaev, Benedict Kearns, Oliver Brignall.
Mr Kevin Kyle
Director of Musical Performance