Peter Byrne? The
School
Orchestra
M. Doyle
Form 5

The past year has seen a good deal of activity in the founding of a school orchestral society, a project previously impracticable owing to the lack of a well-established Music Department. However, since the appointment of Mr. Byrne as Director of Music in January 1965, there has been an ever-increasing spread of enthusiasm throughout the school for music of all kinds, and the response of both parents and pupils to the suggestion of starting a school orchestra has been very encouraging. Unfortunately, it was found impossible to enlist official aid to finance the idea and this meant the school had to go-it-alone. Mr. Byrne came to the rescue by arranging a scheme by which anyone keen to learn to play an orchestral instrument was able to buy his own instrument fairly painlessly, and in addition have a weekly lesson in school for a regular subscription of as little as five shillings per week to a lesson fund. Instruments costing between 10 - 75 have been purchased to a total so far of around 1200, and our thanks are due to our parents for making this possible.

Mr. Byrne appointed visiting teachers from amongst his friends in the professional world of music, and just over a year ago the first lessons were held. No doubt the first few lessons tested the patience of both teacher and pupil, the majority of the boys starting from scratch -especially in the case of the violinists. What sounds came from various parts of the school during those pioneering weeks: However, they are now becoming more bearable. As our teachers say: "Half-an-hour's practice a day doth keep squeaks, whirrs and rattles away."

Gradually the pupils acquired some orthodox techniques and soon we could find our way around our instruments. Progress was made from strength to strength, and after only one year ten pupils took their first music examination (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music -Grade 111.)*

Urgently needed to make up a full complement are some cellos, bassoons and a bass. A bass is available in school and percussion instruments are being collected, despite shortage of funds. Lessons can be arranged as soon as an instrument has been acquired, and a recruiting campaign was under way in the lower school at the time of going to press. The opportunity is great, and will give the lie to those people who in the future may say: "I never had the chance." The only disappointing thing is the number of those who have unashamedly thrown in the towel over the past year - 25 boys have taken home nearly 500 worth of instruments which will probably not see the light of day again. The membership at present includes three flutes, one oboe, five clarinets, five trumpets, two horns, one trombone, sixteen violins and two violas. There are vacancies in all departments.

Ensemble playing has been started recently and at Christmas we are planning the annual Carol Service with orchestral accompaniment.

All the participants owe a great deal to Mr. Byrne, who has worked incessantly to enable this very worthwhile scheme to take shape, and to our teachers, who travel often great distances between engagements in order to pass on their expert knowledge to us.

M. Doyle. Form 5.

*Late flash - all 10 pupils passed!


| 1968 Magazine Index | HOME |