The UNISA Big Band visited CYS on Friday August 31, to run an improvisation workshop with our music students and perform at the Barley Stacks winery. The twenty piece strong band setup in the Performing Arts Centre alongside the Concert Band students and we rehearsed a medley from the movie ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, to perform that afternoon for the school.

Improvisation workshop

Students then were grouped by instrument and assigned mentors from the band to learn (by ear) a blues arrangement. Once students were confident with their parts they were taught how to use the blues scale notes to create improvised (made-up!) solos of their own. A number of brave students then ‘soloed’ with the rest of the band providing an accompaniment.

School performance

The afternoon concluded with a short performance to the R-10 students. We played the medley (a huge sound with the extra performers!), demonstrated our improvisational skills with several CYS students soloing live in front of their peers and concluded with two energetic and entertaining jazz pieces from the Big Band. Thanks to all the visiting musicians and especially saxophonist (and old-scholar) Lucy Young for organising the challenging but rewarding workshop.

Tim Tuck | Music Coordinator