Demonstrating Their Expertise

There is a very popular You Tube clip featuring the acclaimed singer, Adele. The clip, which has had 77,935,957 views (at last count!), is called Adele at the BBC: When Adele wasn’t Adele… but was Jenny! and appeared on the Graham Norton Show. In this clip, Adele is auditioning for a part as an Adele impersonator with several other would-be performers. The fun in the clip is that Adele has prosthetic make up on and is ‘Jenny’ with her true identity hidden. Each performer sings one of Adele’s best-known songs Make You Feel My Love, with ‘Jenny’ performing last. It is worth watching. 

This week I had an Adele moment. I was walking into Sherren House and from the Drawing Room I could hear this same beautiful song being sung. As I entered the room, I could see it was one of our students, Scarlett Pringle in Year 10, performing this song in the most sublime and beautiful way. As music can do sometimes, it brought a tear to my eye, such was the emotional effect the music had on me. 

Acclaimed pianist, Mr Coady Green provided a Masterclass for select Year 10 Music students

What I had encountered was a masterclass for a select group of our talented Year 10 students. Conducting the class was Mr Coady Green, who is one Australia’s busiest concert pianists. It has been said of Coady that he is “a virtuoso pianist with sensitivity, intelligence and charm,” and “accurate and exhilarating” (Musical Opinion, London). Coady now teaches piano and lectures on the performance of staff at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, at the University of Melbourne. He frequently delivers masterclasses within Europe and the USA. You can read more about Coady here. Our Year 10 students attending the masterclass each had their own specialty in Music, including singing, an oboe player, a harpist and two pianists. The students were Lilla Barrington – Voice, Chloe (Coco) Butterfield – Piano, Maeli Davenport – Oboe, Scarlett Pringle – Voice, Yang (Doris) Song – Harp, and Zixuan (Sunny) Zhao – Piano.

As each girl performed their musical piece, Coady would dissect an aspect of their performance and suggest a subtle variation of technique or a change in emphasis for improvement. The girls would then perform a small part of the performance again. The concentration of the girls was intense as was their attention to the performance. You could see in the other girls, as they watched each other perform, how intently they were thinking and comparing what was being discussed, and how this might be relevant for their own performances. This was learning and teaching at its best. We had a master practitioner being a mentor for aspirant performers. The eagerness to improve by the girls was palpable. 

Being exposed to high performers at close quarters and being mentored plays a critical role in the education of a person. Those who excel in life have usually had another person alongside them providing advice, support, and wisdom, especially in their early or formative years.  

I was extraordinarily fortunate to have a career where I have been supported by mentors. In my very first year of teaching, I was taken under the wing of an experienced teacher, Norm. There were many golden words which came from him. The most important for an enthusiastic and young teacher was, “We are only here for the kids. Everything you do has to be focused on that, always.” Over the first few years of my teaching, Norm was always there with advice on how to improve and to ensure you did your teaching with purpose and care. His words remind me of Gail Kelly, former CEO of Westpac, who said: 

“Whatever you are doing, give it all of your attention. Prioritise what you’re going to do carefully, and then be in the moment.” 

Year 10, Scarlett Pringle wowed the audience at Jazz Night with her rendition of ‘Make You Feel My Love’ by Adele

This is what I have seen in our Performing Arts program in recent weeks. It has been a busy time at St Catherine’s. Last week I wrote about Urinetown, the brilliant musical performed by our Senior School students. This week saw the newly named Jamie and Rebecca Gray Theatre come to life in the guise of a night club with Jazz Night. Once again, the talent put on by our students was a sight to behold. This included Scarlett performing the Adele song again, but this time in a superb venue complete with sound and lighting. It was simply stunning. Every performance on the night was a showcase of our students and reflective of the talent and passion of our Music staff who work with such dedication to support our students. 

The YouTube clip I mentioned at the beginning of this piece demonstrated an acclaimed performer having some fun. What the video also illustrated was a performer at the peak of her powers and the influence she had on a group of singers. She was a mentor to them. Scarlett knew she was in the presence of a highly skilled and knowledgeable professional who critiqued and supported her singing. Coady Green provided expert guidance to her and the other girls in the Masterclass. This is what our teachers do every day for our students. They support them, they give advice, they demonstrate their expertise.  

A full gallery of images from Jazz Night are available to view and download via our myPhotos platform here

Mr Rob Marshall, Acting Principal