Artist in Residence - 鶹ӳ


Artist in Residence

At 鶹ӳ, our focus is firmly rooted in experiencing sound as the core element of all that we do, both in the classroom and on the concert platform.  Composition allows us to develop the “eyes” and “ears” for possibility and, hopefully, ones that ignite and remain curious and questioning.

Our focus with our Artist in Residence scheme is to create opportunities for young professional musicians to work alongside, inspire and enhance our students’ musical experiences. This not only helps to bring fresh perspectives and musical insights that develop their own skills, but also offers an insight into what life at a Conservatoire and a career in music might look like.

We welcomed Sam Gale as our first Artist in Residence. Currently studying for a master’s in jazz composition and arranging, Sam is a composer, conductor and alumnus of 鶹ӳ. From the age of 6, performance and brass playing has been at the heart of his inspiration, accumulating passions for composition, arranging, and conducting along the way.

Sam studied at the Royal College of Music Junior Department (RCMJD) for 8 years and became principal trombone of the National Youth Orchestra in 2016. He has competed in the BBC’s Young Musician of The Year Competition and was awarded a place at the LSO Brass Academy. In 2016, he became the first conducting student at RCMJD and made his debut working with Mark Anthony Turnage. In the years that followed, he gained a First-Class Honours Degree and the Concert Award for Outstanding Performance for his classical undergraduate studies at GSMD.

Sam has gone on to shape a career across the UK as a performer and composer. He has conducted orchestras and ensembles in venues such as Birmingham Symphony Hall and LSO St Luke’s, as well as directing his own 85-piece ensemble, Capital Orchestra, at Cadogan Hall.  He has had the opportunity to feature his compositions and arrangements alongside composers and bandleaders such as Tim Garland, Nikki Iles, Callum Au, and Jim McNeely, as well as conducting and arranging for the Guildhall Studio Orchestra’s most recent project ‘The Great American Songbook’ in Milton Court Concert Hall.

Within his residency at our school, Sam explored the concepts of melody and shape in a collaborative project for our A level Music and Music Technology Students. Our students created short 2 – 3 minute pieces for their own instruments, to be performed live selecting a diatonic mode and one of three given overall shapes. This gave an added dimension, in particular for our Technology students, as live instrumental performance, per se, is not an examined requirement of the course. Students were also asked to select either reverb or delay which was to be used and manipulated as “felt” during the live performance. 

Sam’s practice is based on the exploration of possibilities using a variety of approaches. Quality is an abstraction, for a creative endeavor to be successful, we must see all the way around it and understand what is possible. There also needs to be an awareness of balance, inconsistency, variation, and deliberate change. For this to be ignited, there needs to be a starting point, based on what the students see as possible.

Our students had the opportunity to “go beyond” and “step away” from the traditional exam curriculum in order to engage and connect as both composers and as performers in a more holistic way.

As composers we are required to actively think about the impact of sound and the language of music for our intended result. Exploration is key to this and allowing a student to control their own parameters allows for a less guarded approach. To this end, the repeating theme throughout the workshops and 1:1 lessons was always on our students being the “experts of their own instruments”; communicating to themselves as performers, before considering their audience. Considering how to balance simplicity with complexity; removing the notion that there is always a right or wrong answer.

Starting with a few notes that ensured clarity of intention, students were encouraged to be comfortable with selecting only four pitches but playing sixteen in total to encourage the development and exploration of phrase lengths, silence and rhythm before moving on to include tone production and discussion about the start, middle and end point of a sound in conjunction with expanding range, textural and dynamic nuances.

Once the framework of the compositions was established, Sam’s work became more nuanced. Discussion centered around how to create the idea of harmony when only writing a melodic line; how to phrase for impact; understanding what ebb and flow means and allowing things to change and considering which parameters we have the least control over.

In the final stages leading up to the performances, Sam discussed how to consider taking things out of student’s comfortable range; why flipping the intervals can create unity; what the purpose of dynamics are and why ensuring that performing each note is intentional and fully expressed.

Our students have said how much they enjoyed not worrying about being “right and wrong” and that they felt they could trust themselves far more as a result of this project. They felt that they were more honest in their approaches but found, at first, stripping things back to only a few notes a challenge. This quickly passed as they developed the idea of “phrasing without boundaries” which led to a “different way of thinking” and one that was not overly dependent upon the grammar of harmonic “rules.”

They particularly enjoyed the improvisatory and exploratory aspects of lessons as these focused on the immediate and encouraged creative, expressive responses alongside a degree of risk taking.

Our workshops afforded students the opportunity to be active in their listening and they became readily open to new perspectives which in turn, developed confidence to perform their pieces live in an equal, level playing field.

They truly were experts of their own instruments.

Caroline Gale

Director of Music; Head of Creativity


24th August 2023

鶹ӳE Results 2023

We are really pleased with today’s news of some great results at 鶹ӳE.  Results that will open many doors for the students and results that buck the national trend this year of grade deflation.  These results are amongst the best that the school has seen at 鶹ӳE level and are so as a result of the hard work and dedication of the staff team and also as a result of the work ethic shown by so very many of the children themselves.  Results distribution today went smoothly as a result of the work of the Exams and Sixth Form teams, but we must also thank the many other staff who attended earlier on this morning in order to help with the distribution of results and to offer their congratulations and support to the students themselves.  This is not an obligation by any means, but it is hugely warming when colleagues choose to give up some of their holiday time so as to see the children through to the next stage of their life journeys. Whilst much of the early part of our outgoing Year 11s’ secondary school studies were mired by the pandemic, it has been wonderful to watch them grow and develop into such wonderful young adults.  We look forward, next, to the national level data analysis that will enable us to accurately assess the amount of progress that each child has made and that we have made as a whole school.  That said, with attainment a useful proxy for progress we feel quietly confident that we have performed well as a school at 鶹ӳE level. Over the five year story that we have jointly told together, each and every student is now able to take forward something that they can feel incredibly proud of and I am delighted to be able to share with you some individual stories of success. With 40% of all grades awarded at 9-7, it is difficult to single out individual students.  Deserving of a special mention, though, are Shiv, Jasmin, Erin, Koby, Isobel, Joseph, Amelia, Bishesta, Rose, Evie, Emma, Veronica, Jack and Rebecca for achieving exceptionally high results.  We are especially proud also of Freya, Daisy and Ethan for achieving 10 or more 鶹ӳEs at grade 9 – a fantastic achievement.  In total, 30 students achieved on average 2 grades or higher than expected – Hannah, Rose, Madeleine and Freddie achieved well above their target grades – a massive well done to them.  Today represents the end of one phase of each student's education and is a terrific opportunity to recognise and celebrate what they have all achieved. We are delighted to be able to congratulate the Year 11 Class of 2023 for their fantastic results and also to wish them well as they move on to the next phase of their lives with our full support and our very best wishes for the future. For many, I am thrilled to say that this will be here at Guildford County Sixth Form and we cannot wait to welcome them and a large number of external recruits through the doors in September. Please see below some headline data for your interest.   2017/2018 2018/2019 2019/2020 2020/2021 2021/2022 2022/2023   # % # % # % # % # % # % EM5+ 103 67.32 100 62.5 98 62.82 112 68.71 123 68.33 119 66 EM4+ 122 79.74 131 81.88 135 86.54 132 80.98 152 84.44 145 80 E5+ 121 79.08 123 76.88 123 78.85 125 76.69 145 80.56 132 73 M5+ 106 69.28 107 66.88 107 68.59 120 73.62 129 71.67 136 75 S5+ 101 66.01 99 61.88 109 69.87 123 75.46 120 66.67 122 67 Grade 9 to 8 (Inc A*) 403 26.72 285 19.09 365 25.03 427 27.35 409 24.91 402 24 Grade 9 to 7 (Inc A*-A) 631 41.84 507 33.96 621 42.59 674 43.18 677 41.23 648 39.34 Grade 9 to 5 (Inc A*-B) 1057 70.09 1039 69.59 1128 77.37 1122 71.88 1244 75.76 1180 72 Grade 9 to 5 (Inc A*-C) 1112 73.74 1039 69.59 1128 77.37 1122 71.88 1244 75.76 1180 72 Grade 9 to 4 (Inc A*-C) 1240 82.23 1246 83.46 1309 89.78 1299 83.22 1430 87.09 1364 83 Progress 8 0.56 0.37 0.66 0.68 0.51 +0.43 (subject to autumn confirmation) Attainment 8 59.15 57.06 60.45 59.73 60.48 58.17 Total grades 1508 1493 1458 1561 1642 1644   This coming year, we will once again work on our genuinely held ambition to be leaders in secondary education and we will have a laser sharp focus on literacy, on leadership and on learning; delivering all of this with the love that sets us apart from many in our field and delivering it by working now on the marginal gains that will make all the difference and that will give rise to truly effective learning experiences for every single child. Read Full Article
17th August 2023

A Level Results 2023

Today we are celebrating the hard work and multiple successes of our Sixth Form students here at 鶹ӳ. Our sincere thanks go to the Sixth Form and Exams teams for making sure that the preparation for today and the results distribution morning itself ran so smoothly and also to the many other staff who attended earlier on in order to help with the delivery of results and to offer their congratulations and support to the students. We are pleased that the build up to and delivery of the summer examinations season felt once again this year as we would hope, as we continue to emerge from the pandemic.  It has also been interesting this week to read the commentary from experts in response to Ofqual’s move to return to a grading regime similar to that seen in 2019. With the politics of education put to one side, then, I am really keen for us all at County to choose to look today at the personal stories of the individual students for whom this occassion represents the culmination of this chapter in their educational journeys.  We should once again adopt the narrative of resilient learners, dedicating themselves to their studies under the leadership of exceptional colleagues from across the school – teachers, support staff and governors alike.  These are students who have worked tirelessly over a great number of years and they are now able to move on to the next stage in their education with the sense of achievement and recognition that they so richly deserve.  Before we look at the results of the cohort as a whole, I am delighted to be able to share with you some individual stories of success. Individual successes were many in a range of subject areas.  We are particularly proud of several outstanding results from these high performing students.  Joseph (A*, A*, A*, A), Eleanor (A*, A*, A*, B), Hannah (A*, A*, A*), Max (A*, A*, A*) and Daisy (A*, A*, A*). At the time of writing, 72% of all of our departing students have secured places at Universities from Aberystwyth to Edinburgh to Plymouth with 44% of those students going to university accepting places at prestigious Russell Group universities.  Three County students who held Oxbridge offers have been successful.  Joe has secured a place at Cambridge to read Engineering.  Josh is going to Oxford to read Philosophy, Politics and Economics and Isabelle has secured a place at Cambridge to study Modern and Medieval Languages.  As a Music Specialist College, we are also thrilled to celebrate with Jim as he accepts a place at the Royal Academy of Music conservatoire.  We also congratulate Thuan for securing a place at the University of the Arts of London, at the Jimmy Choo Academy. Today represents the end of one phase of each student's education and the opportunity to recognise and celebrate what they have achieved. We are delighted to be able to congratulate the Sixth Form Class of 2023 for their many achievements and also to wish them well as they move on to the next phase of their lives with our full support and our very best wishes for the future. I am hopeful that many will choose to become members of our ever growing alumni community and that we will then be able to continue to watch their successes over the years to come. Please see below some headline data for your interest. A Level Grades % A*/A 27 A*/B 52 A*/C 73 A*/D 91 A*/E 97      Read Full Article
View All News