Stoneygate Carol Service

Well done to everyone in years 3 to 8 for doing so fantastically well in the Carol Service. Everyone worked so hard to learn all the music and performed at such a high standard. I was so proud of the energy, smiles, clarity, shaping, tuning, diction, clicks, orchestras, ensembles, descants … the list goes on and on!

The readings and the school captains’ welcome were also so well delivered and showed an understanding that went beyond the years of the readers.

Special thanks go to the staff of the school, who showed their full support throughout. In particular, Mr Murphy for preparing the readers, Mr Stocks for coordinating the event, Mr Hudson, Mr James, Mr Britcliffe, Miss Hardy and Mrs Thompson for their valued musical contribution to the service, and Mr Ashwin for his piano accompaniment and energy.

A huge thank you to everyone who made it possible and for all the support of the wonderful congregation.

Have a lovely Christmas!

Mrs Ashwin

Oakham Prep Schools Music Day

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Oakham School hosted a wonderful Prep School Music Day on 6 October for singers, woodwind, brass and percussion players. It was meticulously organised and an inspirational day for us all. The theme of the music was space and we heard pieces from Star Wars, Toy Story, Thunderbirds and more. There was super coaching from a huge number of the Oakham School music staff and a great atmosphere amongst all the children. The singers tackled some very tricky music with superb energy and I never heard a complaint that a lot of it was quite high and rhythmically complex. The wind, brass and percussion players performed with a fabulous sense of rhythm and drama.

I was enormously proud of all our pupils in the performance for being part of something so special. It is always good for our children to see that others are also learning singing and musical instruments and that musical development continues at such a high standard into the senior schools.

It was lovely to see so many parents and siblings at the final concert. Thanks also to Miss Hardy, Mrs Thompson and Mr Hudson for supporting both our pupils and others in the rehearsals and concert.

Well done to the following pupils:

  • Year 8: Pippa N, Clemmie P, Freya A, Gracie F, Patrick B, Ellie B, Molly J, Georgina T
  • Year 7: Siddharth B, Spike M
  • Year 6: Liana B, Will Mc, Max W, Declan M, Hattie T, George H, George A
  • Year 5: Ivana P, Tasia D, Millie P, Evie S
  • Mrs Ashwin

Stoneygate Summer Sequence Concert

On June 11th, Stoneygate Senior and Junior Orchestras teamed up with Senior Choir and  soloists for a memorable summer concert.

This musical feast provided lots of variety and began with a dramatic entrance into the hall from the Senior Choir, a.k.a. the Jets from West Side Story. This marked the start of an exciting West Side Story set, including such classics as America and Cool. These group songs, sung from the viewpoint of both rival gangs, the Jets and Sharks (complete with bandanas), were interspersed with a lovely duet from Caitlin M. and Siddharth B. and a moving solo from Charlotte W. To conclude this section, Senior Orchestra played a fantastically energetic I Feel Pretty and Somewhere.


Later in the concert, Senior and Junior Orchestras joined forces for an impassioned performance of In the Hall of the Mountain King.

There were other notable solos, including two stunning performances on the violin by Emma D. and Sofia D. Sofia, the only Year 2 pupil in the concert, received a rapturous response for her movement from Pupil’s Concerto Number 2 by Seitz, and Emma mesmerised us all with a movement from Concerto No. 7 by Rode. We thank them for their outstanding contribution to music at Stoneygate.


Will J. brought a real sense of drama to his rendition of Cry Me a River, and Lara P. sang the show-stopping God Help the Outcasts with incredible intensity and beauty of tone. Gracie F. and Georgina T. provided the only instrumental duet of the evening, with a fantastic account of The East Neuk of Fife.


A tradition has been born, now that it has happened twice: the Year 8 singers come together to offer a musical farewell to Stoneygate. This year, the “A cappella All-stars,” ably led by Mr Ashwin with his “doo-bee-doo” bass line, sang about one of the most important aspects of school life – friendship. Their With a Little Help From My Friends was not only excellently sung, but very touching, and showed a real sense of team-spirit amongst the pupils.

Miss Katerina, the violin teacher at school, moved us all with her account of working with elderly people and children in Nepal (just before the tragic earthquake struck), then played an emotional You’ll Never Walk Alone whilst we were shown photographs from her trip. The donations taken at the end of the concert in aid of the Nepal Earthquake Appeal fetched £292.37.

Senior Choir’s closing set of songs included classical masterpieces such as Ave Maria and the beautiful Look at the World. The choir was in excellent voice and is more than ready for the up-and-coming Belgium tour.

Both choir and orchestras brought the house down at the end of the concert with an unforgettable joint performance of Let it Be.

A huge thank you to everybody involved in helping prepare this concert, especially Mr Hudson and Mrs Thompson. Mr Ashwin was kept busy at the piano with some hugely difficult accompaniments performed with sensitivity and style.

Thank you also to the families and friends of the pupils taking part, whose huge support of music at Stoneygate is incredibly valued.

Mrs Ashwin

A quick addition (Mr Ashwin typing): I’m sure all of you will join me in thanking Mrs Ashwin for her unfailing commitment, musicianship and enthusiasm for music-making at Stoneygate. Without her, where would we be?!

The Great Tune Robbery – Uppingham Orchestra Day!

Playing with nearly 350 other musicians is not something you forget very easily! On Thursday 5th March, Stoneygate School took all 28 members of our orchestras to Uppingham School for their annual Prep School Orchestral Day.

The general structure of the day is a welcome, sectional rehearsals, lunch, massed rehearsal, sectional rehearsals and concert. When we were getting seated, we realised an enormous coincidence:  the main piece of the concert, entitled The Great Tune Robbery, was all about the melody of Happy Birthday and it happened to be Emma D’s birthday. This was fantastic as Emma had already been chosen to be the leader of the orchestra and it just made it all extra special. This is the sixth time that Stoneygate has been the school of the leader and we are very proud of them!

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The concert was very well attended and it was lovely to see so many parents, sibling and grandparents there. Our pupils ranged from Sofia D in Year 2 (I believe one of only two Year 2 pupils there) to our experienced wind and brass players in Year 7. Our flautists, Gracie, Ellie and Molly, really lead the flute section. We had a good number of pupils, especially in the brass section, that had never been to the orchestra day before. They did really well and kept apace: it is a day that takes stamina and concentration. I hope that many of these first-timers will be back for many more.


 It was also super to see Oliver T (who left Stoneygate in 2014 to go to Uppingham) playing in their Jazz Orchestra on the trumpet. It is always lovely to see past pupils flourishing musically in their new schools.

Well done to all:

  • Flute: Eleanor B, Gracie F, Francesca J, Molly J, Millie P, Evie S, Amy W.
  • Clarinet: Emily M, Georgina T.
  • Saxophone: Freya A, Pippa N.
  • Tenor Horn: Harry H
  • Trumpet/Cornet: Harris A, George H, Harry L, Hattie T,.
  • Trombone: Patrick B, Eleanor N.
  • Baritone: Daisy P.
  • Percussion: Bertie L, Spike M.
  • Guitar: George A, Declan M.
  • Violin: Emma D, Sofia D, Lucas H, Ivana P, Henry T.

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 Thank you to Mr Hudson and Mrs Thompson for preparing the orchestra so well and guiding our pupils and others through the concert.

Mrs Ashwin

Carol Service Spectacular

Huge thanks to all for a superb Carol Service. It was a big team effort and so many people worked incredibly hard to pull it all together.

The different elements all had a special role to play. The Year 8 readers read with poise, confidence and beautiful clarity. It was lovely to introduce our Junior Orchestra alongside the Senior Orchestra, who played delightfully. The samba kit had its first performance with a great team of Year 7 players. The drumline was a key feature of the Carol Service this year and they played with such style. The Junior Choir sang ever so well and remembered their moves and words. The Senior Choir made a superb sound and performed at their best. The school singing as a whole was something really special. This massed sound, where everyone contributes is so important and should reflect how we feel about our school community and the wider community: individual effort improving the result and outcome for everyone. I should also mention the contribution of the congregation in their singing of the carols. Thank you so much for singing with the children. It is important for them to know that music is something for everyone at every point in their lives. IMG_6164 IMG_6155 (2) IMG_6158 IMG_6147 IMG_6181   Mrs Ashwin

Carol Service Preparations

Rehearsals are well underway for this year’s Carol Service. It will be held on Thursday 11 December at 2.30pm in St James the Greater Church, Leicester. It involves all pupils from Yr 3 – 8 and we have a few special touches this year.

The Little Drummer Boy will feature a drumline – seen below. They are being rehearsed by Mr Hudson and it is going very well. You see them rehearsing on wooden stools in order to preserve their hearing!

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Make a Joyful Noise has been specially written for the Carol Service by Mr Ashwin. This will feature a samba group and they also rehearsed today (although I was so busy with my whistle that I forgot to take a picture!). This has been inspired by our work with Mr Davis from Oakham School and we will be playing our new samba kit instruments for the first time in public. Many thanks to the SSA for their help in funding these instruments: we love them!

Junior Choir and Senior Choir are making great progress on their pieces and the memorising is starting to click into place. Junior Orchestra will make its first appearance at the Carol Service, playing a medley of Christmas melodies and Senior Orchestra has been working hard since September on their two pieces. I am delighted with their effort and enthusiasm and look forward to sharing the music with family and friends in St James the Greater.

Mrs Ashwin

Fund-raising for Music Therapy

The Summer Sequence Concert on 12 June raised a total of £253.56 – a fantastic amount. I was very happy to send a cheque to the Nordoff-Robbins charity for £80. This charity does super work with adults and children, helping them through music therapy.

If you want to know more about this charity, please visit their website and see what music therapy is all about: 

Mrs Ashwin



Stoneygate Summer Sequence 2014

On Thursday 12 June, the Senior Choir, Orchestra and assorted soloists and ensembles gave a performance of which they can be rightly proud. It’s hard to know where to begin in writing about a concert which had special moment upon special moment, but a couple must be highlighted! The Barbershop Boys (Sam N, Sam A, Oliver T and Mr Ashwin) delighted the audience with their witty and stylistic performance of Sam Cooke’s Wonderful World (complete with shades and great solo from Sam N). All the vocal solos were sung beautifully, with a sense of ownership of the music and Eleanor B’s flute solo was poignant and phrased very well. We were very lucky to have secured Ed Barker as a soloist and he gave a superb rendition of She’s out of my life and also duetted with Mr Ashwin in Gershwin’s Summertime. I have had so many positive comments about the role they played in the concert and in showing our pupils the heights to which they can aspire.

The principle ensembles featured in the concert were Senior Choir and Orchestra. They brought their ‘A game’ with them and really performed. I was pleased that we pulled off an a capella performance of I’ll tell me ma and also the classical favourite Ave Verum Corpus by Mozart. We closed with a claptastic rendition of Pharrell Williams’ Happy

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The Orchestra also did really well and played some tricky music, conducted by Mr Hudson, Mrs Thompson and myself. I was impressed by the concentration showed and the way that everyone came together. Orchestral playing is a team effort, and it was great to have the support of Miss Hardy, Mr Ashwin and Ed Barker.

I must mention Sam A’s performance of Smetana’s From the Native Country, as well as Mr Ashwin’s accompaniment of this piece – a dream team! Sam, and all of the musicians going on to new schools, will be missed.

Compliments to the audience for their incredibly warm reaction and applause to every piece, and for their generous donations. I will update you on the final figure raised and how it will be used in a blog next week.

Many thanks to all involved in the concert – from the SSA (who served refreshment before the concert) to the audience, staff involved and children singing and playing.

Mrs Ashwin

Uppingham School Prep Schools Orchestral Day

On Thursday 27 February, our Orchestra made the journey to Uppingham School for their annual Orchestral Day. We were to make up part of a HUGE orchestra of 400 players! It was a very special day and involved lots of playing and listening, as well as running around and eating. We were coached by some of Uppingham’s teachers, who were patient, inspirational and great fun!


The concert was very well attended and started with a brilliant performance from the Uppingham School Big Band. We then heard the Prep Schools String Orchestra playing Spooks – a piece about ghosts and ghouls. It showcased many string techniques, including a horribly (deliberately) screechy sound made by playing behind the violin bridge. The Prep Schools Wind Band then played the themes from Star Wars, Jurassic Park and E.T. with real style and energy.


The main focus of the day, however, was on Tiddy Mun, a specially commissioned work, featuring a story of the marsh folk of the fens. The highlight for me was the percussion section playing their kazoos to mimic the call of a peewit! This long piece demanded concentration and involved counting and following the beat very closely. It was very effective in performance and the audience really seemed to enjoy it.


All twenty three of our Orchestra members enjoyed themselves greatly and they represented the school very well. Deserving particular mention is Sam A, who was chosen to be Leader of the Orchestra, for the fourth year in a row. Also deserving special mention are Evie and Millie, from Year 3, who were our youngest players this year.

Mrs Ashwin