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Creative students find new outlets online in lockdown

Friday 3 July 2020

Pupils and staff at The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL) have found inventive ways to stay creative this term, as the nation’s cultural life shifted from physical spaces to virtual venues during lockdown.

Music, art and drama activities all continued in pupils’ homes, while technology kept them connected and collaborating.

Singers from across the GSAL community put their hearts and souls into an uplifting performance of the classic Ben E King song, Stand by Me. The song was performed by 70 singers and 12 instrumentalists who answered the call to create GSAL Virtual Voices.

Head of music, Pippa Sidwell, recorded rehearsals from home which were shared online. Head of co-curricular music and bassist, Adrian Knowles, and peripatetic guitar teacher, Alex Hogg, recorded the backing track. Leeds Media Services compiled the video from individuals who filmed their performances at home.

Mrs Sidwell said: “Stand by Me was an obvious choice of song as it has become a regular on choir tours and the sentiments behind the lyrics seemed so appropriate. We’ve had a lot of fun putting this all together, with pupils, parents, staff and alumni crossing all generations.”

Since school closed in March, Mr Knowles has encouraged GSAL’s young musicians to keep playing and singing at home, sharing their performances online.

The annual outdoor Shakespeare production has been a summer highlight at GSAL for the last 11 years. Whilst lockdown put paid to the traditional promenade performance in the courtyard, the cast and crew of Y7 to Y12 students decided the show must go on.

Familiar with Microsoft Teams from their online lessons, the students utilised the platform to coordinate remote rehearsals for The Tempest. They are planning to perform the play in the autumn term – rain or shine – and compiled a video of their remote rehearsals.

Unable to access the art and design department during lockdown, students nonetheless continued to create amazing artworks at home, inspired by the extraordinary experience of being in lockdown.

Watch GSAL Virtual Voices perform Stand By Me, and visit GSAL’s YouTube channel and Facebook page to find more videos and artwork created during lockdown.

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