On the way to Grade 1

The Grade One Orchestra in action

Catherine Underhill (year 3) gives us a mid-year update on MuSoc’s new project, in which Music students are being sponsored to achieve ABRSM grade 1 in a brand-new instrument: The Grade One-a-thon is going very well so far and some big steps forward have been made!
First of all, the Music Department generously lent us enough money to purchase one copy per candidate for us all to have before the Christmas period. At the same time, I applied for SUSU’s (Southampton University Student Union) ‘Innovations’ funding pot, and was invited along to give a presentation. The presentation went well but the questions at the end were tough.

I was thrilled to hear the next day that I had received the full amount of funding I had asked for! All the participants were too – this was brilliant news.  I was lucky enough to be able to reimburse the Music department and move forward with the whole project. The funding has covered the cost of the books for every candidate and it will cover 2/3 of their exam fees; we will be able to afford accompanists for the duration of the exams. Receiving the funding was a huge relief for me in particular, and everyone was absolutely thrilled.

The books arrived and were given to all the participants on the final day of term. On the same day, the Grade one-a-thon participants became the ‘Grade One Orchestra’ and performed Jingle Bells (arr. Bekah Withers) in the Music Department Lunchtime Concert on Friday 14 December 2014. We opened the annual Christmas concert, which was wonderful. The performance was greatly received – there was loud applause and laughter simultaneously – and everyone who performed did so well (bearing in mind some of the participants had only had 1 lesson prior to this public performance!) A special mention goes to Hannah Preston who took the concert hall and performed a tuba solo – again, a marvellous performance!IMG_2991

Most recently I have been arranging accompanists for the exam and working out dates to ensure that everyone is able to make their exam. As we are all university students, it is very tricky to find times when everyone is available. The ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music) have been very generous and are able to offer us an examiner to the university and on a date of our choice outside of the exam season. I am in the process of finding a date and entering everyone for this which will be the final hurdle before the main event – the exam!

IMG_2987It has been wonderful to be able to move so far forward with this project and I speak on behalf of everyone involved that we are hugely grateful to SUSU for this funding and very excited for what the future of the project holds. The plan is to expand in future years, so if you would like to join the Grade One-a-Thon in 2015 then please email gradeoneathon.soton@outlook.com to register your interest and we will ensure your name is added to the mailing list for 2015/2016.