From Magna to The Royal Albert Hall

Student Voice at Magna

This article was written and photographed entirely by Year 12 Magna students:
Article by Rhys Heppenstall
Photography by Nicole Chee


Picture this. You’re just eleven years old and you’ve been given the opportunity of a lifetime. To play in an orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
A chance to shine in a world-famous location, but pretty scary stuff too. What do you think you would do? Well, there are two people, not just one person, at Magna Academy who faced that challenge.
We discovered recently that both Jarome (Year 7) and Mrs Giles (Head of Performing Arts) took on this awesome responsibility and both survived to tell their tale. We couldn’t resist. With notepad and pen in hand, we tracked them down and got them talking.
Let’s hear first from Jarome:
While attending Longfleet Primary School, Jarome was in the school’s orchestra as a cellist. His playing skills singled him out as he was not only very gifted but was dedicated and put in long hours of practice. These skills resulted in a rare invitation to appear at the Albert Hall, playing a class composition with a range of players drawn from various local schools.
By the time he got to play, Jarome was a Magna student and he chose to proudly wear his Magna blazer when he headed off for London. His journey was understandably nerve-wracking. It was a nervous time, counting down the miles and minutes. The closer he got, the more his nerves jangled but he knew he needed to keep it all under control so he could perform at his best and enjoy the experience. 
Once at the venue, the nerves calmed down as Jarome became comfortable with the environment. But the clock slowly crept forward and, as the minutes counted down to the performance, those nerves began to bother him again.
In no time at all, Jarome found himself walking out onto the vast stage. He was taken aback by how big the Hall actually was. Now, his feelings were very mixed indeed. 
Yes, he was nervous, but those nerves were now feeding a real sense of excitement.  He sat and played. As he did so, his excitement grew and the enjoyment of being on stage and playing in front of thousands of people welled up inside him. 
This was the biggest experience of his life and he was ‘in the zone’ and loving every minute of it.
As the piece came to an end, a thunderous round of applause burst from the audience and Jarome knew he had done a great job. He then got to sit in the audience and listen to all the other pieces being played and to show his appreciation to all the others playing.
Here at Magna Academy, we are so proud of what Jarome has accomplished. So much so, that we made a ‘Mastery’ banner featuring him for display around the school.
Jarome was thrilled about this.
When the banner first went up, he was new to the school and it helped him meet new friends as they noticed him on the banner and began to ask who it was. When he first confessed it was him, his friends simply couldn’t believe it. However, when they realised he wasn’t joking, they were amazed and his new-found fame quickly spread around the whole of Year 7.
Now for Mrs Giles’ own experience:
Our Head of Performing Arts had a similar experience to Jerome when she was about the same age. Mrs Giles was and is a very high-performing French horn player. She too went on a school orchestra trip aged 11 to the Royal Albert Hall to play ‘With A Little Help from My Friends’ by The Beatles. We tried to joke that The Beatles hadn’t even made their first record when Mrs Giles was at school, but Mrs Giles’ death stare was enough to convince us that jokes about her age were perhaps not required.
She had seen the Albert Hall before on TV as a very young girl and had thought then that it was a big place. But she never quite realised just how enormous it was until she got there and looked up at the splendour of that historic building.
Her junior orchestra were ushered in by the teachers through the stage door and got to have a good look around backstage. Mrs Giles noticed on these journeys that the corridors were all in one big circle. As a small girl unused to big places like this, she was pleased with this circular experience because, she told us, it meant that she wouldn’t have to worry about getting lost.
Waiting backstage, Mrs Giles noticed that the temperature of the room began to increase as the audience entered the building.
Mrs Giles nerves also increased as she began to run through in her mind everything that could possibly go wrong. A born worrier. Yet she was still excited to be able to go out there and play her piece.
At long last, it was time for Mrs Giles to walk out on stage. Just like Jarome was, she too was shocked by how big the stage was and by the size of the audience seating around her. At the time, she believed the audience was around 5,000 people. She felt tiny by comparison with the vast arena and the space around her. 
After she began to play, she became more and more relaxed, just like Jarome did all those years later, eventually just feeling extremely happy. And, after she finished her piece, she too was hit by a wave of applause from the audience that she remembers as being extremely loud. 
Then, again like Jarome, little Mrs Giles got to listen to all the other pieces being played and was able to show her appreciation by turning on a little torch she’d been given when the piece was finished. She recalls that she found the torch worrying and fun at the same time, as she didn’t always know when exactly she was expected to switch it on and because her friend managed to drop her torch on the floor in a panic to turn it on.
Both Jarome and Mrs Giles gave us the same piece of advice:
No matter what, when you are on stage you must try not to get overwhelmed and panicked as you may end up not enjoying the experience as much as you could have. Instead, you should try to stay calm and you will find that, in no time at all, the magic will take over completely.
We are so grateful to Jarome and Mrs Giles for their time. Have you got a story from your time in the limelight? If you have, please let us know.