Extra Curricular Timetables

Anyone can go to these weekly sessions and can join at any time of year, although most tend to settle into fixed groups that rehearse weekly, aiming to perform at the school concerts. There are two ‘whole school’ concerts, in the Spring and Autumn terms, and the woodwind and brass groups feed into both the Concert Band and the Toot Hill Big Band. The primary platform for the rock bands is the T-Fest.

Along with Jazz, String, Flute and other activities, the Extra Curricular programme provides diverse opportunities for ensemble music making, all free of charge.

T-Fest

Since its inaugural staging in 2015, the T-Fest music Festival has become a massive fund raiser for local charities and a great stage for students to showcase many skills. With a huge covered outdoor stage creating a ‘Glasto’ feel, the top field at Toot Hill School becomes the venue for a fun-filled festival with a fundraising focus. Up on stage our student rock bands give it their all, with a professional sound crew to take the music to the max. Meanwhile, around the park, over 40 stalls run by students generate more money for a charity chosen by the students themselves. The karaoke hour is always interesting (though not always for the right reasons) and the session from the Music Department Staff Band is a highlight (or so we like to think). And there is always a guest artist to provide a professional flourish and many autographs at the end of the day!

Folk Band

Under the inspirational direction of Kate Hendry the Toot Hill Folk Band is really building momentum. The highlight of the year is the gig in June at Barnstone Ceilidh, organized by the Barnstone Brownies. Money is raised for the Nottingham Children’s Hospital Paediatric Fund where our Caller, Charlie Charlton, is a Paediatric Surgeon. The band also entertains in-house at our Ceilidh Day for Year 7’s, where much fun is had as 150 students get time off lessons to try a bit of folk dancing egged on by the band. Kate also creates regular opportunities for our students to gig with her own Ceilidh band several times a year.

Toot Hill Big Band

A band re-born

Today the Toot Hill Big Band is thriving, playing to audiences of thousands at numerous local events, from Bingham Bonfire Night to East Bridgford Summer Show. But back in 2009, when current Head of Music Briony Prior first began teaching at Toot Hill, the picture was very different. The story she tells is one of inspiration, determination, teamwork, talent and community spirit.

“When I arrived in 2009 there was no Big Band, which was a shame considering what had gone before. From the mid 1970’s until 2007, the Toot Hill Dance Band had built up a legendary reputation. People had heard of them from far and wide - even me, recently arrived from South Africa! Their founder, leader and inspiration was Colin Smith, who received an MBE for his services to music and a national award for School and Community Involvement. They disbanded on Colin's (semi) retirement in 2007. Now there were just four 6th formers who had played in the band since Year 7, jamming some trad jazz on Monday afternoons after school. But when I heard them play I was knocked out, and stayed behind to lend support on piano. Colin was still doing some part-time teaching at the school, and when I discovered the incredible library of Big Band music he’d built up I decided it was time for a revival – especially as I would have Colin’s support on the trombone!

It wasn’t plain sailing to begin with but we persevered, and things really turned a corner when Tony Farrell, of the Tony Farrell Big Band, took over the leadership and musical direction of the band in 2015. Now it’s a successful gigging band, with piano, bass, drums, baritone sax, two tenor saxes, several alto saxes, four trumpets and two trombones. In fact, it’s very much a community band, with the students supported by alumni, staff, local musicians and even a parent participating. Some of the alumni from the old Toot Hill Dance Band go way back, as far as 35 years!

The Concert Calendar shows the range of gigs and it’s growing all the time as enquiries for new bookings keep coming in. The Bingham Bonfire Night has become an annual highlight although sadly a clash of dates meant we had to give it a miss in 2017. June and July is our busiest period with various summer fairs, but other times of the year are catching up fast!

It’s all come a long way in a very short time, thanks to the passion and commitment of a great bunch of people. It’s a privilege to be part of such a great team.”

May 2018

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