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Sober sounds

A common misconception about students is that they find inspiration in alcohol and little else. This cynical idea was successfully disproved by a group of ebullient musicians from Dorset secondary schools - Shaftesbury, Gillingham, and Blandford - who took part in a composing course with an ensemble from the Bournemouth Sinfonietta last December.

The course was designed and controlled by Andy Baker, professional musician with the Bournemouth orchestra and all-round good bloke. His encouragement and useful and knowledgeable criticisms proved invaluable, and served as a firm platform from which the students could develop their own ideas.

The rest of the ensemble comprised a flautist, saxophonist clarinettist, an electric guitarist, a doubleelectric bassist, and a violectra (an electronic hybrid based on the more traditional violin and viola). All composers were given the task of writing a three-minute piece for the ensemble, based on a provocative afternoon session spent with the musicians at Poole Arts Centre. Here, instrument ranges were explored, sounds exploited, and students educated in an array of musicianship, establishing the foundations for many exciting compositions.

The recording session in the studio at Shaftesbury School Chapel Arts Centre, one Sunday in March, resulted in the convergence of fresh ideas, learned experience, and enthusiasm, producing a diverse, stimulating sound. All pieces submitted are to be recorded on to CD, for the benefit of the students, and as a lasting reminder of the talent that exists in the area. I'll drink to that.

David Norton is a student in Shaftesbury School's upper sixth

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