100 Years of Jazz: Ragtime


Blog by Louise Balkwill

In our last blog, we looked at Congo Square and the origins of Jazz music. Now we visit the 1890’s, when Ragtime appeared in its earliest form.

Unlike the earlier music of Congo Square that was passed down aurally from generation to generation, Ragtime music gained popularity through being passed around as sheet music, and is thought to be the first written ‘pop’ music – Blues, in contrast, was thought by the higher classes to be a lower class rural music (although very important in the history of jazz – we will have a listen to some blues in the next blog.)

Named ‘Ragtime’ because of its ragged, syncopated rhythms, the music became very popular for dances and was written mainly by middle class African American musicians who had gained influence from minstrelsy and classical music, as well as the improvised and traditional music of Congo Square. The music was accompanied by a dance called the ‘Cakewalk’ – this made way for endless variations that the kids of the time loved to get their feet into. Ragtime music was also a very popular choice to accompany silent films in its later years. You might well have heard of “The Entertainer” (or even played it for one of your grade exams); this is a Ragtime piece written by Scott Joplin, the celebrated “King of Ragtime” in 1902, 115 years ago!

Ragtime started off as a music witten only for solo piano, but in the early 1900’s, orchestral and ensemble arrangements became popular. The violin then became the main leading instrument in these ragtime ensembles with this popular line-up:

  • Melody: First Violin (or Cornet with second Cornet harmonies)
  • Beats 2 and 4: Second Violin (prior to the banjo)
  • Beats 1 and 3: Bass Viol
  • *Obbligato: Piccolo or Clarinet
  • Bassline: Trombone
  • Percussion: Strict time drumming

*Obbligato, (Italian: “obligatory”), in music, essential but subordinate instrumental part. For example, in an 18th-century aria with trumpet obbligato, the trumpet part, although serving as accompaniment to the voice, may be as brilliant in its writing as that of the voice itself.

Fancy having a go at learning some Ragtime Piano?

Check out this video with on-screen sheet music of the first known rag, written by the first published African American composer, Tom Turpin!

(If you liked that, check out YouTube user RagtimeDorianHenry’s other ragtime videos!)

In the next blog, we’ll be looking at early blues and how it has played a massive part in the evolution of the jazz tradition!

100 Years of Jazz: Part 1 – Congo Square

Blog by Louise Balkwill

2017 is a very special year for music – it marks 100 years since the release of the first ever jazz recording, “Livery Stable Blues” by The Original Dixieland Jazz Band! Since then, popular music has foxtrotted, swung, bopped, rocked and rolled its way into the 21st century, but the rich culture of improvised music from New Orleans is still rife today all over the world.


Congo Square, the Birthplace of Jazz

Before we look at the journey that jazz music has taken over the past 100 years, we must ask how it came to be in the first place.

Rewind 100 years further to the year of 1817; 198 years after the first Africans were sold into slavery in America. The mayor of New Orleans city council established “Congo Square” (originally known as Beauregard Square and Congo Plains) as an official site for slave music and dance by restricting any kind of gathering of enslaved Africans anywhere else in the city.

Every Sunday, they would gather in Congo Square and sell goods to raise money to buy their freedom. In the glimpse of free time that this weekly ‘day off’ provided, they would also gather together to sing, dance and create music. Original instruments used included long, narrow African drums that had previously been banned in America, triangles, jawbones and early ancestors of the banjo.

Benjamin Henry Latrobe’s drawing of a bamboula, made at Congo Square on February 16, 1819. (© Maryland Historical Society)

Dances such as “Flat-Footed-Shuffle” and the ”Bamboula” were performed as these rhythms were played. As time went on, the dances and music evolved with new influences and ideas.

Visitors from all over New Orleans began to gather to spectate and dance along to what they then coined “Black music”, and this culture began to spread across America.

African slaves dancing the Bamboula; Illustration by Edward Windsor Kimble at The Historic New Orleans Collection

The square became a mixing pot for a rich diversity of traditional African rhythms passed down through many generations, as well as European music that English-speaking Africans were familiar with.

In 1865, after almost 250 years of slavery in America, the cruel trade was abolished, but the musical traditions that had evolved over the past few decades stuck.


In the next post, we’ll be looking at how African American music evolved into the new hip trend of the late 19th century – Ragtime!

The Becky Dell Music Academy – A London Living Wage Organisation

We are delighted to have been awarded the London Living Wage Employer mark by the Living Wage Foundation, a foundation supporting the fair pay of employees across the country.

Although we have only recently received accreditation, we have always strived to provide fair wages for our admin staff and tutors are paid above the Musicians’ Union recommended rate, which makes for a happy team!

Congratulations also to Mycenae House, our biannual concert venue, for being awarded the same mark.

We thought you’d be happy to know that you are supporting the fair pay of employees by choosing to have music lessons with us – a big thank you from the whole team!

The Becky Dell Music Academy – A London Living Wage Organisation

Love of Life and the Living World

Love of Life and the Living World

By Indigo Star

Many of you will have heard of the incredible singer, songwriter, producer, DJ and actress Bjork. With around 4 Million records sold worldwide as of 2015, is it any wonder she is considered by many to be ” the most important and forward looking musician of her generation” and “one of the greatest women in music”?

Famed for her innovative approach to vocals and composition, her expansive career, which spans 4 decades has taken her audience on an immersive journey through a myriad of influences, genres and styles.

But here is where it gets really interesting.

Not only has her music reached the masses but her forward thinking approach has lead her to pioneer a new technological app along with an unchartered teaching approach that could change the way we engage and create using colour and sound as a combined tool…This app is called Biophilia – but more on that a little later.

Collaborating frequently with multidisciplinary artists and exploring the way music is visually represented Bjork continues to develop an ever-expanding platform for us to broaden our perceptions of music and inspire our imaginations.

 Her collaborations have extended to include scientists, environmentalists, artists, academics and technologists and it was these collaborations that culminated in the release of her extraordinary 2011 album “Biophilia” in which Bjork brings the multi sensory experience and expression of music to a whole new level.

This official video of one of the album tracks is breathtaking in it’s concept and delivery. In it Bjork creates an audiovisual landscape of our living nature…

click here

And with that let me bring you back to the app this wonderful artist has created…
Bjork teamed up with Producer and app designer Scott Snibbe to create and launch the innovative Biophilia App.

In the creators’ own words…

“Björk has collaborated with artists, designers, scientists, instrument makers, writers and software developers to create an extraordinary multimedia exploration of the universe and its physical forces, processes and structures – of which music is a part. Each in-app experience is inspired by and explores the relationships between musical structures and natural phenomena, from the atomic to the cosmic. You can use Biophilia to make and learn about music, to find out about natural phenomena, or to just enjoy Björk’s music.”

Using similar ideas to those explored within the app, the live performances of tracks from her Biophilia album incorporate giant science based installations, bringing science in its magnitude directly into the concert experience.

Check out this performance…
click here

Now, not only did she create the remarkable app but Bjork simultaneously initiated a groundbreaking education project across Iceland. In collaboration with The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture and The Nordic Council of Ministers she set up a collaborative network of experts in music, science, technology and the arts to promote innovation in schools and encourage interesting music and its creation.

Bjork joined forces with the City of Reykjavik and the University of Iceland to launch the Biophilia Education Project which would roll out in selected schools over the course of 3 years.

In layman terms, it’s focus is to draw people away from their desks and invite them to delve into the depths of their imagination. 

With a fundamental ethos of Listen, Learn, Create this exceptional project, by encouraging simultaneous learning between multiple disciplines, encourages diversity and stimulates experimentation and growth in a more tangible way than many traditional teaching methods . They believe that giving students a new model of open-mindedness and uninhibited exploration creates potential for new discoveries that might otherwise have been missed.

What a woman!

Click the link below to see a guided tour of the app by Designer and executive Producer Scott Snibbe as he gives an introduction to utilising this amazing creative resource :
click here

Perhaps you could put this incredible tool to good use and start your own personal journey into sound science and the unlimited creative multimedia universe or perhaps trial this transformative education tool in a project or classroom of your own.

For more information, videos, downloadable teaching PDF’s and more visit the website:


Biophilia Education


Big Ben’s Bells are Taking a Little Break…

This blog is all about Bells. Big beautiful bonging bells! Both the Big Ben bell and the place it was created, the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in East London.

Any keen listener of BBC Radio 4 will probably know of the impending bong deficit. This is because the Clock Tower at Westminster (the home of Big Ben and the other bells) is having a major three year refurbishment plan.

Of course, when you rely on the Bongs of Big Ben to start your live Radio show or TV programme, what do you do instead?

There was the story of the young girl who had very kindly offered to step in and do the bongs, and whilst we wait for the Bells to stop chiming (they are unsure when exactly within the three year restoration programme the bells will stop exactly, but they estimate the bongs will be out of action for a few months), here are some suggestions. This is a three minute audio clip on the subject from BBC Radio 4.

Photo from the BBC Archive.

Here are some facts about Big Ben, taken from www.bigbenfacts.co.uk

Who named Big Ben?

Londoners did. SUPPOSEDLY, the bell was going to be named Victoria after Queen Victoria, but Londoners started calling the bell “Big Ben” and the name stuck. (Giving nicknames is still a London custom – just think about “the Gherkin”!)

Where and when was Big Ben made?

Big Ben was cast at Whitechapel Bell Foundry, in East London, on 10th April 1858. It took him two weeks to cool, and once he was ready, they transported him to Westminster on a horse drawn carriage. Londoners lined the route and cheered as the bell went past.

How much does Big Ben weigh?

He weighs about 13 and a half tons, about the same as a small elephant.

The Whitechapel Bell Foundry is a great company with centuries of tradition, sadly struggling to survive in a modern world.

As a result of this, the company is closing May 2017. The site is being sold for flats (sigh) but they are still hopeful that the business might survive. So if you know anyone that might want a bell making business, tell them to get in touch with the current owners. I’ve been to visit Kathryn and Alan Hughes at the Bell Foundry and they are great people. I hope they find suitable buyers and keep one of the oldest businesses (it’s been going for 446 years) in the UK going…

Pope’s Percussive Preferences…a guide to your first drum kit.

By Harry Pope, BDMA Drum Tutor.

Hello Hello!
I’m Harry and I’m Becky’s resident maker of noise. Or drummer. Take your pick. This short blog post will be about selecting a drum kit, geared mainly towards the beginner side of things.

Okay, so when looking for a beginner kit for a young child (or a big kid like me) there are a few things to look for.

Firstly, size is a big factor. The drum kit is a physical instrument and despite what is marketed as “beginner” kits, there’s no need for a kid under ten to have a big 22″ rock sized bass drum, and in fact one of my other pupils who is seven runs into a fair amount of difficulty because of that exact problem. I have NO idea why schools keep buying these oversized behemoths of drum kits.
So I’d advise either a bass drum between the sizes of 16″ and 20″. I still use an 18″ on some of my gigs, so don’t worry about growing out of it anytime soon. Trust me, if they start a band and you end up ferrying them to gigs like my dad did then you’ll thank me.

THIS is what I had as my intermediate kit. MISTAKE, no matter what the guy in the drum shop tells you!
Also note the 90’s kid hair. Groovy.
So: smaller kit please.
Also, it’ll take up less space, and it’ll be a bit quieter which is always good for the rest of the family!
There are a few things that you would want to check out for a first kit. The “all in one” starter kits I really wouldn’t recommend, because their main selling point is including everything you need in one package, despite the fact that none of them are really any good. They might look alright in the stock photos, but when you get them out of the box they might end up looking like this…

You have been warned.




All the larger brands of drums have low – mid range kits which are much, much better quality. Also, I really would not rule out second hand kits, as a well kept mid-professional level kit would be ten times better than a new kit at the same price.

You can essentially break the kit down into four parts: the shells, the hardware, the cymbals and the heads.

The shells themselves are pretty straightforward: as long as they’re round and are sanded down properly you’ll be fine. Seems simple, but a lot of the beginner kits can end up a weird oval shape, and then you’re in trouble. If you’re worried, then you can take the heads off and rest them on a tabletop. If they wobble then they’re out of round and that’s a no-no. Avoid like the proverbial plague. Or the actual plague. Whichever is worse.

The hardware (cymbal stands, snare stand, screws to keep the heads on etc) is an important one. With a slightly more expensive kit than the Taiwan/Chinese “beginner” kits, chances are all the hardware is made in the same factory, and won’t be too far off the professional level standard kits, and therefore will survive the energetic onslaught of excitable children for years. I still have some of the hardware from my first kit years ago and it still works fine. I really recommend Yamaha hardware, as it’s made in their motorcycle factory, which for obvious reasons has to have amazing quality control. Even their lightweight hardware can withstand a crazy loud rock drummer laying into their kit with all the subtlety of a small bison. But anyway, enough about my teenage years.

The cymbals are probably the trickiest. What I would say is buy some reasonably cheap ones, e.g. The Solar range by Sabian, or the Zbt range from Zildjian. They’re much less likely to break, and will do for a good few years or even longer. The cymbals included in a cheap beginner set are just cheap brass cutouts (yeah, really), and I’ve seen them snap or turn inside out when hit – they sound awful and break pretty soon. The other option is to buy some better level second-hand cymbals, made in Istanbul. They have a lower price tag than the American ones and always just as good, even better. The holy grail of ride cymbals, the 50’s K Zildjian was made in Turkey, and they sound like a good back massage feels. Mmmmm.

The stock heads you get on a lower level kit are never particularly good, generally cheap plastic. A £300 kit with good heads will sound better than my £3k kit with rubbish heads.

ANYWAY. Basically what I’m trying to say, is that if you spend a little more now, and let me give you a hand with it, then it’ll save you money in a year or two if he or she loves it and keeps it up, and it’ll also hold it’s value a lot better if you ever want to resell it.



Cable and Amps and Mics – oh my!

Amplification of your instrument and/or voice (By Ronald)

Some instruments can’t be heard without an amplifier. An electric guitar, an electric bass guitar, a digital piano or a keyboard: you can’t hear them (very well) unless you plug them in. Acoustic instruments can be played without amplification. Of course they can, that’s why they are called acoustic.Sometimes, however, it won’t be loud enough for the occasion…

Luckily they can be amplified in a few different ways. The easiest and best known solution is a microphone, but in case of an acoustic guitar or other string instrument a pickup can be easier/better. If you are interested in how pickups work and which varieties there are, see here. If you have specific questions about how to amplify your instrument with a pick up, ask your (guitar, cello, violin, double bass) tutor or email me.

In this blog I’ll focus on microphones (mics). Mics come in many shapes and sizes and have differences in sound and compatability. One uses different mics for a drum kit than for a flute or a voice. I don’t expect many of you to want to amplify your drum kit yet, so once you’ve booked your first stadium gig, you can ask Harry (or me on same email as above) about what to use.

Like an electrical guitarist owns an amplifier to make him/herself heard, it is sometimes useful to be able to amplify your voice while singing. At home your voice is easily loud enough. At a venue like the Mycenae House your vocal won’t be strong enough to match up with the grand piano (unless you’re a trained opera singer). Those of you who have sung through a mic there may have found out that it sounds quite different and that singing through a mic comes with a certain technique. Therefore it is very useful to be taught how to hold it and use it. It’s not a bad idea to own your own mic to practice and get used to how it sounds. If you ever get a gig other than the BDMA concerts, it might come in handy that you can bring your own gear. The most used vocal mics for live situations are the Shure SM58 and the Sennheiser e835. There are definitely more options, but with one of these you can be sure of a good sound.

A mic is made to pick up sound, but doesn’t make your voice any louder yet. You’ll need a speaker to let the sound come out. Unfortunately you can’t plug your mic straight into the speaker, because the signal is way too weak (in fact it’s even weaker than a guitar signal, that’s why plugging it into a guitar amp can’t make it really loud either). That is where the amplifier comes in. You can find the amp and speaker nicely built into one box, called a “combo”,  “powered speaker” or “active speaker”. What we call a “vocal amp” is in fact such a combo. You can find a suitable solution for any budget between £100 and £1000. Top notch of portable combos is AER. The sound is great, the box is small and light. They cost around a grand, that is. Luckily there is a range of more affordable combos. The SubZero and the Behringer B205D are good and not too expensive options. If you’ve got the time, I advise you to go to a shop like Eric Lindsey in Catford or one of the many shops in Denmark Street. Here you can hear and compare a few different models. Alternatively you can find many good second hand vocal amps on sites like Ebay and Gumtree.

The important thing is that the input is a mic input. XLR inputs are always meant (or at least compatible) for mics. Jack inputs can be compatible for mics, but you need to check that. If it’s not, you’ll still hear something, but the amplification will be limited. Feel free to email me to ask if a certain amp is suitable for you. Once you’ve chosen and purchased a mic and a vocal amp, you’ll need a lead to connect them.  The output of a mic is always XLR (except for mics from before 1960). If the mic input on your amp is XLR too, you’ll need a standard mic lead. If your amp has a jack mic input, you need a XLR to Jack lead.


Simple as that!

Disclaimer: I used links from different music shops. You can find all products on many more websites and you can (probably) buy everything together on each of them. Beware of the complete vocal performance packs though, ’cause sometimes they come with quite a mediocre mic. I don’t intend to direct people to a certain shop, so feel free to have a browse. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to contact me or your tutor.


Glastonbury 2016 Round Up

So I managed to wangle myself a ticket to Glastonbury this year and as ever it didn’t disappoint. As ever we were also three feet under in mud, but hey, it’s Glastonbury, what did we expect…

I saw some great bands, both old and new and wanted to share them with you.


I’m awarding myself a gold star as I stayed in London to vote, not that it did much good, le sigh, let’s not go there… It took 7 hours to get in, so we didn’t arrive till evening, but still, we used the time waiting in the queue to do out hair and make up so at least we looked FABULOUS for an hour at Glastonbury….


Friday started with a heavy heart at the referendum result. I decided there was nothing for it but to cover myself in glitter and go and do Power Ballad Yoga in the Greenpeace Fields. Yes, that’s a thing. It was part comedy, party yoga and very funny. There were maybe 150 people all doing it and feeling the love. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3lI3foiGtU

Next we went and checked out The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians with Damon Albarn on the Pyramid Stage. At that point it felt more important than ever to go and show our support for the refugees and remember we are all connected as human beings and remember that we have more in common than that which divides us. I’m not going to lie, it was a bit emotional.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p03y0j0m/glastonbury-2016-the-orchestra-of-syrian-musicians-with-damon-albarn-guests

Then we drank some cider (standard) and watched Hobo Jones And The Junkyard Dogs who have become a firm festival favourite band over the years. A tongue in cheek skiffle band, these three chaps know how to rock a tent! https://youtu.be/1as_4YGLmlQ?t=1m25s

Next up we saw our friends She Drew The Gun (SDTG) performing in the backstage bar at Theatre & Circus. SDTG won the Glastonbury emerging talent competition and played 5, yes 5 (!) times this festival, finishing off by headlining the John Peel Stage on Sunday morning, which I just missed, (arriving as they finished) because I’d been too busy dancing disco with drag queens in a backstage bar. For real. Anyway, you should definitely check out SDTG, they are destined for big things and Louisa is a top gal with a clear conscience. http://www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk/she-drew-the-gun-win-2016-emerging-talent-competition/

Then I headed off to Bastille with my friend’s kid, Rory. Rory is 12 years old and has been to Glastonbury 10 times already. In theory I was looking after him but the reality is that I think he was looking after me. Top tips like shortcuts and “lift with your heel!” when you get stuck in the Glastonbury mud. Man! It’s so frickin sticky!!!!! Rory persuaded me to go to the front of Bastille and we got right to the front! Big thanks to the lovely Bastille fans who let us go right to the front. You made a 12 year old kid (and a 36 year old adult) very very happy. Bastille were absolutely brilliant live, with the lead singer performing superbly. It was a sunset session, so utterly gorgeous to look at. Check it out here. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p03y0jf0/glastonbury-2016-bastille


After that we made a quick tour to Stormzy and Muse before heading back to sensation Seekers Stage to watch a bit of cabaret. Yes, that was all one day. No wonder I’m still tired! Over the four days I did 100,000 steps, which is equivalent to about 1,000,000 normal steps due to the sticky Glastonbury mud…. We went to the after hours area “SE Corner” which was pretty banging and danced to some breaks and I randomly bumped into a friend. Love it when that happens!

Saturday bought a backstage meeting with the lovely Jess AKA Tourettes Hero, she is a bloody legend and an inspirational and funny person through and through. Also know as ‘Biscuit Lady’, she uses her tourettes to put on a hilarious show.  http://www.touretteshero.com/

Then I swung by West Holts stage, also known as the world music stage. I saw two acts I hadn’t seen before. First up was Mbongwana Star, who are a 7 piece Congalese band, very up tempo and fun. Perfect for a Saturday afternoonhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p03yggrf/glastonbury-2016-mbongwana-star

They were followed by a Japanese performance art group, which are everything you might expect a Japanese performance art group to be. Flipping mental! Didn’t know where to look!! Orchestral musicians, dancers, naked dancers, people doing art. They are called Shibusashirazu Orchestra http://www.bbc.co.uk/events/ewcj5v/acts/ab6p8g#p03yggnv

Saturday evening was always going to be Adele. I was lucky enough to get a last minute ticket to see her at the 02 recently and she was jaw droppingly amazing. The thing that most people don’t realise if they haven’t seen her live is just how funny she is. I love her refreshing honesty and genuine approach to life. As well as being a world class singer she can also tell a cracking joke and you just want to go down the pub with her. If watching Adele on the Pyramid Stage was amazing, spare a thought for our very own trombone tutor Emma Basset who was PLAYING FOR HER! ON THE PYRAMID STAGE! What a star Emma is and we’re very very proud of her. She was playing on Skyfall, see if you can see her here…. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p03ybdky/glastonbury-2016-adele

Just as Adele was finishing we decided to hot foot it to another section of the Festival and popped up to The Park for the David Bowie tribute. It was the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra playing a live orchestral piece by the American composer Philip Glass. His “Heroes Symphony”, written in 1996 in homage to David’s 1977 album Heroes was the first classical headliner to appear at Glastonbury and was accompanied by an outstanding laser show.

We then watched a bit of cabaret, went to Block 9 for a proper Glastonbury rave up, complete with subway crashed into the building (it’s a theatre set, not real but still completely impressive). Then I got distracted by dancing drag queens.


Sunday bought some much needed sleep and a quick gig watching Mahalia, a very talented young lady (possibly only 18 years old?!) from London. Her dad played guitar with her which was so sweet. With her unique look, gorgeous voice and cracking songs, I’m sure this girl is destined for big things.
We decided to skip Coldplay and headed for an early exit and managed to avoid getting stuck in the mud in my low slung car, phew! Despite the mud (oh god the mud) it was probably my best Glastonbury yet. Fab times with fab people and a whole bunch of music and art to check out.  This is how I choose to live my life. Thanks to all the wonderful people that choose the same and make it what it is.







Exam Tips

by Becky

Well, I don’t know about you but I feel I’m full in the flow of exam season at the moment, and with it, comes it’s own unique set of challenges.

Here are my top tips to get through exams!

The Night Before:

Get an early night. Prepare your music and know what you are going to wear the next day. Girls (and boys) with long hair, either tie it back or pin if back off your face. Don’t hide behind your hair!
Wear something smart, that you feel comfortable in. This is a formal occasion and so trainers and jeans are not acceptable. You don’t have to wear your best Cinderella ballgown either. Something in between is fine.

The Morning:

Eat something that will sustain you through the rehearsal and exam time.

Tips for singers: DO NOT eat diary, chocolate, fizzy drinks or orange juice that day. Eat as much as you want afterwards but not 2 – 3 hours before the exam. They will stick to your vocal chords and make you want to clear your throat continuously.


On The Day:

Do a long slow warm up. Play your scales, exercises and pieces. Play them slower and at the correct tempo. Look over your musical knowledge and make sure you know all your keys and key signatures etc.

Remember to take your exam slip with you (sometimes your tutor has this). You will need to hand it to the examiner (with a nice cheery “Hello!”) when you go into the exam.

Remember they are human, just like you! They want to give you the very best mark possible. They are not there to trick you. Relax. Enjoy the experience of showing an appreciative audience how much you have learnt. No one enjoys watching a nervous performer, so take a few breaths to steady yourself, smile and let the music flow.

If you make a mistake – don’t worry and don’t let it put you off the rest of your exam. I guarantee you the mistake you made (that feels like the worst mistake in the world) was MUCH smaller than you felt it was. The trick is to hold your nerve and not let it put you off. You can’t control what has just happened, but you can choose to decide how it affects your future. Don’t let it put you off!

Exam situations can be nervous and we have many of them during our lifetime. The trick is not to let the fear overwhelm you. At the end of the day, they are just exams! Nothing bad is going to happen if it doesn’t go well! So work hard, practice lots and go in to the exam with a smile on your face and enjoy the experience, confident you have done all the preparation you could do.

Songs of Praise – BBC Junior Choir Of The Year

Huge congratulations to Blackheath Prep Choir who made it into the semi-finals of the BBC Choir Of The year 2016.

We have 5 students at the academy who sing in the choir; Amity, Evie, Matthew, Harriet and Amber and you can watch their glorious faces singing here on BBC iPlayer!