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Creating a passion for music among pupils.

A group of musical marvels from St Christopher's School have come out tops in their exams, holding the highest number of 'distinction' grades the school has received in five years.

The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) exams provides a structured framework for progression from beginner to advanced level.

The ABRSM is accredited from Grade 1 to 8 with three standards of pass; a standard pass (100/150), a pass with merit (120/150) and a pass with distinction (130/150).

St Christopher's School saw 18 distinctions, the most it has ever received, with 37 merits and 72 passes. Year 7 pupil Rex Tinsley was one of the stand-outs receiving 145/150 in his Grade 1 trumpet exam.

The 12-year-old found inspiration to play the trumpet after he decided to pick an instrument he described as 'different'. He followed in the footsteps of his sisters, Morge, 13, who plays the flute, Florence, 11, who plays the guitar and Beatrice, nine, who plays the piano.

Rex, who lives in Segaya, said: "All my sisters played an instrument before me so I just decided to play one as well. I chose brass because it was different.

"I love playing the trumpet. It's unique and has a unique sound than the other instruments in the family.

"I started learning how to play the trumpet last year and I had been practicing a lot so I was expecting a good mark, but I didn't think it would be a distinction. I was really happy about that. "I practice for around 15 to 20 minutes every day and although I was extremely nervous going into the exam as I started to play I grew in confidence."

Building manager dad Nick isn't very musical but mum Anne, a teacher and author, has been playing the piano for years. Rex hopes one day to play the piano just like her, however that's just his back-up plan as he dreams of becoming a professional rugby player first!

Hannah Nasif also plays the trumpet and has just completed her Grade 6 exam, receiving one of the highest grades of 147/150. She started playing the instrument when she was just 10 after her trumpet teacher came into her music class in Year 5 and played the Pink Panther.

Hannah, 16, from Sr, said: "When my teacher played the song I remember thinking it was amazing. I wanted to be able to do that. And I just started trumpet lessons and have been playing ever since. Funnily enough, I did end up playing the Pink Panther as well. It took me about two years to be able to master it though.

"My dad, Henry, doodles on the saxophone. He loves jazz. I guess I've taken after him.

"I got a distinction in every exam I've taken, so I was expecting it this time. I was really happy.

"Playing an instrument has definitely shaped me as a person. I'm quite a confident character and I think it may have come from my music and performing."

Hannah is part of many of the school bands such as The Big Band and the Brass Band but she hopes to one day form her own with a collection of different instruments. Music is currently just a hobby for Hannah and she hopes to become a lawyer when she's older.

Elizabeth Caley took two examinations receiving a distinction for both the oboe and the guitar. As one of the more unusual instruments, Elizabeth believes the oboe was difficult to master, but after practice she scored 136/150 on her Grade 3, two marks higher than her Grade 5 guitar examination.

Inspired to play by older sister Shelly, 27, who used to play the oboe, Elizabeth is glad she now plays two instruments she is proud of.

Elizabeth, 12, from Sr, said: "I decided to start playing the oboe because it's quite a cool instrument. I play the guitar but wanted something new and different and I thought it would be a fun instrument to play. I have my sister to thank for that.

"I only started playing the oboe when I was 11 and the guitar when I was eight. I practice each instrument separately, 20 minutes each, every day.

"I play my instruments for fun because I really enjoy it. But I decided to get examined to see what level I was at. I just wanted something to work towards.

"I was extremely happy with both my distinction grades. I wasn't expecting it at all. I was confident during the exams because I do practice every day but that doesn't stop your nerves.

"The guitar comes naturally to me and I love it so much. I love the oboe too, but it's extremely hard to play. Music has helped me a lot. When I'm stressed I just strum on the guitar. It's my comfort."

Neither of her parents, Elaine and Ross, play musical instruments but her two brothers, Sam, 10, plays the saxophone, piano and violin and William, 14, plays the piano and sax. Elizabeth hopes to one day become a journalist but explained how her dream would be to top the music charts worldwide too.

Head of music Ken Haggerty said: "The results speak for themselves. It comes down to dedicated children who have practiced very hard and are outstanding at what they do. They also have supportive parents and excellent teaching.

"It is not necessary for these students to take the exam but it is a useful life skill and it teaches them discipline and prepares them for bigger challenges. It makes them resilient and when they succeed, it makes them more confident."

More than 650,000 candidates take the ABRSM examinations each year in over 93 countries. The board also provides a publishing house for music which produces syllabuses, sheet music and exam papers and runs professional development courses and seminars for teachers.

A trained examiner comes to Bahrain for two weeks and is timetabled to examine each student aged between six and 18. The student receives a sheet with comments and detailed feedback at the end.

The new set of ABRSM exams are due to be taken by the students in the next few weeks.

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Publication:Gulf Weekly
Date:Jun 12, 2013
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