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News > School News > School Meeting: Head Girl - Riana Bahl

School Meeting: Head Girl - Riana Bahl

Riana reflects on her thirteen years at Badminton and the importance music has played in her journey through the School and in this period of remote learning.
24 Jun 2020
School News
Nearly 11 years ago, in my very first cello lesson in the Year 2 at Badminton I was taught that music is about connection, and it has remained at the forefront of my playing ever since. When I began, I thought about the connection of the bow gliding across the string of the cello, but with enough pressure to produce a depth of sound and clear tone. It is safe to say that it has taken me many years to find the balance of pressure and ease and I still haven’t perfected it! I used to believe that the connection was purely physical, but I have grown to realise that the true connection of music is much deeper and comes from emotions flowing between and within us. I have often found that music can make me feel connected at times when I feel alienated from the world around me. I am certainly not the best musician, however, my passion for music has always been noticed and nurtured by the school for which I am grateful.

This encouragement helped me decide to take Music A level along with my Science and Maths A levels which I will need to hopefully study medicine at university. I’ve learnt that a musical education can provide us with the knowledge and skills to express ourselves and connect with others. I have found that the best way I can do this is through composition, I often spend free lunchtimes and tea breaks in the music technology room allowing my emotions to show through notes on a score.  That room has been a sanctuary in the most hectic of times and thanks to the ever-patient Mr Dowd, I have (slowly) learnt to express myself within the boundaries of the mark scheme. I have found that connection can be so much more than physical or even verbal and when all of these come together something near magical happens. I was lucky enough to experience this in February of year 9.

At St. George’s Brandon Hill in 2017, after a full day of rehearsals the symphony orchestra took their places on the stage to begin the concert. I could feel the energy and excitement bursting out of the orchestra as we became one, waiting to bring this piece of music to life. Coming to the climax of Fingal’s Cave by Mendelssohn, my excitement bubbled over and I had a sudden realisation that I wanted to pursue music further. I will never forget that moment, a second of clarity at such an intense time, once again, connection brought to me in the form of music. That piece of music, along with the Elgar Cello Concerto also performed that year, remain my two favourite pieces.  That connection between us all, musicians and spectators on that evening, was an experience I will never forget.  Since then, I have striven to unite my music with both the audience and my true emotions whenever I perform, and I try to bring this sense of unity into all aspects of my life.

This has proven useful, especially in these uncertain times where physical connections are not possible and even with our community spread across the globe, the strength of our connections allows us to continue to flourish. I have come to value our communication so much more as virtual meetings allow us to understand each other on a deeper level, despite the limited contact time. In a time like this we must turn to the community we have built for support. This comes in all forms from a thumbs up in the meeting chat giving little bursts of encouragement, to weekly one to one catch ups with tutors, to competitive and surprisingly difficult form group quizzes! We have even been able to continue clubs and events such as virtual informal concerts, once again bringing our community together through our shared interests. As I listen to the sounds of the virtual orchestra, I once again envision that moment in St. George’s hall and feel connected with the whole community despite being apart. Almost 13 years on from my first day at Badminton, I have made so many connections, which I am reminded of every time I see my friends, login to Microsoft Teams or connect my bow to the cello string.

Riana Bahl  Head Girl 2020-2021

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