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How to become an All-Steinway school

Caroline Daniel, Director of Music at Bromley High School, explains how the school achieved Steinway status

Posted by Julian Owen | December 31, 2017 | Teaching

On 25 September 2017 Bromley proudly became an All-Steinway school, making us the first all girls’ school in the world to gain this status. This now puts us at the very forefront of girls’ musical education with facilities that rival such stratospheric enclaves such as the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal College of Music and concert venues such as the Wigmore Hall and the Royal Festival Hall. 

Our journey began 12 months ago with a meeting in one of our classrooms to discuss the quality of piano provision in the department and how we might improve it. This first step had been taken off the back of a conversation I had with our now retired Deputy Head of the Junior School, Lesley Clare, who mentioned that we still had one of the pianos she had learnt to play on when she had studied at the school. I invited Steinway to come and assess our stock of pianos and to outline how we might be able to gain membership of the Steinway School’s programme. Our audit highlighted that the average age of our pianos was 49 years, and although well looked after, they had been very well used and it was time to act!

At this point several proposals were collated and I was most excited to hear feedback from other heads of music who expressed the huge impact the Steinways had not only on their pianists, but on the quality of musical teaching and learning across the board. The progress, enrichment opportunities and musical ambition of the Steinway pupils had gone through the roof. Angela Drew, our Headmistress, shared this vision and paved the way with the Girls Day School Trust for it to become possible in our school. Then followed a very exciting visit to Steinway Halls in London with a selection of our music scholars to choose our pianos. We had the assistance of Joanna MacGregor, world famous pianist, Steinway artist and the Head of Piano at the Royal Academy of Music. By the end of the day we had chosen our Model D, our Model B and a selection of uprights. Once back at school, all we had to do was wait!

We took delivery of the pianos in late September and hosted our first Steinway Concert on the same day, involving junior and senior girls playing both solos and large ensemble pieces. We took this opportunity to be able to reach out to the community and donate our old pianos to a local school who took delivery with great excitement. It was lovely to know that our pianos had gone to a good home.

We then hosted our inaugural recital which welcomed Joanna MacGregor to our school to present a masterclass and concert. This was a truly inspirational moment which we were proud to share with many local primary and secondary schools. It is incredibly important to us that our world-class facilities are not just experienced by Bromley High girls and have set about preparing a programme of events and opportunities for young pianists in the borough. This began with the Bromley Youth Music Trust’s Piano Maestro’s event in December. 

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