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Music in the Mountains
By Kate Olsson, Woodwind Teacher & Instrumental Music Team Leader

Directly after the October holiday, 40 wind and brass players headed to Chalet Bergheim for their annual Wengen Wind & Brass Weekend, and what a weekend it was! As is the case for all of the instrumental music weekends away, the students had never played or performed in that formation of musicians before. They received their sheet music on the day they arrived and spent two and a half days rehearsing, whilst enjoying a panoramic vista of the Jungfrau, Eiger and Mönch. Following on from the Wind & Brass Weekend, the Guitarists enjoyed some lovely autumnal weather at the chalet in November, followed by the Strings Retreat the next weekend. All of the trips were operating at full capacity which shows just how popular the weekends are! Each of the bands and orchestras was invited to play at the High School Arts Week, showing their learning and experience of the weekends, whilst being inspired by the High School music and drama performances on the two evenings.

Rehearsing in the chalet during the Wind & Brass Retreat

Students on the Strings Retreat pose in the sunshine outside ISZL's Chalet Bergheim in Wengen

The Wengen Wind & Brass Ensemble performing at the High School during Arts Week

It is always amazing to see just how much the students gain from the Wengen instrumental weekends. They come back to school with new inspiration, renewed motivation, and the feeling of great success, not to mention the new skills they gain and friendships they acquire! The connections students make between what they read in musical notation, a highly evolved coding system, and their instruments is truly magnificent. Research suggests that reading notation is a complete whole brain activity - intense rehearsals over the three days mean that the neural networks in the students’ brain go from strength to strength!

Musicians take a break in rehearsals during the Guitar Retreat

As well as rehearsals over the three weekends (wind and brass, guitar and strings) the students got to enjoy the outdoors with hikes, picnics, building fires then toasting marshmallows and making hot chocolate, and free time to socialise with their peers. We were lucky to have the tremendous social and educational support of High School students on each of the weekends. They took on their mentor roles with great enthusiasm, and we can only thank them for their leading of sectional rehearsals, integrating with the younger students, and their great spirit! Staff and students alike are all already looking forward to the weekends away next year!


Upcoming music events include:

  • Middle School clarinettists performing alongside Zug Voices at the Altersheim in Baar (Friday 7 December)
  • Zug Voices at the famous Singing Christmas Tree in Zurich (Monday 10 December)
  • The Seasonal Evening on Zug Campus (Tuesday 11 December).

We look forward to welcoming you!

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