By Maria LeGuen, MYP Coordinator & Music Teacher

For several years ISZL has enjoyed a liaison with the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra. Our students have the opportunity to attend concerts and listen to internationally renowned musicians as well as a world-class orchestra. As part of this liaison, we invite musicians from the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra to visit our school to perform in concerts and work with our IB Diploma music students.

Last month Jonas Erni (violin), Alexander Besa (viola) and David Desimpelaere (double bass) visited ISZL and presented a concert featuring works by J.S. Bach, W.A. Mozart, N. Paganini and Erroll Garner to students from Grade 8 up to Grade 12. The concert ended with a brief question and answer session so that students and teachers could connect with the musicians, ask questions about the music they had heard including what it is like to work as a professional musician.

After the concert the musicians from the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra worked with our 11th Grade music students. For IB Diploma (higher level) music, students are required to compose their own music. Although all the students play instruments or sing, they can find themselves composing for instruments that they are not familiar with. The software programmes we use such as Sibelius or GarageBand allow students to hear all the instrumental parts together when they experiment with musical ideas, but the software cannot totally replicate how the piece will sound in real life. In addition, computer software can play anything, whereas in real life certain combinations of notes may be extremely difficult (if not impossible) on a specific instrument.

In preparation for the visit, all the students had composed a string trio for violin, viola and double bass. The professional musicians performed each piece of music, discussing specific aspects of the composition with the composer to find out what the student had intended. The pieces were recorded using the equipment in the media production studio.

Mikayla wrote a piece entitled “Seasons”. She was inspired by Bach’s Cello Suite no. 1 and some of the music she had studied in class. Mikayla had used the music software to record her piece, but when played live with the visiting musicians the music sounded very different and Mikayla was able to see how well her ideas worked when using real instruments. "It was really interesting to work with the musicians and find out how to use performance directions to give the music a different feel."

Mikayla' composition

Simon wanted to explore rhythmic patterns in his composition entitled “Apologies” and used a structure with recurring themes to give the music coherence. This extract shows some of the ideas that he explored:

Simon's composition

Again, the impact of the different rhythms sounds quite different on real instruments compared to the computer-generated soundtrack. In addition to discussing his ideas with the musician, Simon received valuable feedback on the instructions he had notated in his score.

"It was really helpful to hear feedback from professional musicians on how to write for their instruments."

The music students found the experience of working with the professional musicians to be extremely valuable and inspirational, and to end this article, here is another quote from one of the students. 

"Hearing my piece played live gave me new ideas and a new vision for how to develop and finish my composition."



  • Arts
  • High School
  • Music
  • Newsletter
  • Visiting Artist