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Video: One of England’s premier music schools does the Harlem Shake

The Purcell School, a centre for excellence, posted this on its official Youtube channel last night:

purcell school

Previously on the same channel:

Some parents who have contacted us are less than pleased at the skill sets displayed and the use of school resources.

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  1. mark winn says:

    ….perhaps they should get à life….

  2. Purcell Parent says:

    My heart sinks. There is SO much that needs to be sorted out at this school, but perhaps it’s easier to post this sort of thing rather than make some much needed changes.

  3. Graf Nugent says:

    It’s always embarassing when classical music tries to be hip.

    • Maybe classical music SHOULD be trying to be ‘hip’ (by the way, using the word ‘hip’ really shows how un-hip you are). We should be trying to reach out to a new, younger demographic, because unfortunately, the reality is most audience members who attend classical concerts are still in the 50+ years old category.

      • Graf Nugent says:

        I’m not ‘hip’ and I don’t try to be, that’s the whole point. And yes, classical music is appreciated most by the over-50′s. It’s been that way for ages and there’s nothing wrong in it. In fact, it’s rather nice there’s something for that demographic all-too-often vilified as health service parasites. Those are the people who like it most. Classical music is a high-grade product which should be enjoyed on its own terms without continually indulging in infantile schemes to sell it as something it manifestly is not. If young people are interested, they’ll come. After all, with all these outreach projects in place it’s not for want of trying…

        • “Classical music is a high-grade product…”- I agree with this, I do, but on the other hand, it is because of these opinions that we all manifest some illusion that classical music is a snobby genre, too highbrow and very unaccessible. There’s a reason why the ENO announced the whole “wear jeans and trainers” scheme aimed directly at 20-somethings. You, and others who prefer classical music being more elite may find that vulgar, but there is a reason why the ENO and other concert halls/opera companies feel the need to widen their demographic…

          • Graf Nugent says:

            ENO’s scheme was embarassingly out-of-touch, as if twenty-somethings would now get interested in the Marriage of Figaro just because they don’t have to get dressed up. I have, in common with many, many others both in Britain and abroad, been going to concerts and the opera in casual clothes for decades and certainly didn’t need a Britpop ex-frontman to inform me how I may now dress if sniffing about Tosca for the first time. It has nothing to do with clothes, it has nothing to do with packaging but has everything to do with recognising the value of the content. Until people start selling the virtues of the music and spectacle and stop pandering to people’s sartorial or social deficiencies we risk having the same exchange ad nauseam.

          • Graf Nugent says:

            By the way, it’s misguided to say I prefer an ‘elitist’ approach to classical music, unless by that you mean that I’m in favour of people paying attention to and concentrating on what’s being presented to them and not checking their mobile phones after three minutes. In terms of prices, you’ll find pop concerts et al a lot more ‘elitist’ than your average opera house, too, so let’s stop using that now meaningless little word in the context of discussions about classical music.

  4. North six says:

    Students at Purcell work incredibly hard and if this is how they wish to unwind then good for them. Perhaps you should focus on the good work they do rather than pointing snootily at a generation you can’t identify with?

  5. Rosalind says:

    No problems with students unwinding any way (legally) they want, but do the results have to be put up on a very public website like Youtube? If I was a parent, I’d probably not be terribly impressed…

    • Imagine if they’d done a real “Harlem Shake”, which usually involves nudity.. or a really real Harlem-shake, which is actually a groovy dance connected to some great music.

      How is this un-impressive to you? It’s fun. You should give fun a shot. Have a drink, meet a stranger, listen to some 60s Rhythm & Blues. Life isn’t just tea and biscuits and hideous poodles.

  6. Purcell Parent says:

    How on earth do you know that Graf Nugent can’t identify with the current generation of Purcell students? He merely expressed an opinion. As for producing ‘good work’ and working ‘incredibly hard’ – I should jolly well hope so, given the vast amount of money which is poured into this school by parents and the government. Given the priveliged position occupied by our children and the staff of Purcell, musical and academic excellence should be a given.

    • North six says:

      Any sneering and derision at this video suggests that the author can’t identify with this generation! I happen to be in the privileged position of working with them and witness their talent and commitment on a daily basis.
      It’s a shame that the lunchtime and evening concerts aren’t publicly shared to give some balance to their nod to popular culture.
      The school may be going through some difficult times but it’s worth remembering that the kids are the reason we are all there in the first place!

    • Graf Nugent says:

      Thank you, Purcell Parent. I find this diktat that we must automatically find every bit of youth dross exceptional a bit tiring. Purcell students, like anyone else, for that matter, are free to spend their free time doing whatever they want, but spare us the YouTube videos and posturing.

      • North six says:

        The wonderful thing about YouTube is that you don’t have to watch it! Why not go along to school and watch a live concert instead?

        • Graf Nugent says:

          You said yourself they’re closed to the public. Otherwise I would.

          • North six says:

            I said it’s a shame the concerts aren’t publicly shared which in the context of this discussion referred to YouTube, apologies if I wasn’t clear. The school puts on numerous concerts that are open to the public, I look forward to being in your company sometime..

  7. Oh please, do none of you have any sense of humour? Stop being a buzz kill. Sure, there are many things this school needs to sort out, but isn’t it nice to see the kids having some fun and joining in with another viral phenomenon?

  8. Music Student says:

    … And the music-school-bashing continues. Why on earth shouldn’t Purcell students post videos of dances they did during their breaks and non-working hours?? Their Gangnam style is widely recognised to be one of the best school efforts of the country, and their Harlem Shake continues to show their enterprising spirit in catching onto the latest viral videos.

  9. annoyed mother says:

    This is OUTRAGEOUS!

    Considering the recent investigations about the dismissed [redacted] headmaster Mr Crook at this school last year, and all the allegations and cover up surrounding it, don’t the governors think it is rather crass and insensitive for the current headmaster to be seen allowing a teenage boy to rest his head on his whether in jest or not??

    What sort of message does the damaged Purcell School give to prospective parents and pupils and the world at large, when one sees this sort of behaviour during the current scandal surrounding sexual abuse in music schools?

    Shame on you Mr Thomas for allowing this stupidity to be witnessed at this very sensitive time.

  10. Humor is a defense, one that ultimately can foster healing. Those who deride it or call it outrageous are misunderstanding its deadly serious function. It’s a coping mechanism in the darkest hours. Shame on those who condemn or attack it.

    • annoyed mother says:

      So Mr Jordan, it’s humourous to have paedophiles preying on young musicians is it??
      You have completely missed the point of my outrage, and clearly out of touch with the horrific sexual abuse that is pervading our music schools.
      Did the poor former Chets women who was raped by the then director of music mr Brewer find it amusing to tell her sorry tale to the courts recently before she committed suicide?? I think not.

      • North six says:

        I would like to reassure ‘annoyed mother’ that there is no ‘horrific sexual abuse that is pervading our music schools’. The recent tragic case was historical and has thankfully exposed other historical cases.

        Also, can I ask, how is the Purcell School damaged?

        • annoyed mother says:

          North six – haven’t you read anything on this site and the national news of late, to know there is a long overdue purge on horrific sexual abuse in music schools as a result of the Chets scandal?- and rightly so.
          May I suggest you get up to speed and do your homework via this useful site or the web , to draw your own conclusion as to how the Purcell school is part of the expose, and damaged.
          Historical case or not- the Chets scandal has exposed unacceptable behaviour by teachers towards music students and needs thorough investigation to ensure nothing like this ever happens again to our vunerable children.

          • North six says:

            As I work there I think I might be best placed but please feel free to carry on with your ill-informed conjecture.

          • laughing kid says:

            annoyed mother, maybe you should stop reading the news, and go see the place for yourself, chets is a fantastic place, it seems like you follow the media which is trying to make you believe that teachers are unacceptable, nonsense. open your eyes and go there to see for yourself before using large words and making desicions for others.

    • Purcell Parent says:

      Of course, humour is nearly always welcome in any discussion, but I’m not sure what the ‘darkest hours’ referred to by MSJ refer to. The Purcell School has moved on a bit since last year when that comment might have applied. However, it might be amusing to post an official school YouTube video along the following lines:
      enter the governors, en masse, dressed in hair shirts and dancing to the tune of, I’m Sorry by Brenda Lee. They then explain (as a rap), the precise details of the Peter Crook saga. This is then followed by the Headmaster dancing to a medley of We Can Be Better by Shawn Desman and I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor.
      That really might just become a viral phenomenon.

  11. Yet another slanging match across the generation gap.
    If Purcell School students want to post these videos, then I say they are absolutely welcome to do so.
    Harmless fun. There are far worse ways for teenagers to let off steam.
    For the Harlem Shake, I’d give 5 out of 10 for effort, but 2 out of 10 for achievement. The problem with being late in a viral trend is that the lack of any new ideas is rather obvious.
    For the Purcell Style, I’d give 7 out of 10 for effort, and 6 out of 10 for achievement. Sadly, outclassed by the much cleverer Eton Style parody. Smug they may be at Eton, but the self mockery was done with a touch of brilliance.
    But I’d put Purcell well ahead of much of the real dross Gangnam styles out there on YouTube.

  12. Graf Nugent says:

    In reply to N6, above: Then why doesn’t the school put those events on YouTube and not this rubbish?

    • North six says:

      The youtube channel seems to have started late last year so maybe it’s a new venture? I can’t give you a concrete answer but will gladly link to a performance of a fanfare written by a school pupil performed by the school orchestra at the RFH recently.

  13. This comment thread is full of horrible posturing and embarrassing one-upmanship from grownups who should know better. Thank goodness the creative kids that made this parody couldn’t care less what you think of it. They did it because it was fun, and they did a great job of it.

  14. Personally as an ex-pupil, I am really happy to see videos such as this and the Purcell Style (Gangnam Style parody) video; other ex-students have also expressed pride and also regret at how we missed the chance to participate. Students can sometimes feel isolated from “everyday life” as most are boarders, and with most of them teenagers as well, I’d rather see them engaging in activities such as developing, organising, recording and sharing with their world their creative processes, than engaging in smoking/drinking/drug-taking and dealing/shoplifting/other illegal escapades which are easily within reach. If these have been initiated by the students, and are obviously not a part of the curriculum, then I fail to see how this video demonstrates a waste of resources. I’m also quite certain that students are not in any way making subliminal statements; youths will always be intertwined with pop culture, so…let kids be kids. I do agree, however, that it would be great if there were more classical performances on the channel.

  15. Jordan Bateman says:

    Haha this is brilliant! Awesome work guys. :]

  16. I’m glad Mr. Lebrecht’s blog, prompted them to upload some serious music clips as well. But seriously, is that all a music has to share in public?

    Student’s can have fun in what ever method they like, but personally, I cannot agree publishing the fun part ALONE in youtube. That too in their official youtube channel.

    In my honest opinion, no serious music student will throw water bottle to any music instruments! In that video timestamped 00:26, someone is throwing a bottle of milk!!

    • Simon,

      Apparently that was a mistake?

      Quoted from a comment by Purcell’s youtube channel under the Harlem Shake vid:
      “ThePurcellSchool 1 day ago

      After a thorough internal enquiry it was established that the jug of milk came into accidental contact with the blanket and that the subsequent anointing of the bass drum was therefore unintentional. No bass drums were harmed in the making of this video.”

      Also, at least we can see a clip from the concert at RFH last year, which is out on DVD…hope there’s more to come!

  17. J,

    Now that’s more funny! School did an internal enquiry from where that milk came from!! What a waste of time

    Yes, as you said at least we hope to see more serious videos! Thanks to Mr. Lebrecht!!

  18. Just wanted to take issue with North six saying that “there is no ‘horrific sexual abuse that is pervading our music schools’ and “As I work there I think I might be best placed but please feel free to carry on with your ill-informed conjecture”. How does he/she know really? I was a pupil at Chet’s when Michael Brewer was there. I had no idea. I’m sure a lot of other pupils and members of staff had no idea either. Abuse happens in secret.

    • North six says:

      Abuse does happen in secret but the culture and more importantly training currently is geared toward safeguarding children. Of course, there is a chance of it happening. We are trained to be vigilant and I hope that helps.
      Just because Purcell is a specialist music school does not mean that it is damaged by the historical cases at Chets but annoyed mother would have you believe that every music teacher is an abuser and that both saddens me and makes my job as a committed teacher very difficult indeed.

    • It’s true that horror stories and scandals, be it rumoured or real, tend to spread like wildfire amongst those in the know, yet when in danger of being made public people tend to hush it up, skirt around the (understandably uncomfortable) subject, or act indifferent, saying things like “Ah well, it’s a small world/things happen” etc. It’s also true that to represent all teachers as evil child abusers is very wrong, but there will always be some bad eggs in every walk of life and it’s THOSE that we have to look out for. As the saying goes prevention is better than cure; I think what’s needed is perhaps greater transparency at all levels of the system – if you have nothing to fear, why hide?

  19. Fantastic videos. Harmless student-driven fun

  20. Chets ex student says:

    Great to see hard working kids having a good time. Just doing what many schools are doing at the mo. why read so much into it.nHave a sense of humour, so much heavy stuff going on at the moment.

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