It was a long-held ambition of Roberto Iannandrea, Head of Music at The British School in the Netherlands (BSN), to combine his passions—music and teaching—by setting up a record label entirely run by students. With the support and encouragement he received at BSN, he was able to achieve this ambition and has created something truly unique.
Written by Roberto Iannandrea
Is it possible to set up a school Record Label?
When I was ‘young-er’ I was a session musician based in London, UK. I toured the world with several high profile bands.
Then I became a teacher.
Ever since my first day in the profession, I always asked myself ‘Could I ever set up a record label and publish music produced, arranged and performed by my students?’
The answer is: Yes!
After having worked and lived in the UK, Malawi, Gabon, and Nepal, I landed in The Netherlands. Here at the British School in The Netherlands, at Senior School Voorschoten (SSV) is where the answer to my dream came true!
Launching the Label
The record label is run by students who record and produce the talented musicians of the BSN family. The record label provides the perfect environment where students from all different expertise can collaborate, communicate, learn from one another and test their leadership skills.
In January 2018 I launched the official record label of the school BSN Sessions. To date, we have produced and released 3 singles, 3 EPs and 2 Albums with a total of 36 songs!
We have an excellent (student!) Project Manager who meets weekly with the other thirteen members and disseminates information and takes decisions about future plans. It is a lot of work. To divide the responsibility the team is structured into the following sub-teams: Marketing, Production, Creative, and Logistics.
As a music teacher, my pedagogy is based on inspiring students, providing them with challenging but rewarding scenarios. Most importantly, I want to break down the teacher/student barrier and let them understand that music-making activities go beyond the school settings.
Music is an important part of our lives, and we teachers, are here to support all our students with their growth and their aspirations.
The record label’s vision is to establish a platform where students can enjoy music and aspire to improve on their musical skills by providing them with real-life opportunities.
Real-life safe learning
What I like about this project is that students have an outlet where they can exchange ideas, work creatively and understand the pressure and the demands of a real-life environment.
Deadlines must be met if music has to be released on digital streaming platforms. Students also learn how to communicate professionally with Dutch businesses (for example when producing vinyl records).
It is a personal ambition to utilise my professional experience in the music industry for good use in the education sector. The positive and supportive environment at The British School in the Netherlands has enabled me to fulfil this ambition.
A supportive environment
I met with SSV’s Headteacher, Paul Topping, and had several discussions about launching a record label. I always received full support and sometimes Paul would even help me speed up the bureaucratic process by handling several matters himself.
BSN Sessions has grown from strength to strength since its first appearance. It all started with a single track released on Spotify; now BSN Sessions has produced full albums showcasing the school musicals and all the amazing student ensembles. BSN Sessions is available on all major digital streaming platforms as well as on CDs and vinyl records.
That’s right… Selling is a big part of the project as the money generated by sales is utilised to fund the next project. So, please support this creative student-led project and order a vinyl, you will be impressed with the quality. And of course, being an international school, BSN Sessions ships worldwide!
BSN Sessions in Numbers*
- BSNSessions has been streamed over 207.500 times across over 40 countries
- USA is the country with most streams (we are very popular there!)
- ‘To Build a Home’ (Roots) recorded by Ella Hart (Y11 – SSV) has been streamed 1206 times on Spotify.
- Mushnik & Son (Little Shop of Horrors) recorded by Thomas Weinberg (Y13 – SSV) and Alexandre Langlois (Y13 – SSV) has been included in several Official Little Shop of Horrors Spotify playlists, featuring alongside professional recording artists.
* on 16 December 2019
Working for the British School?
Looking to make your dreams reality? Find out about our vacancies by signing up to our weekly newsletter.