The Music Department has a long-held reputation for excellence. We are very proud of the extensive opportunities we can provide for all kinds of music-making. The ability to play a musical instrument or to sing in a choir is such a valuable and rewarding experience for your child, and this booklet is intended to give a brief introduction to the wealth of musical opportunities we provide.
In the classroom, Music is taught as a distinct subject from Transition to Year 8. From Years 3-8, children are taught in half-classes and they participate in practical music-making as frequently as possible. Musical concepts are explored through a wide range of activities including music technology, electronic keyboards, percussion work, performing and all kinds of creative topics. The children also sing a large repertoire of songs, many of which are performed in carol services and in drama productions.
We encourage as many of our instrumentalists as possible to perform in informal Teatime Concerts, which are a perfect way for novice musicians to develop confidence in performing to a small audience of parents and friends. We are proud that many children who gain this valuable experience at an early stage in their music-making, progress to the standard required for success in gaining Music Scholarships to their chosen senior schools.
Musical Ensembles and Choirs
There is a wealth of opportunities for children at Danes Hill to thrive in our extra-curricular musical ensembles and choirs. Currently the Orchestra is of a size and standard to rival those of many senior schools. The Chamber Choir, for our most senior singers, enjoys performing on many occasions in the school year, especially at Christmas and on our annual European tour. One of the highlights of the musical calendar is the Summer Concert, which typically involves over 200 musicians, including choirs, ensembles, soloists, the Orchestra and Jazz Band.
A perfect starting place for our youngest children is the Lower School Choir. This is a non-auditioned choir for enthusiastic singers in Years 2 and 3.
Currently, the following rehearse on a weekly basis:
- Jazz Band
- String Training Orchestra
- Senior String Orchestra
- String Quartet
- Flute Ensemble
- Clarinet & Saxophone Ensemble
- Double Reed Ensemble
- Guitar Ensemble
- Brass Ensemble
- Chamber Choir
- Lower School Choir
- Middle School Choir
In addition there is also a Rock School course ‘Let There Be Rock’ which meets as a holiday activity.
Individual Instrumental Lessons
Many children are inspired to devote more time to music-making than the curriculum allows, and we are delighted that over 340 children learn a musical instrument with our team of 13 peripatetic instrumental teachers.
There is much evidence to suggest that children who learn an instrument experience many benefits in other areas of their lives. Learning an instrument takes time and effort, which teaches children patience and perseverance. Several studies show that musical practice increases memory and language skills. There is even evidence to suggest that the parts of the brain that control motor skills, hearing, storing audio information and memory become larger and more active when a person learns to play an instrument, improving day-to-day actions such as alertness, planning and emotional perception. Whatever the benefits, it is clear that children learning an instrument not only acquire skills and a love of music-making for life, they also benefit greatly from the expertise, care and guidance from our exceptional team of instrumental teachers, whether in their individual lessons or in many of the popular ensembles offered at Danes Hill.
However, it should be remembered that learning an instrument is a skill that will take many years to master. The path to success is not always smooth and a good degree of commitment and determination is necessary. Establishing a pattern for daily practice from the outset is the best recipe for success. Children who receive encouragement and regular support from home, regardless of the musical abilities and experiences of their parents, are more likely to retain enthusiasm and achieve success.
At the Main School, tuition is available on the following instruments:
- Double Bass
- Drums/Orchestral Percussion
- Electric/Bass Guitar
- Classical Guitar
- Singing (Years 6- 8)