Specialist music school
Read about how a specialist school has developed opportunities for gifted and talented learners in music.
This success story describes a specialist music course at a DCSF-assisted specialist music school. Our school is co-educational for pupils aged 3 to 18. It is an academic institution with high expectations of its pupils and is one of the schools funded through the Government's Music and Dance Scheme (MDS). It has a specialist music faculty, which also includes a cathedral choir school. Although there are only 700 pupils in the whole school, over 200 young musicians follow the specialist programme and almost half the school receive music lessons. For those on the specialist course, timetables are tailored to combine practice time with academic work, and are enriched with concerts and masterclasses covering the whole range of musical experiences. Entry is by a series of auditions.
Although the school has been in existence for over a thousand years, with the choir school also in situ for nine hundred years, the specialist music school grew out of this tradition during the last century. In recent years, the music school has further developed from its western classical traditions and has sought to expand the musical opportunities for young people.
The music faculty provides individual programmes for those on the specialist courses and these ensure that every timetable allows for lessons and practice, for ensembles and for performances, as well as allowing them to follow normal academic courses. Aural and theory skills are also developed through class lessons as well as all aspects of day-to-day music making. Performance classes are held weekly for one hour throughout the year; over 150 concerts will be held during the course of the school year.
Although this is a very intensive specialist programme, it is fully supported by the broad academic education opportunities offered through the main school. In addition, the pastoral care programme and the music staff make sure that pupils keep a balanced approach to their musical studies. The DCSF ensures that pupils who are particularly talented in music are financially supported through the remission of fees as part of the MDS.
This is effective in attracting students from families who may experience difficulties in meeting tuition fees. The head of the music faculty is aware of those who may not have benefited from high quality specialist instrumental tuition prior to audition through her background in having worked in maintained state schools in inner-city Bristol. She is therefore keen to consider a student's potential for improvement.