Dragons Today - Spring 2015 - page 4-5

D R A G O N S T O DAY S P R I N G 2 0 1 5
D R A G O N S T O DAY S P R I N G 2 0 1 5
1 | When do children start learning
Classroom music lessons begin in Reception
at Lynams and continue all the way through
to A Block at the Dragon. The aim of Music
teaching at the School is to offer each
child a wide practical experience of music,
including performance, composition, theory
and listening. The approach is a holistic
one in which skills learnt in one area can
be transferred to other aspects of music-
making, ensuring relevance and continuity
in each child’s development. From Reception
to D Block, each year group also receives a
weekly group singing lesson which unifies
and expands their ability to read music
and perform as a group with their peers.
The curriculum music lessons dovetail
with individual music lessons, ensembles
and concerts and the fact that rehearsals
for ensembles are organised as part of the
School’s Activities programme, ensures that
participation is consistent and inclusive.
2 | Can they play any instrument?
Children are able to learn musical
instruments from Year 2 upwards, although
those without their two front teeth have
to wait until they appear, before they can
begin the wind and brass instruments!
There is a fantastic scheme at Lynams which
allows children to explore and experience
all instruments on offer so they and their
parents can choose the right instrument.
The Dragon excels at matching children
to the correct instruments to ensure the
highest possible success rate. Ensembles
begin at Lynams with the Year 2 and Year
3 Music Makers programme which is a
wonderful opportunity for the children; this
is then continued, nurtured and developed
during their time at the Dragon. The current
instruments available to learn are: Piano,
Flute, Recorder, Clarinet, Percussion, Drum
Kit, Bassoon, Saxophone, Bagpipes, Violin,
Viola, Cello, Double Bass, Oboe, Trumpet,
Trombone, French Horn, Voice, Guitar and
3 | What level can a child reach and
how do they prepare for exams?
Children learn at different speeds and
in many different styles therefore the
programme that we offer caters for all
abilities. Some children are keen to race
through all the grades and others prefer
not to have the pressure of preparing for
an examination. Our large number of exam
results each year are testament to the hard
work and hours of dedicated practice that
take place both in the Music School and at
home. We have a few children who achieve
Grade 8 before they leave the Dragon but
this is exceptional and the very high grades,
such as 7 and 8 are normally obtained by
the children who go on to apply for Music
Scholarships and Exhibitions at their future
schools. The vast number of examining
boards alone shows differentiation and
recognition of all learners. At the Dragon,
we hold examinations each year with the
following boards: ABRSM, Trinity, Rock
School, RGT and London College of Music.
Children are prepared thoroughly for the
varying syllabi in their weekly individual
music lessons and are often encouraged to
perform their pieces in Informal Concerts,
Assemblies and Sunday Services before the
4 | Where do you go on music tours and
how often?
We try to ensure that one musical group
tours every academic year and we share
the tours between the Choirs, Bands and
At Easter 2013, there was a combined
Choir and Strings Tour to Venice which
was an enormous success for the Dragon
School Choir and Dragonetti Strings. They
performed many concerts during their
time away, including a special service at
St Mark’s Basilica.
The Concert Band and Big Band
embarked on a tour to Belgium in Easter
2014 which combined culture, history
and music into a fantastic 6 day trip.
The concert at Oostende took place in a
band stand in the middle of the market
square and the Concert Band performed
favourites such as Skyfall, You Raise me
Up and Ain’t no mountain high enough.
Big Band followed with a mixture of
Latin, Funk, Pop and Jazz arrangements.
The children were privileged to perform
two hymns at the Last Post Ceremony at
the Menin Gate which was a very special
and moving service. The service was
an incredible experience for our young
musicians with a congregation of over
1000 visitors plus army personnel and
uniformed officers performing the bugle
call and last post.
Other concerts included the British
School of Brussels and St Michael’s
Church in Ghent.
The newly formed ‘Idris Choir’ went
on tour to Normandy, France to sing a
Christmas programme in two prestigious
churches during exeat in the Christmas
Term 2014. Their first concert was in the
12th century Eglise-de-Sainte-Marguerite-
de-Carrouges and it was beautiful in the
candlelit church. The repertoire was a
mixture of carols, Christmas songs and
traditional choral pieces as well as a
song in French. The second concert took
place in Eglise de Notre Dame in Ecouche
which was a very impressive building
with superb acoustics. They mustered
their last drops of musical energy to give
a wonderful performance and received
a standing ovation from a packed
5 | What is different about music at
the Dragon?
The Dragon’s ensemble programme
defines it as a school of musical
excellence, as ensemble playing is both
encouraged and facilitated from an
early stage, as outlined above. The fact
the ensembles programme is part of
the curriculum, and there are regular
performances opportunities for all,
ensures that all children learning an
instrument benefit from the valuable
ensemble experience of working with
their peers and specialist staff to achieve
musical excellence. This facility enables
us to enhance a child’s musical education
like no other Prep School and underpins
our departmental philosophy. The sheer
numbers involved with music-making at
the Dragon show how the department
has developed and flourished to ensure
that it is recognised as a place of
• 527 children have 1 or more weekly
music lesson(s)
• 87% pupil participation (instrument
or choir)
• All pupils take part in weekly class
music lessons
• 860 music lessons per week at Dragon
and Lynams
• 54 high calibre specialist teachers
• 48 classroom lessons weekly
6 | Who teaches Music?
There are currently 55 members of staff
working in the Music Department who
are all music specialists. They aim to
meet the needs of the musically talented
as well as helping every child to discover
real enjoyment in making music. The
ability of these staff to inspire children
in their individual lessons as well as
when leading ensembles, means that all
abilities can perform to an extremely
high standard.
7 | What facilities do you have?
The Music Department is housed in a
purpose-built accommodation which
includes a spacious classroom and a suite
of smaller practice rooms. Further state-
of-the-art practice rooms were added in
the Summer of 2008 which have provided
thirteen sound-proofed pods in which
lessons are taught and rehearsals are held.
However, with an increasing department,
and with over 800 individual weekly
lessons being held, it is time to expand!
When the music department was first
built, music was largely recreational and
aimed at the musically gifted. However,
we now have a musical programme in
which all pupils are engaged in making
music, singing or playing an instrument
either in class music lessons or individual
music tuition and ensembles. In fact,
there are over 40 ensembles taking place
each week in school, of which 30 are open
to all children regardless of standard and
The new Music School will:
• Provide rehearsal, performance and
learning space to accommodate our
current needs and allow for our future
• Increase opportunities to practise,
perform and learn
• Reduce time wasted travelling and
setting up
• Retain and recruit the best staff
• Motivate and inspire pupils
• Bring music to the heart of the School
in its location and curriculum aims
Between 11th -14th November 2014, with
five days’ notice, we were visited by fourteen
ISI (Independent Schools Inspectorate)
inspectors. They undertook an integrated
inspection of the School which included Early
Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and boarding.
ISI reports do not provide a single
overarching judgement for the school but
instead give a clear judgement on each aspect
of the School’s work at the beginning of each
These headline statements must include one
of the ISI descriptors, “excellent”, “good”,
“sound” or “unsatisfactory” and, where the
quality of the pupils’ achievements and
learning is “exceptional”, that term may be
used for the top grade in that single category.
For all other categories, the top grade is
The inspectors’ concluding judgements were:
The quality of the pupils’ achievements and
learning –
The contribution of curricular and extra-
curricular provision -
The quality of teaching –
The spiritual, moral, social and cultural
developments of the children –
The contribution of arrangements for
pastoral care -
The contribution of arrangements for
welfare, health and safety –
The quality of governance –
The quality of leadership and management,
including links with parents, carers and
guardians –
The quality of boarding education –
Outcomes for boarders –
Provision and care –
Welfare and safeguarding –
Leadership and management of boarding –
This means the Dragon scored the top grade
in every category and it is a great testimony
to the superb work of all the children and
staff at the school.
Music is an integral part of life at the Dragon and its’ unique
ensembles programme ensures that every child is nurtured and
encouraged to achieve their musical potential. There is an ever-
increasing focus on music in the National Curriculum and the way in
which it can impact on, and enhance, learning in other subjects and
areas of life. The pleasure that music gives the children, staff and
parents at the Dragon is testament to the wonderful music-making
that takes place every day in the Music Department.
1. forming an exception or rare
instance; unusual; extraordinary:
2. unusually excellent; superior:
1,2-3 6-7,8-9,10-11,12
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