Individual Music Lessons
In addition to class music lessons, pupils are encouraged to learn one or more musical instruments. There are opportunities for solo performances in form concerts, regular Informal concerts, Assemblies and Sunday Services throughout the year. In addition pupils are prepared for Associated Board (general), Trinity-Guildhall (mostly strings), London College of Music (guitar) and Rockschool (electric guitar and drums) practical examinations, as appropriate. Arrangements are made, as required, to prepare pupils for Music Scholarship auditions at Senior Schools and to take the Grade 5 theory examination of the Associated Board, lessons for which take place in Friday Activity time.
Music is taught by a team of over fifty specialists, who aim to meet the needs of the musically talented as well as helping every child to discover real enjoyment in making music.
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. All children who receive individual music lessons, whether instrumental or vocal, play and perform each week, in school time, at a level appropriate to their ability. Groups include wind and brass band, string ensemble, choir, guitar ensemble, saxophone choir and piano ensemble. Regular performance opportunities for pupils range from the fortnightly Informal Concerts, to class and year group assemblies, house concerts and the weekly Sunday Service. This programme ensures that all children learning an instrument in school benefit from the valuable ensemble experience of working with peers and tuition is delivered by specialist musicians. This facility enables us to enhance a child’s musical education like no other Prep School and underpins our departmental philosophy.
Performance opportunities in school also include the annual Carol Service, Spring Concert and Summer Serenade. We also facilitate concerts outside to the school which have included Dragon School Choir performing Choral Evensong at Merton College, Dragonetti Strings visiting Marlborough College for a Strings Day and Big Band performing alongside Callum Au, a professional jazz band.
In the Ensembles programme which takes place during activities for Year 5-8, children who learn a musical instrument benefit from this protected music time in which their ensemble playing experience is prioritised within the school. (Year 4 have protected music time on a Wednesday afternoon.) The ensembles provide a platform for children to learn vital communication, listening, theory and practical skills which are unique to performing in an ensemble. These attributes enable them to perform in termly concerts for Year 4, Middle School and Upper School musicians. These concerts are entirely inclusive and no pre-select musicians perform. The ability of the full time staff to lead these groups and enable all abilities to perform to such a high standard is outstanding.
We have addressed the purpose of the ensembles to ensure that every child’s needs are being catered for and this is in line with our curriculum and individual music lesson programme. We are evaluating the standard of music given to each child and looking into how further differentiation of abilities in a variety of areas, can be of more benefit to each pupil. Heads of Section liaise well with our Visiting Music Teachers to encourage pupils to practise their parts in between rehearsals.
This year has also developed in terms of concert organisation so that staff and pupils are aware of the concert logistics to enable a more concise and practical approach to concerts.