Music is a key component of life for musicians and non-musicians, therefore it is embedded in every child’s education at the Dragon. In a department of fifty staff, we help every child to achieve their musical potential with a vast array of performance opportunities at every level.
Dragon School delivers nearly 800 individual music lessons a week on a diverse array of instruments from traditional orchestral to rock and pop as well as more unusual instruments like the harp and the bagpipes, and runs 60 music groups a week catering for a variety of musical tastes from classical to jazz. In addition, we have a unique Ensembles Programme in which every child taking instrumental lessons will play in their corresponding ensemble. This is protected Music time in which children learn to listen, play as part of a team, count, sight-read as well as valuable social skills.
Lessons & Ensembles
Our Music Department is committed to forging links with other schools in the area as we believe that music is a natural facilitator to meet new friends and enjoy ensemble playing with other like-minded musicians.
We regularly collaborate with Oxford Philharmonic for our DragonPhil Days where we invite local primary schools to bring their musicians to participate in a day of specialised music with professional musicians. We annually rotate between Percussion, Strings and most recently Wind and Brass.
Dragon Pre-Prep annually host the Year 3 Singing Day, attended by over 200 children from 6 local schools, including Oxford High, St Ebbe’s, St Barnabas, Pegasus and Windale. The children learn to sing in 2, 3, and 4-part harmony and always give a fantastic final performance.
We have recently begun a new programme of taking a Gamelan to local schools with specialists to teach about the music of Indonesia. It has been very successful in bringing children together of many different backgrounds.
Dragon School Choir perform for charity in a variety of venues, both in Oxford and London. Previous charities supported include the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, ZANE and Nordoff Robins.
There are a variety of opportunities each year for our musicians to perform in prestigious venues outside of School; recently these have included St John’s Smith Square, Christ Church Cathedral, Symphony Hall in Birmingham, Merton College, Cadogan Hall London, St Luke’s Chelsea, the Sheldonian Theatre and Town Hall in Oxford. There are also overseas tours, most recently to Belgium, Venice and Paris.
Lessons & Ensembles
In addition to music lessons within the curriculum, 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 exams through the Associated Board, Trinity-Guildhall (mostly strings), London College of Music (guitar) and Rockschool (electric guitar and drums). 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 Activity Time. Music is taught by a team of nearly 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.
Performance opportunities in School also include the annual Carol Service, Spring Concert and Summer Serenade as well as the annual Piano Festival. 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 on the main stage at Disneyland Paris.
Our Ensembles Programme defines the Dragon as a school of musical excellence, as ensemble playing is both encouraged and facilitated from an early stage. It enables us to enhance a child’s musical education like no other Prep School and underpins our departmental philosophy. Ensemble experience at a level appropriate to ability is prioritised within the School during the Activity programme and led by specialist musicians; all children who receive individual music lessons, whether instrumental or vocal, benefit from this protected music time.
Groups include wind and brass band, string ensemble, choir, guitar ensemble, saxophone choir and piano ensembles. They provide a unique platform for children to learn vital communication, listening, theory and practical skills as well as developing team work, enabling the children to perform in termly concerts for their respective year; concerts which are entirely inclusive. The ability of the full-time staff to lead these groups and enable all abilities to perform to such a high standard is outstanding.