Music is an integral part of life at Saint Ronan’s: there is a hardly a moment when it cannot be heard somewhere in the school and all the children take an active part in its study and performance. The Music Department is based in the Harris Building, which has two large teaching rooms and nine practice rooms. It is well-equipped with orchestral and classroom instruments, a suite of eight music computers and an extensive library of musical scores and books. The Great Space, with its grand piano, and the Chapel, with its pipe organ, are also used for concerts.
All children have two class lessons each week when they are guided through a curriculum providing the analytical, practical and creative skills needed to become a musician. The children learn to read music, sing, play the recorder and a keyboard and to participate in class-based ensembles. Music from a wide range of periods and styles is studied and creative work includes improvisation, composition and ICT-based skills, including recording, sequencing and editing.
Instrumental and Vocal Tuition
In addition to class Music lessons, all children have the opportunity to study an instrument with one of our team of experienced and highly-qualified visiting teachers. Most children in the Prep School learn an instrument, with many learning two or three. Free taster sessions are offered to interested pupils and the school has a large supply of instruments which are loaned to families. ABRSM examiners visit the school each term, with some 160 children on average taking music exams each year. An average of 75% of these achieve Merit or Distinction. An extensive programme is in place to prepare children to compete for scholarships at senior schools: in recent years our musicians have won awards at Eton, Harrow, The King’s School, Canterbury and Benenden, among many others.
Ensembles and Concerts
There is a thriving culture of performance at Saint Ronan’s. We have a full Orchestra, three String Ensembles, a Jazz Band, a Brass Band, a Junior Wind Band, a Guitar Ensemble, a Flute Choir and several Chamber Ensembles. The Chapel Choir sings regularly for services and there is a Chamber Choir and several year-group choirs. All children sing in the Chapel at least twice a week, and there is a weekly congregational singing practice. A House Song Competition is held in the Autumn in which we expect a highly-polished, formal standard of performance. Children perform frequently as soloists at all levels and as ensemble musicians. The concerts given by the main ensembles are attended by the whole school and there are numerous informal performances around the campus. Musical breakfasts, hosted by the peripatetic staff, are a popular way for parents to come into the Department, meet the teacher and see their children in action. There are also Open Weeks during which parents are invited to attend their children’s lesson.
Saint Ronan’s Music Scholarships
The school offers Music Scholarships to recognise the musical achievement of those pupils who pursue their studies beyond ABRSM Grade 5 standard (or its equivalent). Musically-talented children may also be considered for a Stanley Harris Award at the time they join the school.