The provision of extra-curricular music is a key feature of our school and participation levels are exceptionally high. Over one third of all boys participate in music lessons and we have no fewer than 18 ensembles, each led by a specialist music teacher. Student involvement at every level forms a key feature of our music provision and this is facilitated through our pupil-led Music Society. Visits overseas, regular Music Society and Chamber Concerts, music competitions and a host of community activities all combine to make extra-curricular music something that is very special at Wirral Grammar School. Our parents believe that our music provision contributes significantly to pupils’ cultural and spiritual development.
This section of our website provides further information of the breadth and extent of our music provision.
The Music Department has a staff of qualified professional instrumental teachers who visit the school during the week to give tuition on a wide variety of instruments. Every boy entering the school will have the opportunity to have lessons on an instrument of his own choice and all Year 7 boys can receive the first set of ten lessons at half price. Currently over 250 boys in school receive music lessons, with approximately half of Year 7 taking advantage of the subsidised rate.
The lessons are scheduled on a weekly basis and the length is thirty minutes. Lessons are usually arranged on a rota system so that a boy may not miss the same period more than once each half term. Experience has proved that this is not detrimental to the pupils’ general progress, which is monitored closely. Some lessons can be timetabled for a lunch-hour or after school, though priority for these lessons goes to senior boys studying for exams.
The Department has some instruments available for short-term loan, although the expectation is that boys will purchase their own as soon as their familiarity with the instrument increases.
There is an Orchestra, Concert Band, String Group, Folk Group, Brass Group, Junior Brass Group, Woodwind Group, Electric Guitar Group, Clarinet Quartet, Samba Band, Ukulele Group and two Rock Bands which rehearse every week, as well as a Joint Chamber Orchestra and Mixed Choir with the adjacent Girls’ School. Once boys reach an appropriate standard they will be invited to join one or more of the groups. Boys are strongly encouraged to take part, as it dramatically improves their playing, and brings them into social contact with boys of different ages and musical abilities.
The School Choir meets every week during the academic year, with separate rehearsals for the different sections of the Choir during the lunch hour as well as full rehearsals (SATB) after school. The Choir numbers approximately fifty voices and membership is open to all boys on completion of a short voice test, with reliability and commitment being of equal importance. Some boys take advantage of our singing teacher who encourages boys to make the most of their vocal talent.
The Choir leads the service of Nine Lessons and Carols in December and also performs in Concerts outside school, including regular International tours. As well as appearing in the Music Society’s regular termly concerts, the Choir also takes part in joint performances with the adjoining Girl’s School.
All boys who take part in musical groups in school are automatically members of the Music Society. The Society is run by a Forum, consisting of senior pupils and representatives of each of the instrumental/vocal groups. This Forum controls the day to day running of the Society’s activities under the direction of the teaching staff, as well as organising special fund raising activities, trips to local musical events and the end of year dinner, which usually proves very popular!
The Department organises 4 exam sessions each year with the Associated Board, London College and Trinity Exam Board. Last year 65 boys performed to an external examiner and reached the required standard to pass graded exams on a variety of different instruments, receiving certificates for their achievement.
A tradition that started back in 1997, musical tours are arranged every two years and the Department has now travelled to Canada, Italy (twice), Spain, Austria, Germany (twice) and France. In the summer of 2013, 56 boys and 7 staff will travel to Malta for 6 days to perform in local churches and bandstands. Flying out from London Gatwick, the tour will incorporate the island’s main attractions, including the Blue Grotto natural caverns, the dungeons of Madina, and a local water park. Tours always prove highly popular and a memorable experience for all concerned and this tradition is sure to continue for many years to come.
Three concerts are given by approximately 150 boys in the School Hall every year, involving fifteen ensembles performing music in a wide variety of styles. More informal concerts are also given each term in the School Hall and so there are plenty of opportunities for soloists as well as the various ensembles to perform. There is a competition open to all boys in the Spring Term, with performers given the chance to win a number of exciting prizes! In addition, there are other opportunities each year to perform within the local community and Merseyside. A number of boys were able to travel back to their old primary school in June to perform with ensembles to groups of Years 4-6 children, an event that has seen the school visit 53 primary schools in the last 11 years.
The Music Centre now has a new state-of-the-art music suite comprising two music rooms for classroom teaching. The largest of these is used by most of the ensembles for rehearsing and is the largest teaching classroom in the school. There are keyboards and computers along three sides of the room for use in class, and the second music room also has keyboards and computers for use by pairs of students in a more traditional desk set-up. These are all used extensively in composition and performance and form an essential part of the classwork, including at GCSE and A level. There is also a small technology room which can be used for recording purposes, three new practice rooms in addition to the three rooms already available across the yard, and a dedicated music office.
|Mr K McCabe||Director of Music. Director of Senior Choir, Orchestra and Rock Bands|
|Miss C McEntee||Class Teacher, Director of Junior Choir|
|Mr P Thomas||Music Assistant, Brass, Director of the Brass Group|
|Mr F Arnell||Electric Guitar, Director of Electric Guitar Group|
|Mrs S Bell||Piano|
|Miss G Burgess||Violin, Director of Folk Group|
|Mrs A Chalmers||String Teacher|
|Miss J Crossley||Clarinet, Director of the Clarinet Sextet|
|Miss N Cox||Vocals|
|Mrs A Davies||Piano|
|Ms J Evans||Oboe, Bassoon and Piano|
|Mr M Burke||Director of the Samba Band|
|Miss G Lamb||Flute, Saxophone|
|Mrs L Lee||Clarinet / Saxophone, Director of the Woodwind Group|
|Mr D Lockett||Guitar|
|Mr B Knowles||Brass, Director of the Junior Brass Group|
|Mr R McGrath||Percussion and Drumkit|
|Mr A Menezes||Keyboard, Director of Keyboard Ensemble|
|Mr M Peters||Director of the Concert Band|
|Mr N Byrne||Cello|
As you can see from the above list, we have teachers for a very wide range of instruments, and tuition for other instruments may be available on request. Subject to availability, boys can start lessons at any time of year, although September in Year 7 is by far the most preferable. Should you need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact the Music Department at the School who will endeavour to answer any queries you may have.