Head of Department: Philip Wilson
Staff Contact Details: Lorraine Latin
The Music Department at Christ’s is led by Mr Philip Wilson, Director of Music.
We aim to nurture and encourage musical talent in all fields of music; we aim to enrich young peoples’ lives through performance and composition; we aim to prepare young people for life beyond Christ’s and to develop their general cultural awareness; we aim to develop creative skills which will bring about self-confidence and maturity, as well as the increasing ability to work collaboratively with others. We aim to provide performance platforms and to act as ambassadors for the school. We aim to communicate that interaction with music is a fruitful and beneficial activity for all people.
There is a strong musical life at Christ's School, with opportunities abounding for a broad range of music making at all levels. The state-of-the-art facilities were opened by Sir Tim Rice in 2004, and the present Director of Music, Mr. Philip Wilson, has been at Christ's since 2005, a period which has seen expansion in all areas, the development of new schemes of work, consistently good GCSE results, increasing numbers learning instruments, more extra-curricular opportunities and more music events.
Christ's has excellent music technology facilities – a state-of-the-art purpose-built studio with a suite of Apple Mac computers running Logic Pro X and Sibelius software (opened in 2015), as well as a good selection of high quality microphones for various purposes and other audio equipment. Music Technology has been fully integrated into the Lower School curriculum. It is a major feature of GCSE work and there is also a Music Technology after school club. Students often use the equipment during lunch break and after school, learning to record their own music, as well as using the technology as a tool for composition. Through taking responsibility for sound, lighting and stage management for musical and other events at school, pupils can, under the guidance of the Director of Music, develop invaluable skills in the technical side of productions.
Key Stage 3
Year 7 and 8 have 90 minutes of music every week, and year 9 60 minutes; in these lessons musical ideas, techniques and styles are covered in a practical based course which includes plenty of performance (keyboards, singing, xylophones and percussion) and composition. Students often get to work in groups, perform to the class and have their work recorded onto computer or video. There are also activities which aim to develop the students' listening skills. Each of the three years has an overarching theme:
- Year 7 - The Elements of Music
- Year 8 - Music of Other Cultures
- Year 9 - The Roots of Modern Popular Music
Most years, the entire Year 7 cohort gets together to perform a cantata. Past projects have included Captain Noah and his Floating Zoo, Rinning on Rails and The Daniel Jazz; last year the pupils performed Jonah Man Jazz in our autumn concert. The Lower School music curriculum is constantly under review, and has been recently adapted to make full use of the technology suite without abandoning live performance which we believe should be at the core of every music department. Every project is designed to focus on all three of the music "attainment targets" - performing, composing and listening/appraising.
Key Stage 4
Students can opt to take GCSE Music in Years 10 and 11. They have 150 minutes of music lessons per week and follow the Edexcel syllabus. Students have an individualized programme of study and can follow many of their own creative and performance projects, besides studying a core of set works, covering all genres of music.
Key Stage 5 / Sixth Form
At Christ’s School we offer A Levels in both Music (Edexcel) and Music Technology (Edexcel). Students can opt to do either or both of these options, and advice can be given as to the suitability and advisability of doing each course.
Christ's School Music hires independent tutors offering high-quality tuition in the full range of instruments, including voice. Numbers in all areas continue to expand. The department is flexible and will aim to provide tuition in areas not previously covered if there is a need. Tuition is currently offered in piano, guitar (classical/jazz/rock/bass guitar), drums, flute, oboe, clarinet/saxophone, brass, singing, violin/viola, cello and double-bass. Individual tuition in the field of music technology may also be an option, although we do run after school clubs for this also.
Plenty of opportunities exist at Christ's for extra-curricular music. We generally host two major concerts each year, which give the chance for singers and instrumentalists to exercise their skills on the public stage. In recent years there has been considerable investment in sound and lighting equipment by the school. This has made a big difference to the presentation of major events. A concert at Christ's will typically contain: instrumental solos (classical, jazz, popular); vocal solos in a range of styles; the school choir; a band or orchestra; a variety of ensembles, large and small; rock groups; music technology; dance. We have been gifted with the funding to run free introductory lessons in some instruments. From the same source we were able to purchase a large quantity of new instruments for the department.
The department has an open-door policy at lunchtimes and after school, where students can come in and practise. Typically during most lunchtimes all available spaces in the department are being used by students, as well as teacher-directed rehearsals of various instruments and vocal groups. The department is a vibrant place.
Musically gifted pupils will be strongly encouraged to join external youth music organisations to supplement what can be achieved in school. A number of students have joined local youth orchestras (such as Ealing, Thames or Stoneleigh Youth Orchestras and the London Schools Symphony Orchestra) and have been encouraged to attend the junior departments of the main London music colleges such as the Royal College of Music.
Recent events have included:
Performance by Christ's pupils as part of at least two PTA-organized events every year.
Christ’s Jazz Band mini-tour: an annual event featuring the jazz band, which also performs in major events in school throughout the year.
Jazz concert in collaboration with composer Ben Gilbert, presented as one of our annual series of "Arts Evenings"; the evening featured the compositions of our students
A choral and orchestral concert, featuring Karl Jenkins’ Adiemus, Songs of Sanctuary, and solo performances with orchestra by two of our most advanced instrumentalists. This resulted in an invitation to perform at the Carnegie Hall in New York in the presence of the composer. In 2017 our choral and orchestral concert featured Fauré’s Requiem and concerto performances (accompanied by a largely professional orchestra) by students playing violin, viola and flute.
Occasional concerts by visiting professionals
Christ's annual Carol Service at Holy Trinity Church; this is a major musical event featuring a minimum of three choirs, orchestra and other ensembles.
A series of around five "At Homes" every year: informal small-scale concerts designed for the playing and singing of solos and small ensembles in the more intimate environment of Christ's Music Centre.
Twice yearly major concerts in our school hall
Major music/drama productions produced recently have included: Bugsy Malone; Zorro the Musical (world schools’ premiere of this piece by Gypsy Kings and John Cameron); Oliver; Arabian Nights
Regular performances in all whole school assemblies
School choir performances
Many smaller informal music events in school
Performances by school bands at public venues, including performing at the annual Jack Petchey awards in the Richmond Theatre
Performance by three of our musically gifted students at Ronnie Scott's jazz club in London as part of the "Big Band in a Day" initiative
The study of music is linked to a much wider variety of careers than many people imagine. The presenter James May is one of many broadcasters and presenters who are music graduates; many music graduates pursue careers in law, accounting, etc. as well as arts administration, the media, facilities management and many other similar areas; and there are some who do indeed pursue a career in musical performance, though this is a very hard route and only for the very talented: we do, however have recent Christ’s alumni who have followed this route! Those who continue with post-18 musical study have to choose between music college (conservatoire) and university courses; the former is more practical and geared towards musical performance, and the latter more academic, but still with a lot of practical music making. Currently we have four recent ex-students who are playing in bands professionally, one in the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and three students currently studying music at music colleges with a view to working in the profession.
Exam Board: Edexcel
Course Code: 1MU0
Students can source these directly from Mr Wilson.
Exam Board: Edexcel
Course Code: 9MU0
Students can source these directly from Mr Wilson.
Textbooks and Revision Resources
Textbooks and Revision guides:
All students will be given an anthology of scores which have revision note contained therein. All students are also given additional, more detailed notes and annotations (electronic and hard copy) published by Pearson (Edexcel)
Benefits of playing an instrument: http://www.effectivemusicteaching.com/articles/directors/18-benefits-of-playing-a-musical-instrument/
Why become a music graduate (NOT just if you want to become a professional musician!)
Mr Wilson recommends YouTube and online music encyclopedias for extended listening and other musical resources.
The list below shows the huge variety of non-musical careers that have been followed by Cambridge University Music graduates:
- Barrister (family law specialist)
- Goldman Sachs: Analyst
- Foreign & Commonwealth Office: Diplomat
- Baker Tilly: Chartered Accountant
- Lloyds TSB: Credit Analyst
- Procter & Gamble: Brand Manager
- Barclays Capital: Analyst
- Department of Work and Pensions: Strategy Team Leader
- Church of England: Vicar
- Sport England: Head of Growth
- Cambridge University: Development and Alumni Relations Officer
- IBM UK Limited: Publishing Specialist
- MC2 (Manchester): PR Consultant
- Children’s Society: Trustee
- MP specializing in Human Rights and International Development
- Conference and Exhibition Producer
- Kings College London: Programme Director in Child Studies
- Clon Communications: Technical Leader (software development)
- Hammersmith & Fulham Borough Council: Team Support Officer
- Dorling Kindersley: Editor
- Naxos Audio Books: Publisher