In the RGS Music Department, we strive to build a culture of musical excellence (both academically and co-curricularly) whilst maintaining a true community feel at the heart of our music-making. We are extremely proud of our long-standing musical traditions and we are dedicated to ensuring that all students receive the best musical education that we can offer, both inside and outside the classroom. Whether you enter Year 7 with limited musical experience, or whether you’re working towards Grade 8 in various instruments, we are here to guide you in your musical journey and help you realise your full musical potential.
Years 7 to 9
All students in Years 7-9 study Music as part of their academic timetable and are immediately immersed in developing not only a deep appreciation for a wide range of contrasting styles, but also building a ‘musical toolkit’ of performance and composition skills to become a more well-rounded musician. From Jazz/Blues to traditional Japanese, Reggae to Minimalism, Folk Music to Programme Music, students develop a sense of context behind their music-making. There is a strong focus on singing and building links with our co-curricular programme. We have a well-resourced department, and use a variety of digital software packages on iPads/computers for composing, as well as learning a range of instruments as a class (including keyboards, guitars, samba percussion and a full set of brass instruments). Additionally, RGS has a separate ‘Year 7 music scholarship scheme’ intended at helping fund students wishing to start a ‘shortage’ orchestral instrument.
We follow the Eduqas Music GCSE Syllabus, studying Musical Forms and Devices, Music for Ensemble, Film Music and Popular Music, as well as looking at two set works in depth. Alongside this, students are assessed in performance and composition. Students work on an ensemble and solo performance for their assessment, working on their skills during dedicated performance lessons. Students will write two compositions, one of which is in response to a set brief, also in dedicated composition lessons.
We also use Eduqas for the A Level course. There are three areas of study: The Western Classical Tradition (The Development of the Symphony 1750-1900) , Jazz, and Into the Twentieth Century. Students have the option to specialise in Performance or Composition. Students develop the skills learnt during the GCSE to perform a live recital for their A Level performance assessment, providing a minimum of three pieces for the Performance specialism, or a minimum of two if they specialise in Composition. Students specialising in Composition develop their skills across three compositions, whilst those specialising in Performance create two Compositions for this section of the assessment.
With strong musical leadership and so many talented students, we are fortunate to be able to offer a strong and vibrant co-curricular musical programme at RGS. Whether it’s before school, breaktime, lunchtime, or indeed after school, the music department is always buzzing with activity. Our musical community is always thriving, and we aim to hold a major musical event at least once a month throughout the year (including a large-scale House Music Competition, Musical production, Carol Service, Oxford Evensong trip, Jazz evenings, and visiting professional recitals) . Our concerts are always well attended, and ably assisted by our “RGS Friends of Music” – an organisation that helps to support our musical output, both financially and logistically. We are supported by a hugely experienced team of more than twenty professional peripatetic tutors (covering all vocal, orchestral and popular disciplines).
Instrumental Groups at RGS
For those students coming into Year 7, there are various junior wind and brass groups, a string ensemble and a junior guitar ensemble. In middle school, the best wind players will progress to the Flute, Clarinet and Saxophone ensembles and the Swing Band, while the string players will take part in chamber groups. Our senior level students are invited to join the classic Big Band, the Orchestra, our 40-piece symphonic wind band or various Trad Jazz Bands. We also regularly contribute to the national youth music scene and are delighted that many of our instrumental ensembles (Big Band, First Wind Band, Clarinet & Saxophone Ensembles) have appeared multiple times at the National Festival of Music for Youth in Birmingham.
Singing at RGS
Singing at RGS is greatly encouraged, both inside lessons and outside, and our Junior Choir usually has around 50 – 60 members at any one time. Our full choir which consists of 120 students (singing at either soprano, alto, tenor or bass range) regularly participates in the annual carol service and around 80 of those singers will also sing Choral Evensong in either Oxford or Cambridge.
We produce large-scale musicals at RGS, with previous successes including West Side Story, My Fair Lady and Les Mis (that incidentally has amassed nearly two million views online.
Our most senior vocal group, ‘Singers Ltd’, are an acapella group consisting of around 20 sixth formers. Highlights include having taken part in the Schools Prom at the Royal Albert Hall and winning the coveted title of Youth Choir of the Year in the competition televised by the BBC. Singers Ltd have a regular biennial exchange with an international school in Salzburg, and have sung in the cathedral there many times, as well as appearing twice in the opening weekend festivals preceding the Salzburg International Festival.
Chiltern Music Academy
We are also proud to be the home of the Chiltern Music Academy (CMA) which meets at RGS on Friday nights and at Wycombe High on Saturday mornings. Many of our students are involved; performing regularly in their concerts and taking part in their international tours every other year.