Music … gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.
Many of our Old Wycombiensians have made their names in the musical world, such as Richard Hickox (1948–2008 - conductor), Ian Drury (1942–2000 - rock musician) and Lawrence Power (b. 1977 - international viola player) with many more pursuing a career in the music profession.
To help nurture and inspire the next generation of musicians, our Junior students receive a weekly 75-minute music lesson throughout Year 7 and in modules in Year 8 and 9. This allows them the opportunity to learn how to play the ukulele, guitar and keyboard, as well as a wide selection of brass instruments. Following on from these classes, many of our young men are inspired to continue their instrumental education through individual or small group lessons and several of these students may eventually go on to read music at university or pursue further practical study at a top conservatoire. We encourage all students who are dedicated to their music, to pursue their studies all the way through to Grade 8, with the assistance and support of brilliant instrumental teachers, such as:
- Jay Craig – Saxophone (Big Band Director and Baritone Sax in the BBC Big Band)
- Marilyn Vanryne – Violin (Leader of many local orchestras)
- Alison Downie – Clarinet (Highly respected clarinet teacher)
- Simon Davie – Trumpet (Advanced skills teacher and top trumpet player in the area)
With such 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.
To further enhance our music provision, we launched a music scholarship scheme in 2018 in which boys entering the school can audition to receive free tuition on selected instruments, thus ensuring that the ‘endangered species’ instruments do not get forgotten.
Instrumental Groups at RGS
For those students playing at a junior level, there are various wind and brass groups, a junior 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 in lessons and out, 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.
Our most senior vocal group, ‘Singers Ltd’, are an acapella group consisting of around 20 sixth formers. In 2012 they were invited to take part in the Schools Prom at the Royal Albert Hall, and in 2014 they won the coveted title of Youth Choir of the Year in the competition televised by the BBC. Singers Ltd have a regular biennial exchange with a school group 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 also take part in Chiltern Music Academy; performing regularly in their concerts and taking part in their international tours every other year.
Our musical community is always thriving, and we aim to hold a major musical event at least once a month throughout the year. Our concerts are always well attended by parents and the parent run support group ‘Friends’ regularly help to raise money for our musical departments.
Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent