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.
At RGS, A-Level Music students follow the Eduqas specification, where student numbers greatly exceed the national average, and reflect the number of students wishing to specialise further across the three core components at GCSE. Many apply to study Music at a third-level institution (including much success at entry to Oxbridge or top Music conservatoires), but equally, many recognise the inter-disciplinary nature of music as a hugely facilitating ‘fourth subject’ for degrees as diverse as Medicine, Law, PPE, and a wide range of broader Arts and Sciences degrees. In the course, students particularly specialise in studying the Development of the Symphony (1750-1900), Jazz (1920-1960) and Early 20th Century Music (1895-1935). Students also relish the opportunity to perform a 10-12 minute recital in front of a live examiner (35%) and complete two contrasting compositions (25%).
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
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 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 This year we are performing In the Heights, with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
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.