Music

Head of Department: Dr David Force -


CLASS MUSIC

Class Music

Class music is taught to all children from the Nursery to year 8. Our ethos is that learning, reading, singing, playing, creating and reacting to music is the norm for all children. Most year groups have two lessons a week, one of which is a practical session and the other focuses on the history and theory of music. The curriculum covers all periods of Western classical music and also includes world music, folk, jazz and pop. In the pre-prep there is a strong focus on music and movement to provide a thorough grounding in the concepts of pitch and rhythm.

At various stages between years 3-5 pupils learn to read the treble clef and receive tuition on the violin, recorder and keyboard. All pupils play in the class band sessions from year 6 onwards once a week. There are also opportunities for creative work using traditional and technology-based methods.
Class Music

INSTRUMENTAL TUITION

Saint Ronan's School: INSTRUMENTAL TUITION

All pupils receive a term’s tuition on the violin in Year 3, after which some go on to take up the violin, viola, cello or double bass. In Year 4 everyone participates in the Recorder Karate programme and many then begin lessons on orchestral brass or woodwind instruments or the saxophone. All pupils also follow a keyboard course in Year 5 so that those who choose not to learn an instrument can participate fully in the class band lessons, one of which takes place each week for everyone in years 6-8. Pupils can also take lessons in piano, percussion, singing and music theory.

Each of the visiting music teachers holds a concert for all their pupils each year, and we also host two Open Weeks in which parents may attend their child’s lesson and talk to the teacher.

Saint Ronan's School: INSTRUMENTAL TUITION

ENSEMBLES

Saint Ronan's School: ENSEMBLES

The department runs a variety of ensembles and choirs that allow children to develop the valuable skills of working in a musical group. Most rehearsals take place in ring-fenced time slots that avoid clashes with other activities.

Our youngest string players start their ensemble experience in Year 3 and then go on to join the Junior Strings in Year 4.

Saint Ronan's School: ENSEMBLES
Saint Ronan's School: ENSEMBLES

String players then progress to the Intermediate Strings and eventually the Senior Strings in Year 7 or 8. The string groups feature in the Sizzling Strings concert each summer and usually participate in the Michaelmas and Founder’s Day concerts too.

For wind players, there is a Jazz Band and separate ensembles for flutes, oboes and bassoons. The wind groups play in the Wonder of Wind concert in the spring.

Saint Ronan's School: ENSEMBLES
Saint Ronan's School: ENSEMBLES
Saint Ronan's School: ENSEMBLES

The Sinfonia is the orchestra for players in years 5 and 6. The children learn about orchestral discipline and playing with other instruments, and perform at two concerts each year.

The senior Orchestra is for players in years 7 and 8. It also presents two concerts a year and tackles ambitious repertoire that provide pupils with a musical challenge.

Saint Ronan's School: ENSEMBLES
Saint Ronan's School: ENSEMBLES

There are Junior and Senior Guitar ensembles that also provide opportunities for singers and percussionists to perform pop repertoire at the major concerts.

For singers, there are separate year-group choirs for pupils in years 3-5. The Chamber Choir sings mainly secular repertoire and is open to pupils in years 6-8.

Saint Ronan's School: ENSEMBLES
Saint Ronan's School: ENSEMBLES

All pupils sing twice a week in chapel, and we have congregational practices to learn new music and practice good technique. There is also the annual House Shout in which the houses compete in a programme of hymns and songs before an adjudicator.

CONCERTS

Performing is central to music-making at Saint Ronan’s, and all the children gain experience in concerts from the Nursery upwards. The Nursery and Pre-Prep children participate in the Nativity performances, the Easter Bonnet Parade, and in their own Founder’s Day Concert. Children in years 3 and 4 perform as soloists in the internal Afternoon Concerts, while older children perform to the whole school in the termly Soloists’ Soirees.

Saint Ronan's School: ENSEMBLES
Saint Ronan's School: ENSEMBLES

There are concerts each year devoted specifically to the string ensembles and wind groups, and there are two major concerts each year that feature the Sinfonia, the Orchestra and other ensembles. The whole school attends 10 of these events each year, at which parents are warmly welcomed. There are also many other opportunities to perform in other contexts, such as chapel services, grandparents’ teas, carol singing and ad-hoc events.

Saint Ronan's School: ENSEMBLES
Saint Ronan's School: ENSEMBLES

From time to time we perform outside of school or embark on projects that allow the children to shine in different ways. For example, we have performed at the Rye Festival, we have won Rock Band competitions, we have sung in local churches, pupils have recorded their own CDs, and we have topped the official children’s record charts with a charity song featuring the whole school.

Saint Ronan's School: ENSEMBLES
Saint Ronan's School: ENSEMBLES

We enjoy good links with the music departments in local senior schools and often attend concerts, workshops and music days there. We currently have five children who sing with the National Youth Girls’ Choir, and other pupils participate in the National Youth Jazz Academy, the Royal Academy Junior Department, and the various county orchestras and choirs.

Saint Ronan's School: ENSEMBLES
Saint Ronan's School: ENSEMBLES
 
 
 
 

SCHOLARSHIPS

Pupils who gain ABRSM grade 5 in voice or on their instrument become Saint Ronan’s music scholars and are entitled to free lessons. We have a strong track record of achieving scholarships at many senior schools, including specialist music schools: in the five academic years between 2016 and 2021, Saint Ronan’s musicians have won 39 scholarship awards at senior schools.
Saint Ronan's School: ENSEMBLES
 
 
 
 

MUSIC STAFF

The department has two full-time and one part-time class teachers, a full-time administrator, and twenty specialist visiting music teachers, some of whom help to run the ensembles (See video below).

David Force is the Director of Music. He teaches class music to years 5-8 and runs the Orchestra, Sinfonia and Chapel Choir. He also plays the organ in chapel, takes congo, and is ready at any time to play the piano for anyone who needs it. In his other life, Dr Force is an academic specialising in English music of the seventeenth century and plays a variety of strange instruments in an early music ensemble.
Saint Ronan's School: Dr David Force. Director of Music
Lesley-Anne Hill looks after the class music teaching from the pre-prep through to Year 4. She also runs the year group choirs and the Chamber Choir, as well as the legendary Recorder Karate programme that fills every corridor and corner of Saint Ronan’s with music each spring. In her other life she has a pet squirrel called Alan.
Saint Ronan's School: Lesley-Anne Hill Music Teacher
Tom Elliott teaches the violin and some Y5 and 6 class music. He also runs the Senior Strings and is a keen cricketer. For many years Tom was a full-time professional violinist and later headed music centres and orchestras in the north of England; he is now busy working with several arts organisations in the south-east. In his other life he ran a solar panel company.
Saint Ronan's School: Tom Elliot Hill Music Teacher
Debbie Katis is the music administrator who makes sure that everything happens when and where it should. She organises the lesson times and ensembles, and is the first person to go to if you need the answer to anything. After a career in the film industry Debbie taught in the pre-prep before moving upstairs to the music department. In her other life she is a jazz singer, panto star and enjoys spending time with her horse and sheep.
Saint Ronan's School: Debbie Katis is the music administrator
 
 
 
 

Watch our Video - The Doctor and the Peris.