Our Music Department enjoys a fine reputation and we aim to enrich this community through music and to enthuse and nurture every single musician at this school - be it the beginner or the gifted music scholar - be it via a school ensemble, an academic music lesson or an instrumental lesson. Diversity, eclecticism and a tailor made programme is key, along with a team of dedicated and talented staff.
Around 450 instrumental music lessons each week are personally organised by the Music Department's Assistant who factors in specific needs such as pupils learning two or more instruments, the busy school calendar and any potential conflicts that might arise with timetabling; this central co-ordination ensures good communication between teacher, pupil and Housemaster. Our superb team of around 26 visiting music teachers cover all instruments and are joined by the full-time team - the Head of Academic Music, the Head of Instrumental Studies and the Director of Music. In addition to this, we have a College Organist who is on hand to assist with extra accompanying and aural development, and our Music Technician who records every concert and teaches Music Technology as an activity and on a one to one basis. Theory is delivered free of charge to small groups of 2 or 3 pupils to maximise development.
The department is housed in a purpose-built three-storey building alongside the Bradby Hall, an attractive concert hall of considerable architectural and acoustic merit that is centrally located within the school, used for smaller concerts and our many rehearsals.
These premises also house: two classrooms with 25 MACs, a Mac Music Technology studio, offices for the resident staff, 18 practice studios open from 7:00am – 10:00pm each day equipped with Yamaha pianos, a harpsichord, 3 harps, 5 grand pianos (including both a Steinway and Yamaha in the Bradby). In addition to this, we have a percussion studio and an impressive range of percussion instruments, 5 drum-kit set-ups (2 with PA systems to enable rock bands to simply turn up and play), a host of practice amps and a good stock of orchestral instruments to hire out when needed.
Major concerts also take place in the main school hall ('Big School'), and in Chapel in which we have our superb Klais, 2 manual organ.
We have enjoyed the benefits of having VOCES8, the Pavao, Cavaleri and Sacconi String Quartets, Onyx Brass, the Eclipse Saxophone Quartet, National Saxophone Choir of Great Britain, SF8, on a residence scheme, along with visits from the likes of Joanna MacGregor, Schola Cantorum of Oxford, the Boyan Ensemble of Kiev… We seek to offer as many performance opportunities as possible to our pupils (over 50 music events each year), ranging from formal concerts at prestigious venues, to jazz evenings, musicals, large choral society concerts, large school concerts, tours and informal recitals in school.
We are fortunate to have four 'priority slots' in each week that enables us to line up our wealth of choirs and ensembles without 'interference', though many chamber ensembles also get together outside of these priority slots. Wednesday afternoons offer an additional 'activity time' in which the more dedicated musicians can focus on music-making; this offers perfect moments to develop specific skill-building, or to have a small cohort of musicians playing to pupils at a nearby primary school or a home for the elderly.
Choral music is one of Haileybury's greatest strengths and the Chapel and Chamber Choirs are the flagship choral ensembles; the former (c.75 strong and unauditioned) leads the religious music in the school's Chapel - sitting geographically at the heart of the school - whilst the latter (c.30 invited pupils) tends to focus on close harmony and jazzier music. The Chamber Choir have regularly featured in the BBC Songs of Praise School Choir of the Year, winning in 2005, runners up in 2004 and semi-finalists in 2008 and 2011. On a larger scale, the Choral Society (which welcomes parents, staff and members of the local community) gathers in the Spring Term and presents at least one concert a year in Chapel, accompanied by a professional orchestra and our best pupil instrumentalists. We focus on Madrigals in the Summer term for our annual concert that has been running for over 70 years in the idyllic setting of Great Amwell on the water. Smaller vocal groups are regularly drawn from the larger choirs on a project basis.
At the heart of our approach to instrumental music is the opportunity for pupils to explore and perform a wide range of repertoire. The school's leading instrumental ensembles are central to this approach and many core works are performed by the three Jazz Bands, Concert Orchestra, Wind Band, String Orchestra and smaller Chamber ensembles. Just as important, however, is the incredible number of intermediate and junior ensembles which train and enthuse many of our younger musicians each week.
On an individual level, pupils are offered numerous opportunities to perform throughout the year, either in informal or formal settings, in workshops, and in venues both in and away from school. In addition to termly Associated Board and Trinity Guildhall music exams, many pupils work towards London College's Music Theatre exams and the Rock School exams taken each year.
Supervised practice takes place for the Lower School boarders three mornings a week, and for the Removes and Middles' Music Scholars.
The school's most talented pupils, many of whom are music scholars, enjoy additional provision that may include specialist teaching, additional coaching and the possibility of attending Music Conservatoires on Saturdays. Some pupils will have the chance to perform and organise their own solo recitals, to perform solos with the Chapel Choir and Choral Society, or to perform major concerto works with orchestras. We have enjoyed helping many a pupil attain a diploma, and gaining scholarships to Oxford and Cambridge Universities and the Music Conservatories.
Biennially, the entire school rallies to the excitements of the House Music Competition, and opportunities to perform in musicals have included Into the Woods, Oliver!, South Pacific, My Fair Lady, Sweeney Todd.
Our academic aspirations have been fulfilled in equal measure over the years in GCSE, A Levels and IB, with a number of our leavers attaining University and Conservatoire places before venturing forth into the music industry. There are more than 100 academic classes every fortnight covering Year 7-9 academic music, GCSE, A Level and IB Music. Please see the academic music page for more information on these options.