Music at The Abbey
Music is central to the cultural and spiritual life of The Abbey. Music is part of our regular assemblies and all pupils come together for a weekly hymn practice. At The Abbey, we recognise the value of a comprehensive musical training in developing pupils’ cultural awareness, and we aspire to inculcate a love of music in all pupils, alongside an appreciation of music from different cultures and of different styles. Research gives empirical evidence about the benefits of a structured music education on other aspects of a pupil’s academic achievement. Learning an instrument develops concentration, and logic, sequencing and processing skills, the development of logic and the ability to persevere. Practising individually develops self-discipline and independent thinking. Engagement in structured musical activities and ensembles raises self-esteem and develops interpersonal skills in an environment where progress is tangible to the pupil as they advance through the range of groups.
All pupils in Year 3 learn an orchestral stringed instrument (violin, viola, cello and mini-bass) in small groups, coming together as a large ensemble when they are ready. Pupils who already learn a stringed instrument are taken as a separate group and given extension work as appropriate. As well as being an invaluable introduction to learning and caring for an instrument, the String Scheme helps pupils to develop their processing skills as they encounter musical notation and their listening skills as they work in a group. Learning an instrument is also good for physical coordination and working as a group adds to pupils’ enjoyment. Many pupils choose to continue learning their instrument at the end of the programme.
Pupils in Year 4 learn the recorder as part of their curriculum music, again developing awareness and understanding of musical notation and theory through practical experience. Pupils can then join a Recorder group and have the opportunity to develop their recorder playing further, or use the experience as a foundation for learning a different woodwind or brass instrument.
The vast majority of pupils at The Abbey play at least one instrument, and can opt for individual lessons on the following instruments: piano, violin, viola, cello, double bass, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, recorder, trumpet, trombone, French horn, tuba, baritone, percussion and harp. If a pupil joins The Abbey after Year 3, they can opt for a year’s free tuition on some of the rarer orchestral instruments or free paired lessons on a range of more popular instruments.
All pupils in years 3 and 4 are members of Trebles’ Choir which meets once a week. Pupils sing a range of age-appropriate songs, with the emphasis being on enjoyment as well as developing pitch awareness.
Pupils in Years 4, 5, and 6 can opt to be members of The Abbey Choir. This is non-auditioned and repertoire covers a range of styles, predominantly songs from shows and jazz whilst developing pitch and rhythm awareness.
Pupils in Years 5 and 6 can audition to be in The Abbey Singers. This choir sings secular music covering rock, jazz and classical styles, and pupils also learn to sing from a score and develop their aural skills.
Chapel choir is a small, auditioned, robed choir and it is intended for pupils who take their singing seriously, as members of Chapel Choir are also Abbey Singers. The Chapel Choir is affiliated to the Royal Schools of Church Music and enjoys the opportunity to sing termly Evensong and prepare anthems for religious celebrations. Chapel Choir members have the opportunity to work through the Royal School of Church Music’s Voice for Life certification: a scheme which traces the development of their singing technique, aural and general musicianship and pupils are awarded with certificates and a series of medals as they progress through the various stages. There is also a Head Chorister who leads this Choir. Members of Chapel Choir are also offered free group tuition with a specialist singing teacher.
Stringles is our Junior String Ensemble, and players enjoy playing specially arranged accessible music to develop their ensemble playing.
Chamber Orchestra is for the more advanced string players, and their repertoire covers a range of styles.
Recorder Group is for our younger recorder players, and they learn to play different parts and start to learn the different members of the recorder family.
Recorder Consort is for more advanced recorder players and plays a range of consort music.
During the summer term, advanced instrumentalists from The Abbey are invited to join with the year 7-9 members of Seckford Sinfonia (one of the Senior School orchestras)to form an Intermediate Orchestra which challenges their playing in an exciting, vibrant ensemble.
The Abbey has formed partnerships with other local schools in the maintained sector to form a combined schools’ orchestra.
Chamber ensembles are formed each term for each pupil wishing to participate in a smaller ensemble.
All the Choirs and Ensembles benefit from a wide range of performing opportunities, both at The Abbey and in the wider community. In addition to regular concerts for choirs, ensembles and soloists, we hold annual Music Festivals as a celebration of solo playing. Soloists can also play at the informal Lunchtime Recitals, which are a useful platform for gaining confidence and experience. We join together with the Senior School for Masterclasses and workshops with leading professional musicians, as well as for high profile concerts at Snape Maltings.