Specialist music staff and visiting peripatetic teachers deliver a comprehensive music curriculum across the school from Nursery to Year 11. There are opportunities for pupils to receive individual tuition on all of the main orchestral instruments as well as piano, singing and percussion. The Music Department consists of one large teaching classroom within the main school. This is equipped with a suite of PC’s with the latest Sibelius score writing software. There are also seven instrumental teaching rooms, four of which are located in the Music Lodge. Within the Music Lodge, there is a drum studio, equipped with electric and acoustic drum kits. The school also have three harps, including one full sized pedal harp and two folk harps. These are available for Harp pupils to use. The music department stage all of their concerts in the Pritchard Hall, which includes raked seating and orchestra pit.
Pupils can choose to receive additional group violin lessons at the end of Year 1 and for the duration of Year 2. Year 2 pupils may also begin individual violin and piano lessons. All pupils take part in a weekly singing assembly and may join the Infant Choir. There are opportunities for pupils to perform during the course of the year.
Extra-curricular music plays a large part in pupils’ life at St Nicholas’. All junior pupils sing in the Junior Choir and take part in a hymn practice every other week. Pupils in Years 5 and 6 may audition for the Junior Chamber Choir and all instrumentalists are included in the Junior Orchestra. There is also a Junior Guitar Ensemble and two Junior Rock Bands.
There are many opportunities for pupils to perform throughout the year, both at school and in the wider community. In each term there is an Informal Junior Concert for solo performances and in the Spring Term, the Junior Music Evening, which showcases each of the Junior Music Ensembles. Pupils also perform on Open Days and at Prize Giving in the Summer Term. Performances in the community have recently included visits to Hill House Nursing Home and Keble Court Retirement Home. Pupils also participate in the annual House Music Competition. Scholarships are available for entry into Year 7. Further details can be obtained from the School Office.
Pupils in Years 7 and 9 continue to receive two music curriculum music lessons per week and pupils in Years 8 and 10 receive one weekly lesson. In Years 10 and 11, pupils may opt to take music as a GCSE subject, receiving 2 double lessons a week. The senior music curriculum for Years 7-9 focuses on the Elements of Music, with the aim of developing pupils’ ability to listen to and analyse music in greater depth. Lessons are practical and provide opportunities for pupils to compose and perform their own music. Pupils currently learn about Tango, Waltz, The Western Classical tradition, Minimalism, Film Music, Indian Music, The Blues and Popular Music.
Pupils continue to enjoy a range of extra-curricular music activities in the Senior School. There is a Senior Choir open to all pupils and the Senior Chamber Choir, which is auditioned. All string players and some wind and brass players are members of the Senior Orchestra, with string players from grade 4 and upwards also playing in the Senior Chamber Orchestra. All pupils who learn a Wind or Brass instrument play in the Swing Band, and all Guitar players are members of the Senior Guitar Ensemble. There are also two Senior Rock Bands.
There are a variety of performing opportunities for senior pupils both at school and in the wider community. There are termly informal concerts for solo performances and in the Summer Term, the Senior Music Evening and Prize Giving Concert, which showcase all of the Senior Music Ensembles. Pupils also perform at the termly open Days. In addition to this, pupils participate in the Basingstoke Music Festival and perform each year at Hill House Nursing Home. There is also the annual House Music Competition, which is run by pupils in Year 10.