This is a young, vibrant department whose members believe that music is for everyone, and we encourage all pupils who pass through our doors to at least 'give it a try!' Enthusiasm is the order of the day and pupils are encouraged to share their music-making regularly through an extensive concert programme.
There are two specialist academic teachers (as well as a Director of Preparatory School Music) who are supported by a group of part time specialist and non-specialist staff who make a vital contribution to the musical life of the school by directing many of our ensembles.
The Music Department is situated on the second floor of the main school building at the heart of community life. It comprises a recital room, teaching room, computer suite, recording studio and eight purpose-built practice rooms.
The recital room, with its vaulted ceiling, provides a large rehearsal space with excellent acoustics. It houses a Steinbach baby grand piano and an organ. As its name suggests, it is also used for small scale concerts and can seat an audience of up to one hundred. Larger concerts are staged in the Memorial Hall which is home to a Yamaha baby grand piano.
The fully equipped teaching room leads on to a computer lab that runs the latest music software to aid GCSE and A-level composition. Of the eight purpose-built practice rooms, five have pianos, two have clavinovas (electric pianos) and one is a percussion room which houses two drum kits and various other percussion instruments. An instrument locker room provides a safe and convenient place for pupils to store their instruments during the school day.
Music is taught to all pupils up to Year 9. It becomes optional at GCSE and beyond. We usually take 18-25 GCSE pupils and up to six A-level pupils in each year. For many years the Department has had a 100% pass rate at GCSE, and a 100% A or B grading at AS and A level. Most years, we have A-level musicians who progress to study music at conservatoires or university departments.
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A music scholar should have a genuine love for the subject first and foremost, and show the potential of what is to come!
Music scholarships are offered at 11+, 13+ and 16+. Music scholars are expected to achieve at least these standards:
- 11+ Grade 3+ on principal instrument Second study instrument or the ability to sing
- 13+ Grade 4/5+ on principal instrument Second study instrument or the ability to sing
- 16+ Grade 6/7+ on principal instrument Grade 4+ on second study instrument or a good vocal ability
Individual music lessons are taught by a team of over twenty visiting music teachers, many of whom are practising professional players. Lessons are available on all orchestral instruments (including the harp) as well as piano, organ, voice, percussion and guitar.
Lessons last 35 minutes and happen throughout the school day. Sixth formers are taught within their private study whilst pupils in Years 7-11 are taught on a rota system.
At West Buckland we believe that music-making should be a social activity, and that whilst individual practice is vital, there is also a lot of progress to be made through making music with others. It is for this reason that pupils are strongly encouraged to participate in our comprehensive ensemble programme. Most of the ensembles rehearse at lunchtime, although smaller chamber groups do find other suitable times within the school day. All ensembles share the fruits of their labour in regular concert performances. Our ensembles include:
- Chamber Choir
- Chamber Orchestra
- Senior Concert Band
- WBJ (West Buckland Jazz)
- String Quartet
- Junior Boys’ Choir
- Junior Girls’ Choir
- Junior Concert Band
- Junior String Orchestra
- Samba Band
- Guitar Group
- North Devon Sinfonia
The North Devon Sinfonia is a full-scale symphony orchestra which is directed by West Buckland School Director of Music Emma Kent. It performs four concerts a year and specialises in Romantic and 20th Century repertoire. String players who are Grade 7 and above and wind and brass players who are Grade 8 and above may join, subject to audition. This ensemble ensures that our more talented players are stretched to their full ability and given the opportunity to perform in a full-scale symphony orchestra on a regular basis.
Choral Evensong at Exeter Cathedral, 4th September 2013
View the gallery for a snapshot of West Buckland music in action
Director of Music
Mrs Emma Kent BMus (Birmingham Cons), PGDip (RCM) (2004)
Assistant Director of Music:
Miss Olya Shafikova BMus (Hons), MMus (Guildhall),
Director of Prep School Music
Mr Dominic Carter MA Cantab, LRAM PGDip (RAM)