They have encouraged him to try new things, they have taught him not to fear failure, they have stretched him academically, they have given him the world of music, they have given him the confidence to perform, they have kept him grounded and they have lit the fire in his belly to compete to win.

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The aim of class music teaching at The Beacon is to offer each boy a wide practical experience of music through curriculum lessons and extra-curricular activities. We try to engage and inspire our boys to develop a love of music, increasing their self-confidence, creativity and sense of achievement. The boys will perform through singing and instrumental work, create music of their own through practical work and music technology, and explore music through listening and appraisal. The recently updated syllabus has been devised so that the teaching of music has a clear sense of continuity from Reception through to the end of Year 5. In Years 6, 7 & 8 music and drama are taught to the boys as part of a Performing Arts programme, with all boys rotating in groups across the two subjects in weekly lessons which last an hour and 10 minutes. Performance opportunities follow on from work in class and subject based skills are delivered through various cross curricular projects.

The Music Department comprises eight practice rooms, a sound proofed drum teaching pod, a large class teaching room and a music technology suite with 19 Apple Mac computers.

Concerts and productions are performed either in our 80-seater drama studio, called the Old Barn, or in our Spinney Theatre which seats 200. All boys from Reception through to Year 8 have music timetabled and boys are encouraged to learn an instrument, join one of the numerous music clubs or ensembles that are on offer each week, or sing in a choir.

We have a strong history of boys going on to take up Music Scholarships at Independent Senior Schools and appropriate support is given to potential scholars throughout their time at the school. In the last seven years over 30 scholarship awards have been made in the Performing Arts to boys from The Beacon, an achievement of which we are very proud, with the most recent being a Music Exhibition to Eton College.

Over 300 boys currently receive specialist instrumental and vocal tuition offered by a dedicated team of 25 visiting music teachers. Many of the staff are professional musicians and they provide a high calibre of teaching within the department. Weekly tuition is offered across a full range of instruments and lessons are timetabled on a rota basis.

There are performance opportunities for boys of all ages and standards within a variety of ensembles including Orchestra, Wind Band, Big Band, Fanfare Brass, Junior & Senior Guitar Groups, Rock Band, Beacon Bows and the Beaconetti Strings, and in Pre Prep the youngest boys are offered the opportunity of joining Mini Strings, Brass Monkeys and Toot Club across the school year. Music theory and music technology clubs are also offered.

Choral singing is very strong at The Beacon and there are ‘Beacon Voices’ choirs running in every year group at the school from Years 3 to 8. The Pre-Prep children also have their own singing club called the ‘Little Voices’. The older choirs perform regularly both within school and locally at various charitable concerts and events. The Beacon Voices have a choir tour to Trento in Northern Italy in Autumn 2018, jointly with Godstowe School. In previous years they have undertaken other international tours to Budapest, New York and Venice (twice)  and were very proud to sing for H.M. Queen Elizabeth at the Royal Albert Hall in the 'Festival of Remembrance' (their performance being broadcast worldwide by the BBC).

Click below for Beacon Voices recordings:

Viva La Vida (Upper School Beacon Voices)

Dear Lord and Father of Mankind (Upper School Beacon Voices)

Matilda (Middle School Beacon Voices)

Snipkin (Lower School Beacon Voices)

Ev'ry Time I Feel the Spirit (Vintage Voices)

Boys have the opportunity to take part in a variety of concerts and musical productions across the school year as well as competitions and music festivals outside of school. Productions in recent years have included ‘Oliver’, ‘Lion King Jr’, ‘Pirates of Penzance’ and ‘Peter Pan’, and the school has also taken two sell out musicals to the Edinburgh Festival in 2016 (Into the Woods Jr) and 2018 (Bugsy Malone), both receiving 5 star reviews and high acclaim!

Music at The Beacon is highly valued and it provides pupils with many positive learning skills and attributes. It is a form of communication that can help the boys develop self-esteem and also promotes a strong sense of group identity. They learn to participate and collaborate with others and to work creatively which can lead to a great sense of achievement and self-worth!

Liz Van Tromp
Head of Performing Arts and Director of Music