The Music Academy

The SWCHS Music Academy provides outstanding opportunities and a musical education for students at SWCHS. It is an exciting programme of enrichment carefully coordinated by Miss C Law (the Director of Music) and Mr E Reed (teacher of Music and Music Technology) - working closely with the Saffron Hall Learning and Participation team.

Saffron Hall is not only one of the best concert venues in the country, boasting a programme to rival any, but it also has a keen interest in supporting and promoting music education. These strengths combine to provide opportunities and facilities for young musicians studying at SWCHS that are unrivalled in Eastern England, meaning that our Post-16 Music Academy now attracts some of the best student musicians from a wide geographical area. Academicians are welcomed to both a regional centre of excellence for music education and a school that sets the highest of academic standards.

While most applicants will naturally want to follow the A-Level Music route, this is not a prerequisite, as we recognise that at this stage, some talented musicians prefer to further develop their musical skills and experience, while studying for a career in another discipline.

How is the programme delivered?

The Music Academy is made up of two groups, with a focus on transition. The Young Academicians are a cohort of students selected from Key Stages Three and Four. They are invited to enrichment opportunities including workshops, ensemble masterclasses and professional concerts at Saffron Hall. The main Sixth Form Music Academy receive a weekly timetabled session alongside the Academy programme of enrichment and their academic studies. The Academy programme is annually tailored to specific needs each year, but normally covers all instruments and voices in both classical and more popular idioms. All members of the Sixth Form Music Academy will receive a personalised programme of masterclasses for their instrument as well as optional extra masterclasses on areas such as conducting, composing, chamber music, song-writing and accompanying. These masterclasses will inspire as well as develop the Academy students’ skills. Members of the Academy are also able to access a range of other opportunities such as a free ticket for each Saffron Hall concert, opportunities to meet and play alongside Guildhall School of Music and Drama students, side by side experiences with national orchestras and community outreach leadership projects. Academicians have taken part in exciting outreach projects in other local schools, where they worked alongside professional performers and composers. We also have strong links with NYO, the NYC and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama - not least through the Saturday morning ‘Saffron Centre for Young Musicians’ where many SWCHS Music students study their private instrumental and vocal studies. SCYM on Saturdays takes place on the school site. Academy students have the opportunity to make music regularly in a world-class performance venue, by joining the most senior of our many ensembles and making a sustained commitment to these. Typically, these are the Senior Jazz Band, Senior Concert Band, Chamber Choir, Senior String Orchestra and Symphony Orchestra. A number of these ensembles tour to Europe each summer and Academy conductors are a regular occurrence. All Academy students are able to promote their own recitals in either the main hall, the local church or as part of our lunchtime series in the Foyer.

SWCHS has a team of highly qualified instrumental and vocal teachers and, whilst Academy students are free to continue arrangements with an existing teacher, we ensure that those wishing to have their lessons at SWCHS or at SCYM receive excellent tuition. All instrumental and vocal staff will prepare students for ABRSM examinations as required; these take place in school every term. Each Academy student will have a review at the end of term 1, Year 13.

Admission criteria for SWCHS Post-16 Music Academy

In addition to the standard academic entry requirements for SWCHS, applicants must have achieved at least Grade 6 at merit or above on any instrument or voice, and must also have passed Grade 5 theory. Applicants will be required to perform as part of the interview process.

What is expected from Academy students?

  • Be a regular member of one or more Senior Ensembles
  • Sing in SWCHS Voices
  • Agree and adhere to a programme of enrichment on top of their regular studies
  • Participate in the Masterclass programme as appropriate
  • Take part in concerts, recitals and festivals as appropriate
  • Make a sustained contribution to the wider SWCHS musical community
  • Generally seek to maximise the opportunities offered by the Saffron Hall programme and the hall itself