There is a strong and well-established tradition of music making at The New Beacon. The philosophy of our music education is to develop a love and joy of music and a confidence to explore and develop each individual musical talent.
The Music Department is extremely fortunate to be housed in a purpose-built Music and Art Centre with two main rooms used for class music teaching, choir rehearsals and larger instrumental ensemble rehearsals together with four smaller teaching rooms, which are used for individual music lessons and to rehearse small ensembles like string quartets, woodwind quintets and percussion groups. Use is also made of The Media Suite in The New Beacon Centre for composition based activities using Apple macs.
The singing-based Class Music aims to encourage and inspire a boy’s enjoyment of music. Through singing, boys are able to develop a secure set of musicianship skills which prepares them for learning an instrument. Music notation is introduced in Reception and by Year 2 boys are able to read notes from the stave in the treble clef.
All boys learn to play the recorder during class music lessons in Years 3 and 4.
In the Middle and Senior School boys continue to develop their musicianship skills through solo and group work. From Year 5, boys use the Sibelius music software program to compose their own music. In Year 6, boys learn to play the ukulele. The Senior School boys are using Garageband to compose and create film sound tracks in The Media Suite in The New Beacon Centre.
We have a strong tradition of singing at The New Beacon. All boys in Year 4 are encouraged to be members of the Year 4 Choir. All Years 5 and 6 boys are encouraged to audition to be members of the Middle School Choir. The Chapel Choir is for boys in Years 7 and 8 and we also run a Parent Choir, which regularly joins the boys at services.
The opportunity to sing abroad, most recently Venice, Rome and Dubrovnik, is an experience to be enjoyed by a Chapel Choir member on one of the fantastic tours organised bi-annually.
During their time at the school, approximately 75% of the boys learn a musical instrument with one of the peripatetic music teachers. Some study two or even three instruments. Lessons are offered on all woodwind, brass, string and percussion instruments, as well as piano, organ and singing.
Theory classes are held for boys wishing to take Associated Board Grade 5 Theory. Associated music exams are held for instrumentalists and singers in a one, two or three day session at school each term. Approximately 190 Associated Board music exams are taken by boys annually, with impressive results. Aural classes are held to prepare boys for this aspect of the Associated Board music exams.
Boys having individual instrumental lessons may join one of the instrumental groups which are offered: in the Junior School: Year 4 Orchestra, Beginner Strings, Junior Strings and Brass group; in the Middle School: Second Orchestra, String Training Orchestra, Middle School Brass Group, and Concert Band; in the Senior School: First Orchestra, Senior Strings, Big Band, Senior Brass Group, String Quartets, Woodwind Ensemble and Concert Band. There are also Guitar Ensembles for Junior, Middle and Senior School boys, and a Percussion Ensemble for Middle and Senior School boys.
All Middle and Senior school boys are invited to Composition Club, and there is a Barbershop Group for Year 8 boys.
The highlights of a New Beacon boy’s musical experiences may be found by playing in the Big Band, a String Quartet or playing in the band for the Year 8 Leavers’ Play.
Very talented young musicians are encouraged to consider applying for a music scholarship either at Year 6 or Year 8, as they progress on to their next school. There is a high level of success at The New Beacon.
In recent years, Music Scholarships and Exhibitions have been won to Eton College, Sevenoaks School, Tonbridge School, Charterhouse and the King’s School, Rochester.
Boys from Reception through to Year 8, have numerous opportunities to perform. Every year group has Harvest services in St George’s Chapel; Pre prep boys present nativities in the Theatre at Christmas; Years 3 and 4 have their own Carol services in St George’s Chapel; Middle and Senior School boys all participate in a Carol Service at Tonbridge Chapel. There are also regular Middle and Senior School chapel services each term. Years 4, 6 and 8 perform musicals in the theatre; Year 5 performs a Music Evening in The New Beacon Centre. Pre prep and Junior School boys do a May Concert, in The New Beacon Centre and the majority of Years 4 to 8 celebrate instrumental music making and singing at a large concert in the summer term in The New Beacon Centre.