Burford Institute of Music
‘I have been thrilled to work with the gifted music students at Burford School. The Music Department is very forward looking and deserves credit and encouragement for its work.’ Michael Bochmann MBE ARAM
The Burford Institute of Music was launched in September 2014 following a request from the County Music Service in Oxfordshire to become a musical hub for the area because of the outstanding music already taking place at the school. Today the Institute shares its expertise and enthusiasm with others across the North Cotswold Area and offers outstanding opportunities for those with an interest in, and a commitment to, music. The Institute, together with the County Music Service provides music lessons for primary students from our Partnership Schools, enabling them to come together each week for shared lessons and to play as an ensemble. In addition we have recently launched a Youth Choir for those in Years 5-8.
As the Institute has grown, students across a range of year groups have had the opportunity, through workshops and masterclasses, to work with major figures in the world of music. Our composition project with Dr John Traill, Musical Director at St Anne’s College Oxford, came to its conclusion at our Spring Concert and saw the Symphony Orchestra premiering the work of the Key Stage 3 composers, under the guidance of Dr Traill.
Key Stage 4 students are now working with musicians from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and scientists from Oxford University. Their work will come to fruition in a performance at the Sheldonian Theatre in the summer.
A strong music department
The school has a large number of students studying music at both GCSE and ‘A’ Level and runs a musical programme throughout the year that showcases its individual performers, ensembles, rock bands and strings groups. Its vocalists perform regularly and put on a full-scale Broadway musical every second year.
The students are regularly invited to perform outside school. Venues this year have included the Tower of London, Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford and a number of private functions
Around a hundred students and ten staff, who themselves play instruments; go on a week’s musical residential to Wales each year where they play, perform, discover and enjoy making music away from the demands and distractions of school and home. This is an opportunity to try out new arrangements, re-interpret familiar pieces and explore different combinations of musicians together.
A unique musical experience
One of the first initiatives of the Burford Institute of Music has been to encourage instrumental learning in the younger members of the community. Since September 2014, and in conjunction with the Oxfordshire Music Service, instrumental lessons have been offered to pupils in the Burford area.
Pupils are collected from their primary schools each week; they have an individual music lesson (or share a music lesson in a small group) and then have the opportunity to play in an ensemble ‘Wrap around’ care is provided by school staff from their arrival at 4.00pm until their individual lesson and the ensemble.
Not only is this exciting but it provides a positive experience of learning an instrument; teaching pupils from an early age the merits of playing in a group and the benefits of persevering when things get tough (as they do from time to time in Music). Those who choose to follow through their secondary education at Burford will enjoy a uniquely special and valuable experience of music throughout their school life.
For those who choose to study music for GCSE and ‘A’ Level, the Burford Institute of Music offers opportunities through a number of pathways. These include:
- Attending a series of regular lectures throughout the year at St Anne’s College, The University of Oxford. Working alongside university students to hear contemporary music performed, explained and discussed.
- Working closely alongside performers of the Lenthall Concerts.
- Attending free entry to all Lenthall Concerts.
- Receiving master-classes from professional musicians.
- Performing with students from the Royal College of Music.
- Attending concerts at the Royal Albert Hall to broaden knowledge and experience.
- Receiving one-to-one teaching for GCSE composition.
- Receiving theory tuition for ABM Grade V theory and above to enable students to take their instrumental playing to the highest level.
In addition students in Years 12 and 13
- are sponsored to be part of the County Ensembles
- receive funding to extend their principal instrumental lessons
As the programme progresses it is expected that more students will take up the opportunities it offers and see it growing from strength to strength.