The Music Department at Colchester Royal Grammar School aims to follow the Every Child Matters agenda in Music.
This means we aim to provide opportunities for every student to “catch the flame” of being excited by wonderful music.

Support for Learning

During 2009 the School received a grant which provided funds to equip the Music Department with seventeen good-quality violins, which are used throughout Year Seven music course. CRGS is one of the relatively few schools in the maintained sector to focus on the learning of stringed instruments. The School’s association for parents and friends, 
CRGSA, provided funds for the purchase of tenor and baritone saxophones which are in regular use by the Big Band and two Saxophone Ensembles.

Specialist Teachers

We are proud to be able to offer our students every possible opportunity for instrumental and vocal learning outside the music curriculum. Lessons are arranged for students through Essex Music Services and with private tutors, taking place throughout the school day in the many teaching rooms in Elyanore House.

The Music Department offers support and encouragement to students attending these lessons and monitors attendance weekly. We aim to make the experience as rewarding as possible for students and to make sure parents receive value for money. Students are expected to play their part by making every effort to keep organised and practise regularly. They are also encouraged to extend their experience by joining one or more of our ensemble groups and taking part in the 
frequent performance opportunities that arise throughout the school year.

Students who wish to learn a large instrument such as the organ or harpsichord are offered the opportunity to book practice time on one of the school instruments.

Music Exams

The school is pleased to act as an examination centre for the Associated Boards of the Royal Schools of Music. The Music Department assists with preparation for these exams, offering students Aural and Theory classes as well as holding “Scales Week” to ensure that our students have the best chance of success and are confident when they come to perform in front of an examiner. Tutors also arrange for students to be entered for Trinity Guildhall and Rock School exams where appropriate.

Music in the Classroom - Key Stage 3

For those students who do not yet take music lessons, music in the classroom is of course vital. 
At Key Stage 3 – Years 7 to 9 – the learning programme follows the National Curriculum, with an emphasis on student-led learning. Mrs Chillingworth, second full-time teacher in the Department, writes about the Key Stage 3 programme:

The Music Department provides a safe learning environment in which students are nurtured or stretched depending on their needs.  Key stage 3 students are offered an extremely rich diet of music which is unlikely to be matched in any other school.

Year 7 students have three lessons a week in which they study African Drumming, violin, singing, keyboard skills, theory and the history of music. A feature of lessons in the autumn term is the Christmas Song Writing Competition, where students can develop their musical theory and computer skills whilst being creative.  Students also learn about composers and instruments whilst listening to and performing music ranging from Bach to Irish folksongs.

In Year 8 students build on theory, computer and instrumental skills to create compositions and performances linked to topics from a wide range of musical history and world music encompassing Plainchant, Pop Songs, Symphonies, Reggae and Film Music.

Year 9 students focus on the development of aural and collaborative skills whilst studying the Blues, Opera and the connections between music and maths. A new feature for the summer term is the introduction of the Musical Futures project which was pioneered with great success in Hertfordshire.

Students can progress to Music GCSE with a thorough knowledge of theory and music appreciation and most importantly a love of the subject.

A-Level Music

Fifteen students are currently studying Music AS level in Year 12, ranging from guitar-and-voice composers to woodwind players, string players, singers, pianists and a percussionist. The course builds on the knowledge and skill-base of GCSE, progressing to more advanced composition, performance, and adding an introduction to historical study, in which three jazz works and three classical movements are studied.

There are eleven students currently studying A2 Music. In recent years students have achieved distinguished results, with some students every year achieving marks of well over 90% for composition and performance. Students from CRGS go on to study music at Oxford, Cambridge, and the leading conservatoires, as well as a wide range of other leading universities. In the last three years two students have secured Oxbridge Organ Scholarships, with a third student also achieving a place to study Music at Cambridge.