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Orchestras and Bands

All pupils who play an instrument will be invited to join one of our large ensembles. Membership of ensembles is not restricted by age; rather, selection of the most appropriate ensemble is driven by experience.

Ensemble playing has great benefits for pupils, both socially and musically, and pupils will be encouraged to take part in at least one suitable ensemble.

Benefits of playing in ensembles

All musicians spend many hours practising and taking lessons individually: ensemble playing reinforces technical skills learned in lessons by providing another practical application for them, as well as the opportunity to play alongside more experienced pupils in a community of musicians. This allows pupils to make friends with shared interests, as well as providing opportunities to teach and learn from peers.

Ensemble playing allows pupils to develop team skills, encouraging them to listen and non-verbally communicate to create music together. Skills learnt include balance, intonation, rhythm and performance etiquette, as well as watching a conductor and learning how to respond musically to their gestures.

Ensembles for more experienced musicians

Pupils who play wind, brass or percussion instruments will be invited to join the Concert Band; string players will be invited to join the String Orchestra; singers, guitarists and keyboard players (along with a small selection of wind and strings) will be invited to join the Pop Band.

These ensembles rehearse once each week, and perform regularly in the termly ensembles concert, which usually takes place on the final Monday evening of each term. They are also invited to perform at external events such as the Chipping Norton Music Festival, which takes place during the Lent Term.

Ensembles for beginner instrumentalists

Junior pupils who are not yet sufficiently advanced players to join the Concert Band or Orchestra will instead be invited to join one of the junior ensembles. These are generally suitable for beginners, and are mostly populated with 1st and 2nd Form pupils who are learning an instrument via the school’s instrumental scheme, although they are open to any pupil in 1st - 3rd Form.

Junior pupils who are learning string instruments will be invited to join the String Ensemble. It is generally possible for string players to join almost immediately, as the arrangements used include a variety of parts, including some which use open strings only, allowing pupils to join as soon as they know how to hold a bow.

Junior pupils who are learning wind, brass or percussion instruments will be invited to join the Wind Band. It generally takes a few weeks longer for beginner players to join the Wind Band, as they will need to be confident producing a sound and know how to play a handful of notes before they will be able to access the simpler parts.

Both ensembles are intended as training ensembles for the String Orchestra and Concert Band respectively. Once pupils have developed their musicianship and playing ability they will be invited to move up to one of those ensembles at an appropriate time.

Commitments

The weekly commitment for pupils will depend on the ensembles in which they play; however, once a pupil has joined an ensemble they will be expected to honour that commitment for the rest of that term (or until the final performance of that term) after which membership may be reviewed.

Concert Band & String Orchestra:

  • Rehearsal takes place every Friday lunchtime from 1.15pm - 2.00pm
  • Pupils eat an early lunch at 12.55pm, and are registered at the end of the rehearsal

Pop Band

  • Rehearsal takes place every Friday lunchtime from 1.15pm - 2.00pm
  • Pupils eat an early lunch at 12.55pm, and are registered at the end of the rehearsal

Junior Ensembles

  • Rehearsal takes place every Wednesday lunchtime from 1.15pm - 2.00pm
  • Pupils eat an early lunch at 12.55pm, and are registered at the end of the rehearsal