Music is an integral part of school life, from the moment students join us. It is a hugely popular subject across the Junior and Senior Schools, both during timetabled lessons and as a co-curricular option. Timetabled music lessons are mandatory until Year 9, with all girls given the chance to learn an instrument as part of the curriculum. These instruments are loaned to the girls for free, and range from classic choices like the recorder, clarinet and violin, to the more unusual double bass and ukulele.
With a wide range of co-curricular clubs, every talent, instrument, and musical taste is catered for. Chances to show off musical achievements happen throughout the school year, with highlights including the Christmas Carol Concert at the Old Royal Naval College Chapel, and the annual Senior School musical production.
We have enjoyed success at various musical competitions, including the Beckenham and Bromley Music Festival, and Banardo’s Choir of the Year. As part of the Girls’ Day School Trust, we have the scope to compete and collaborate with other GDST schools; one of our Senior School girls performed a concerto movement with the London Mozart Players (formed through the GDST), and recently our Junior School pupils took part in GDST Sing Juniors 2023.
Music in the Early Years Foundation Stage is focussed on exploration and fostering a positive relationship with sound and singing, with an emphasis on fun! Nursery and Reception both have 60 minutes of specialist teaching with our Head of Junior Music every week. Nursery and Reception take part in musical workshops, and have their own Nativity show every year.
Music is a highly valued subject in the Junior School, with an extensive musical programme that gives everyone the chance to find their inner musician. Every year group receives 60 minutes of music teaching a week with our Head of Junior Music, where singing, composition and music technology are taught. In addition, Years 2-5 receive small group teaching on a chosen instrument – loaned to the girls for free – for a whole term. By the time a pupil leaves the Junior School, they will have covered the basics in four instruments as part of the curriculum!
A team of 16 visiting music teachers are available for one-on-one music lessons (at an additional fee) from Year 1 upwards. The instruments available are: piano, drum kit and tuned percussion, guitar and ukulele, violin, viola, cello, double bass, trumpet, cornet, trombone, tuba, flute, recorder, singing, clarinet, saxophone, harp. Everyone who learns an instrument, inside or outside of school, has the opportunity to take part in Junior School concerts every year.
Co-curricular music is varied, from non-selective choirs and orchestras to invitation-only ensembles. Our Junior Chamber Choir is particularly applauded, having been finalists in the GDST Junior Choir of the Year multiple times.
All Senior School students study Music through to the end of Year 9. During these timetabled lessons a practical-based curriculum is taught, covering singing, keyboard playing, sight reading, and rhythm exercises. A diverse range of music is studied, from classical music through history, to more modern pop music, including female and Black composers.
Every Year 7 gets five free taster lessons on an orchestral instrument of their choice, which is loaned to them free of charge. Many continue taking their lessons after the taster has finished with our team of highly experienced visiting music teachers.
A close-knit group go on to take GCSE Music; including some students who, before attending Blackheath High, had never learned a musical instrument before. The small class size encourages a sense of community, and ensures diligent individual attention to every student.
There is a vast range of musical co-curricular clubs at the Senior School, with every interest and experience level catered for. Every Year 7 student is part of the Year 7 Choir, which culminates in a rousing performance at the annual Christmas Concert held at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich. While the club is no longer mandatory after the Autumn Term, the majority of students continue to take part. This enthusiasm continues on into the later years of the school, shown particularly clear in this year’s Chamber Choir; a non-selective, open-to-all choir for Year 8 and above, which has hit a record number of attendees this school year.
There are also invitation-only clubs, which welcome more experienced musicians and singers. Our pop choir, The Rolling Tones, has even previously gone on to win the GDST Song Contest, with a beautiful arrangement of ‘Chasing Cars’ by Snow Patrol. Other popular clubs include Rock Band, Sinfonia – an invitation-only orchestra – and Music Tech Club, where students can learn digital composing and music production.
The Music Department at Blackheath High Senior School is truly a place for everyone; bringing friends together across different year groups, creating a sense of community and above all, having fun! Everyone who plays an instrument has the opportunity to perform at key points during the school year, developing confidence and encouraging further musical study.
Additionally in the Senior School we have our Music Scholars, who are part of the Girl emPowered Scholarship Programme. These students, who have a particular aptitude for Music, are offered additional experiences during their time as scholars, such as representing the school at performance opportunities, taking leading roles in ensembles, and additional extra-curricular trips.
The Girl emPowered Scholarship Programme is about providing the knowledge and resources that will help them achieve their goals and dreams. There are also academic, Art, Drama, and Sport scholars within the programme.
A select number of students continue studying Music in the Sixth Form, completing their A-level. These students are truly dedicated and often go on to study Music at university – small class sizes ensure a high level of support and individual attention, including with UCAS applications, audition preparation and interview practice.
Sixth Form A-level students also often take a lead in ensembles, as the most experienced musicians in the school. Many students who do not choose to study Music at A-level also continue to play an active role in choirs and orchestras, allowing them to continue their passions and interests without needing to dedicate a curriculum choice. Whilst welcome to join groups that span the age range of the school, there are also opportunities for Sixth Formers to form their own Rock Band, or to set up a music-based society of their choice.
An additional Girl emPowered Music Scholarship is awarded on entry to the Sixth Form; this role is open both to students moving up from the Senior School, and those applying to join us externally.