Beyond the Classroom
Our vision is for music-making to be something that inspires and delights pupils in equal measure. We aim to be a school where music really is for all. While any pupil can benefit from the Perse musical experience regardless of their ability, we also want our most excellent musicians, including our numerous scholars (many of whom are members of national ensembles), to be constantly challenged and motivated by working at the highest level.
The Director of Music, Ben Wingfield, leads a highly experienced team of four classroom teachers and 30 peripatetic staff with instrumental specialisms. Together they deliver a busy programme of individual instrumental tuition, rehearsals, concerts, events and masterclasses.
If your child has a special interest in music that you would like to discuss or share with us, please get in touch with the Director of Music, either by email or by telephone (01223 403831) before putting in your application to the School.
We offer a comprehensive programme of instrumental and vocal tuition in a suite of purpose-built, sound-proofed rooms. Our team of highly skilled peripatetic staff, many of whom lead high-profile concert careers, visits the school and teach around 550 music lessons each week.
Tuition is available for all orchestral and band instruments, as well as for singing, organ, jazz improvisation, music technology and music theory.
We are a major centre for termly ABRSM and Trinity Guildhall exams, and offer aural and theory training.
A varied programme of around 65 ensembles takes place on a weekly basis. Our largest groups include two full symphony orchestras, four string orchestras, three wind bands, three jazz bands, three percussion ensembles and two big bands. We have a strong choral emphasis with seven choirs, ranging from classical choruses to a cappella groups, available to Perse pupils.
Our comprehensive programme extends to chamber group tuition. Smaller groups include string quartets, piano-based groups, woodwind choirs, brass bands and a classical guitar ensemble. The school has a long association with the yearly Pro Corda chamber music competition, and many of our most talented chamber musicians are regularly invited to participate in the national final.
Pupils are actively encouraged to set up their own groups and bands, and many do. Music staff are very happy to support these initiatives.
Performances, events and masterclasses
Around 70 events take place in a typical Perse year, ranging from informal sign-up concerts to high-profile and large-scale instrumental and choral showcase events. Highlights include the annual Perse Musician of the Year competition, featuring some of the very best talent pupil musicians have to offer. Students also enjoy the ever-popular charity cabaret, which features solo and band performances of pop, jazz and musical theatre repertoire.
While most concerts take place within the school, including regular performances in the state-of-the-art Peter Hall Performing Arts Centre, we have a number of exciting external opportunities throughout the year too. Recent performances have taken place in awe-inspiring venues such as King’s and St John’s College Chapels, Saffron Hall, Westminster Abbey and Ely Cathedral.
We regularly invite a number of internationally-renowned professional musicians each year to give masterclasses and performances to our pupils. In recent years, we have been pleased to invite names including Peter Donohoe CBE, Roderick Williams OBE, Joan Rodgers CBE, Joseph Middleton, The Doric Quartet, members of the Academy of Ancient Music, and The Swingle Singers.
You can follow our music department via our twitter feed @PerseMusicDept
You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel The Perse Upper School Music Department.
Take a look below at Perse Musician of the Year 2020 Winner, Juliette Richards performing on the piano.