The Perse School


The sound of school life

Our aim

We want music to delight and inspire our students in equal measure. Our aim is for any student to be able to benefit from making music, regardless of his or her ability – our ‘music for all’ philosophy. At the same time, we ensure our most able students (we have around 50 music scholars in The Perse and several students who are members of the National Youth Choir or Orchestra) are constantly challenged and motivated by working at the highest level.

The Music Department is brimming with musical energy and enthusiasm; it is led by Director of Music Michael Holiday, supported by an experienced and passionate team of Heads of Curricular and Extra-Curricular Music, a classroom teacher and more than twenty peripatetic staff with instrumental specialisms. Together they deliver around 550 individual lessons each week.

If a 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.  For information about our music scholarships please see here.

Instrumental tuition

Since the opening of our music school in 2003 and its extension in September 2010, we have gradually expanded our instrumental tuition programme to the point that we now deliver around 550 individual lessons per week. We offer tuition in piano, organ, singing and orchestral and band instruments.

We are a centre for Associated Board music exams. We offer classes in Grade 5 theory and advanced aural tests (Grades 5-8), to help pupils preparing for exams. Individual lessons operate on a rotational basis for pupils in Years 7 to 11; sixth form students normally have their instrumental lesson fixed into a free period.

Instrumental tuition within school offers the following advantages:

  • High-quality tuition from experienced teachers with a proven track record in individual and ensemble coaching. Many of our peripatetic staff also enjoy a distinguished performing career
  • Tuition within our purpose-built suite of rooms providing a comfortable learning environment
  • If your son/daughter takes part in a group coached by his/her teacher, it means that his/her overall musical development is being closely monitored by an experienced professional within the School
  • Direct encouragement to take part in our wide-ranging programme of concerts, including informal tea-time and lunchtime recitals (although all pupils are of course welcome to nominate themselves for these opportunities
  • Close monitoring of issues such as attendance and progress within lessons by the Director of Music, using our computer tracking system
  • Regular reports provided by the instrumental staff which aim to both encourage your son or daughter and offer advice to help them make progress
  • The convenience of music lessons without the need to travel extensively in the evenings or at weekends

We hope that you will be equally enthusiastic about our instrumental tuition and we welcome the opportunity to discuss your child’s requirements by email or telephone 01223 403831.

Groups and ensembles

We are proud of our Associate Performer Scheme where international soloists visit the School to give masterclasses and workshops to our musicians. Visitors have included Natalie Clein (cello), the Doric String Quartet, Charles Mutter (violin), Martin Roscoe (piano), Jeff Rich (former drummer for Status Quo), and Mark Bassey (trombone).

We continue to develop our link with the Academy of Ancient Music, which enables pupils to benefit from heavily-discounted tickets to local events and masterclass coaching from world-class performers.

A wide and varied programme of more than 70 groups and ensembles is on offer throughout the week. The key ensembles and choirs are listed below; there are also many jazz, pop, rock and classical chamber groups.

Group Grade
Intermediate Strings 2-4
Perse Strings 5-8
Perse Soloists (strings) 8+
Wind Band 3 1-3
Wind Band 2 3-6
Wind Band 1 6+
Perse Sinfonietta 3-7
Perse Symphony Orchestra 7+
Swing Band (Years 7 to 10) Audition
Big Band (Years 10 to Upper Sixth) Audition


Choir Years Voices
Perse Voices 7 to 9  SSA
Changing Voices 7 to 9 ATBarB
Concert Voices 7 to 9 SSA (audition)
Senior Chorale 10 to U6 SATB
Perse Chamber Choir 10 to U6 SATB (audition)
Acappelicans 9 to U6 SATB (audition)


Performances, competitions and trips

In a typical year there will be around 50-60 separate performance opportunities for pupils; we aim for all groups to have regular performing opportunities throughout the year in a busy programme of both external and internal, formal and informal events.

Internal opportunities include regular informal ‘turn-up-and-play’ concerts, formal ensemble concerts, school-wide competitions (including the annual house song, harmony and band competitions) and student-initiated activities.

We have a number of exciting external opportunities throughout the year; these have included performances at King’s College Chapel, the University’s West Road Concert Hall and St John’s College Chapel. Further afield, our choirs, chamber ensembles and orchestras have performed in prestigious venues such as St John’s, Smith Square in London, Norwich Cathedral and the Apex in Bury St. Edmunds. Popular and jazz music is also central to what we do, and the Charity Cabaret is a particular highlight of the year.



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