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Instrumental lessons

The Music Department at Aston aims to offer as wide a variety of music lessons and ensembles as possible, in order to encourage every pupil to find and nurture their musical talent. We currently teach over two hundred instrumental lessons per week, and offer lessons in a variety of different instruments. Trials are available on any instrument at any point during the year and lessons are also available any time during the school year.

  • If your child wants to start music lessons in a specific instrument, please complete FORM A.
  • If your child is interested in trying out a musical instrument or two through a trial lesson, please complete FORM B.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to be in touch with the department via music@keaston.bham.sch.uk

On which instruments do we offer lessons?

Strings Wind Brass Keyboard Percussion Voice
Violin Saxophone Trumpet Piano Drum Kit Singing Lessons
Viola Clarinet Trombone Keyboard    
Cello Flute Euphonium      
Acoustic Guitar Bassoon Tuba      
Electric Guitar Oboe French Horn      
Bass Guitar          

 

 

 

 

 

How should I choose an instrument?

If you are keen to take up an instrument but not sure which one, perhaps have a look at the list of ensembles that take place at Aston and see if there are any you aspire to be a part of. You can then choose an instrument to enable you to do this.

We are able to arrange trial lessons for any of the above instruments before you commit to lessons. Learning any kind of instrument has huge benefits, especially when applying to university and providing information for a UCAS application. You can gain extra UCAS points for Grade 6 and above, with the points equating up to the value of an AS Level.

What instruments and equipment are available?

Most pupils tend to acquire their own instruments, however there are a small amount of school violins, saxophones, cellos, clarinets, bassoons, flutes, trumpets and trombones, given out on a first come, first served basis. Please note that we do not have any guitars, bass guitars, pianos or drums available for loan. The cost of replacement or any insurance excess and/or the cost of repairing any damage will, if deemed appropriate by the school, be charged to parents. Strings, reeds, any other accessories and music will also be provided by parents. If a pupil brings their own instrument to school, it must be insured privately and the school will not be responsible for any loss or damage. Please speak to your teacher regarding recommendations for insuring your instrument.

Do I need to own an instrument, or can I borrow one from school?

We have several options regarding instruments if you do not already own one:

Borrow from school: we have a number of used instruments to hire through school at £50 per year. This is a temporary agreement for two years unless otherwise agreed with the school. However, instruments are limited in number and given out on a first come, first served basis.

Rent from a music shop: you can rent a brand new instrument, with all accessories needed from most music shops for a monthly cost. You get the option to return the instrument after three months if you are unhappy,  but if you are happy with the instrument, you can keep it at the end of the rental period. We recommend the Windblowers music shop in Nottingham.

Purchase new: this is the most popular option as purchasing an instrument brand new through school means you get a reduction in price as the instrument is VAT-free. Please speak to the school to purchase your instrument VAT-free.

Can I learn more than one instrument?

Yes, and lots of pupils do!

What can I play in?

 

Ensemble

Who Can Join

Choirs

Junior Choir

Key Stage 3

Senior Choir

Key Stage 4 & 5, year 9 by invitation

Ensembles

School Orchestra

Grade 3+

Training Orchestra

Beginner to Grade 2

Jazz Ensemble

Trumpet, Trombone, Sax, Bass Guitar

Drum-kit & Piano by invitation

Elastic Band

Key Stage 3 all instruments/singers

Percussion Ensemble

Any Level

String Ensemble

Grade 2+

Trumpet Ensemble

Any Level

Brass Group

By invitation

Senior Guitar Ensemble

Grade 3+

Electric Guitar Ensemble

Any Level

Cello Ensemble

Any Level

Enrichment

Theory Club Beginner - Grade 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How does the lesson timetable work?

Those in years 7  – 11 have lessons during the school day. This is on a rotation, meaning the same subject lesson is not missed more than twice per term. Those in years 12 – 13 have their lessons outside of academic commitments. If you learn more than one instrument in school, one of your lessons will be placed during break or lunch or before school so as not to miss any more academic lessons than necessary.

Do I have to do music exams?

There is no obligation, but often pupils find these a good way to focus their learning. It is entirely up to you, in consultation with your teacher.

How often should I practise?

As much as possible! It’s always best to practise for short periods regularly, rather than one long session a week. To make sufficient progress to pass instrumental music exams it is advisable to practice four times each week for 15 – 20 min per session. If you are studying for a higher grade exam this would require far longer practice sessions. The music department is open throughout the school day, and pupils can book a practice room with the mucic department if they wish to practice inside school hours.

Communication

Should you have any questions or wish to raise any concerns, please contact s.mackereth@keaston.bham.sch.uk

Signing up for music lessons

Please complete the online Music Lesson Request form. In the case of some instruments, there may be a waiting list for lessons. Once the form has been received, the school will be in touch with further details (e.g. teacher, lesson time, room etc.).

Lessons and timetabling

We offer one-to-one tuition for either twenty or thirty minutes per week with one of our skilled and professional specialist teachers. Pupils receive thirty lessons per year in total.  The flexibility of the timetable depends on the individual teacher; some are here two days per week, others perhaps just one day. We endeavour to work around the pupil’s other commitments as far as we are able.

Pupils can find the times of their lessons in two ways:

  • Timetables are displayed on a notice board in the department
  • Timetables will be communicated to students via email.

Should the pupil be confused about the timing of their lessons, they can contact their instrumental teacher or any member of the music department. 

Absence

If a pupil misses a lesson, they will be contacted by their teacher in order to explain why. Should illegitimate absence be persistent, the school may write to parents in order to terminate the lessons. In the case of legitimate absences (e.g. illness), instrumental teachers will endeavour to re-timetable lessons where possible, however this may not always be possible.

Termination of lessons

Lessons may be terminated by parents, by writing to or emailing the school. At least half a term’s notice must be given so that teachers’ and room timetables can be adjusted accordingly. Music fees will continue to be charged for at least half a term after notice is given  i.e. if notice is given before half-term then fees will be charged to the end of that term; if notice is given after half-term, then fees will be charged to half-term of the following term. If notice is given during a holiday period, fees will be charged until the next half-term/end of term. Please note that once started lessons will continue each year until notice is given. Lessons may also be terminated by the school at any time if a pupil ceases to show aptitude or application, evidence of which is given in written reports.

Reports from instrumental music teachers

Parents and guardians will receive a full report on their child’s progress in instrumental lessons at the end of each term. Please e-mail the relevant teacher should you wish to make contact between these reporting times.

Music exams

The school holds music exams (ABRSM) every spring term. There is no compulsion for any pupil to take music exams – many pupils prefer to progress without jumping these hurdles – but for many they can provide a useful motivational goal.

Should the teacher and pupil feel that the time is right to sit an exam, the pupil will receive a letter to take home. Parents are required to pay for all music examinations except those in receipt of Pupil Premium or Albion Trust.

Performance opportunities

We aim to offer all of our pupils a range  of performance opportunities, from informal concerts to larger evening events. Our ensembles perform regularly, both in school and at external events, including foreign tours.

Paying for lessons

If you are in receipt of Pupil Premium, this fund can be used to purchase instrumental lessons in full or part. Financial support is also available for those wishing to take lessons and not eligible for pupil premium funding, but might struggle to pay the full amount. It is our desire at Aston for anyone wishing to play a musical instrument to be able to do so. School is very concerned not to deter any pupil from learning how to play a musical instrument, therefore for financial assistance please contact the Headmaster as soon as possible, ideally by e-mail to m.brady@keaston.bham.sch.uk or by letter.

If your son receives support from the Albion Trust, you should write to Mrs Leah (Student Services & Support) explaining that you would like the Fund to support his exam. Mrs Leah will confirm in writing if, in this instance, support from the Trust will be available.

Music Fees

Tuition fees are for a minimum of ten lessons per term or thirty lessons over the academic year.  The following options  are available:

A1: ten, twenty-minute lessons: £126

A2: thirty, twenty-minute lessons: £378

B1: ten, thirty-minute lessons: £189

B2: thirty, thirty-minute lessons: £567

GCSE and A Level students are offered a discount of 33% on tuition fees. You can either pay for twenty-minute lessons and receive thirty-minute lessons or pay for thirty-minute lessons but receive forty-five minutes.In addition to this if a student has previously received any kind of funding in Key Stage 3 they will have the cost of tuition covered fully by the school.

Pupils also receive the following free of charge:

  • Free ensemble and orchestra rehearsal time with the appropriate music tutor for at least thirty minutes each week for each ensemble and orchestra that the student performs with.
  • Free piano accompaniment by a music tutor for all grade exams, GCSE and A-Level performance examinations.