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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 want to start music lessons in a specific instrument, please complete FORM A.
  • If your child would be 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 me via t.parrans-smith@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
Bass Guitar Clarinet Trombone      
Acoustic Guitar Flute Euphonium      
Viola Bassoon French Horn      
Cello Oboe Tuba      

 

 

 

 

 

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 grades 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 Director of Music, 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 Director of Music. 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 Director of Music 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

Aston Choir

Anyone

 

Chamber Choir

By audition

Bands

Training Band

Any instrument Beginner to Grade 2

Concert Orchestra

Any Instrument Grade 3+

Big Band

Trumpets/Trombones/Saxes/Bass/Drums/Piano

Grade 5+

String Orchestra

All strings Grade 2+

Smaller Groups

Mixed Sax Ensemble

Grades 1+

Clarinet Group

Anyone

Flute Group

Anyone

Lower Brass Group

Anyone

Trumpet Ensemble

Anyone

Senior Brass Ensemble

By invitation

Percussion Ensemble

Anyone

Senior Guitar Group

Grade 3+

Junior Guitar Group

Beginner to Grade 2

Jazz Improv Group

Invitation Only

Music Theory

By arrangement with Mrs Parrans-Smith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 orlunch 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 Director of Music  if they wish to practice inside school hours.

Communication

Should you have any questions or wish to raise any concerns, please do contact me, the Director of Music at any time on t.parrans-smith@keaston.bham.sch.uk.

If you would like to contact your instrumental teacher directly you may do so. However if they are only teaching in school one day a week there might be a small delay in their reply to you, so please be patient or contact myself, the Director of Music if your enquiry is urgent. 

Visiting Music teacher addresses are all @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 well be a waiting list for lessons. Once the form has been received, the Director of Music 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
  • the time will be communicated to the student each week in advance of their next lesson

Should the pupil be confused about the timing of their lessons, there are a great many people who can help. They can see or contact their instrumental teacher, and any member of the music staff. Pupils must notify the teacher of the school subject lesson they will be missing 24 hours in advance by obtaining a green slip from the music office and handing it to the relevant subject teacher.

Absence

If a pupil misses a lesson, they will be contacted by the Director of Music in order to explain why. Should illegitimate absence be persistent, the Director of Music 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 Director of Music. 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 Director of Music 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 so 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 If you think it will be difficult please contact the Headmaster as soon as possible, ideally by e-mail to c.parker@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: £120

A2) thirty, twenty-minute, lessons: £360

B1) ten, thirty-minute, lessons: £180

B2) thirty, thirty-minute, lessons: £540

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 music tuition pupils will 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  A-Level performance examinations.