London is one of the most exciting cities for a junior musician. There are a whole host of musical opportunities available, mostly on the weekends, for young musicians to further enhance their music learning.
On our doorstep, we have some amazing local music schools run on weekends and after-school:
Borough Music School
The Borough Music School is a charity set up to enable children and young people in Southwark tolearn an instrument and general musicianship at a price affordable for any local family. Individual and group lessons take place on Saturday mornings and Monday afternoons with thrice yearly concerts giving all pupils the opportunity to show off their skills and increase their confidence.
Parents are encouraged to take an active role in the activities of the school and often sit on the voluntary committee that oversees the work. Older children often support younger ones in their lessons by taking on the role of teaching support assistant.
Without Borough Music School, many children in the borough would never have the opportunity to discover their musical talents; a great resource for all involved.
The music school is based at Snowsfields Primary School, Kirby Grove, London, SE1 3TD. They offer heavily subsidised lessons to local children in the following subjects:
Entry is currently subject to a waiting list and your child will be invited to audition before the offer of a place is made.
STAX Saturday Centre
STAX is one of two Saturday Centres which are are open on Saturday mornings during term time for children in school Years 3 to 6. Everyone who joins learns one or more instruments, plays in groups and bands, and develops all round skills as a musician. The centres offer instruments on loan for free.
Southwark STAX takes place at St Thomas the Apostle College in Holllydale Rd, SE15 2EB. Southwark BLUE NOTE which is held at Surrey Square Infants School,
Surrey Square, SE17 2JY. The centres run from 9.25am until 12.30pm for 30 Saturdays of the year, during term time. Children who attend must also be pupils at schools in the borough of Southwark.
The centres are affiliated to the Centre for Young Musicians (CYM) based at Morley College, which plays a key role in music education throughout London.
Centre for Young Musicians
Since its founding in 1970, London’s Centre for Young Musicians has provided high quality music training for thousands of talented students.
Around 450 pupils attend Morley College between 9am and 5pm on term time Saturdays. Each student at the Main Centre has a personalised timetable that includes individual lessons, choir, ensembles and general musicianship, taught by a team of leading professional musicians.
The majority of pupils are eligible for LEA funding, subject to availability and dependent on which borough you reside in. In the case of financial hardship, judged by evidence of main state benefit, low income or other special factors, bursary funding may be available, provided by the Centre’s supporting Foundation for Young Musicians.
The Main Centre is open to all children who already play an instrument and are attending school or are in a gap year. Students are offered places at CYM after a successful audition. There is no minimum standard – we will audition pupils at all stages of learning other than absolute beginners. Heads of Department are looking for musical potential and take into account the age, experience and prior access to musical education of the applicant.
Dulwich Suzuki Group
A violin group based at Ivydale school that teaches the Suzuki Method, a special method specific to music education for very young children. All children receive individual and group lessons. Parents are actively involved in the learning process, they attend all lessons, take notes and practise with their child. The group organise regular student concerts.
Tips for the audition:
Even if you have not started learning an instrument, it doesn’t hurt to have done some background research beforehand. Places are competitive for all of the music schools listed above, so a student demonstrating an understanding of the working of the instrument that they would like to learn will have an advantage over the student that has just been presented to learn an instrument but doesn’t have any real desire to do so. Questions that often arise at the initial interview for beginners are:
- Is your instrument a woodwind/string/brass/percussion etc?
- If you are playing a stringed instrument, do you know how many strings it has? I was asked this question at an interview when I was about 5 years old and rather shamefully answered 5 for a violin (it has 4!)
- For slightly older students, knowing the letter names of the strings would be impressive!
If you already have some working knowledge of your instrument, then be prepared for a more in-depth interview and prepare some answers to questions such as these:
- Who are your favourite composers? Make sure you are able to name a piece of music of theirs that you like and have listened to in advance. Try and discuss why you like this piece of music. It might be because of the character of the piece, or because you heard somebody perform it once and it instantly appealed to you.
- What is your favourite genre of classical music?
Make sure you can answer ‘YES’ to most of these questions!
- Have you been to any live performances of music? Which are your favourite performers, venues etc?
- Have you ever performed with an ensemble/orchestra/group?
- Can you play any other styles of music: Jazz/Pop etc?
- Have you played in any festivals/won any competitions?