Music is central to the life of Surbiton High School. Surbiton pupils perform music at over 60 school events each academic year and on many other informal occasions. From the Choral, Orchestral and Ensembles Concerts involving hundreds of performers to the House Choral, Instrumental and Singing Festivals; from the annual musical production at Kingston’s Rose Theatre to performances in the cathedrals of Paris and Salzburg; from the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols involving a congregation of over 1,000 to weekly lunchtime recitals and soloist evenings,there is a music-making opportunity for every pupil at Surbiton High School, an opportunity which each pupil is encouraged to take.
With more than 30 staff and over 400 music lessons taught each week, the Music Department is among the largest in the School. All pupils in Years 7, 8 and 9 receive a weekly, hour-long lesson in which they listen critically to all genres of music, perform on keyboards and classroom percussion and compose using Sibelius and Mixcraft software in the department’s ICT suite. Pupils are encouraged to continue to study GCSE Music in Years 10 and 11 and A-level Music in Years 12 and 13, following the Edexcel specifications. Whilst many pupils engage with music through curricular lessons, still more participate in co-curricular activities which, for many pupils, form their most important musical experiences. Individual music lessons are offered in all instruments: from flute to double bass, from singing to drum kit. Learning to play a musical instrument at School involves a 30-minute lesson each week, the time of which is rotated through the school day. All pupils who play a musical instrument or who sing also participate in at least one of the School’s many musical ensembles. There is a musical group to suit every ability level and interest, from the School’s Senior Chamber Choir and Orchestra to Saxobeats and African Drumming.
Music has taken Surbiton High School pupils all over the city and the continent. Pupils have recently performed concerts, recitals and choral services in Paris at La Madeleine and Disneyland; at the cathedrals of Notre Dame, Salzburg and Southwark; at Westminster Central Hall, the Steinway Hall and the King's Centre; at local churches, including St. Andrew’s, St. Mark’s, St. John’s and All Saints, and at the Surbiton Assembly Rooms, in which the Music Department is situated. Recent performances have included Handel’s Coronation Anthems, Faure's Requiem and Schubert's Mass in G with a choir and orchestra of over 150 pupils. The School’s annual musical production at the Rose Theatre, Kingston is a highlight of the calendar, with recent productions including Oliver!, Beauty and the Beast, We Will Rock You and Bugsy Malone. The choirs play a central part in the School’s annual celebrations, which include the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols and Founders’ Day. Led by Sixth Form students, all 450 Year 7, 8 and 9 pupils participate in the annual House Choral Competition as members of their House choir, alongside the House chamber choirs formed by pupils in Year 9 and above.
In addition to the many opportunities for pupils to perform as members of ensembles and choirs, there are also many events for solo performers. These range from the formal, including half-termly soloist evenings, to the more informal, including weekly lunchtime recitals. At the annual instrumental and singing festivals, pupils compete over four evenings, performing to a variety of external adjudicators. These performances are excellent preparation for the many pupils who choose to take Associated Board and Trinity Guildhall music exams, for which the School is an examination centre, holding practical music exams once every term.
Many of Surbiton High School’s outstanding musicians pursue music at a high level outside School as members of groups which include the National Youth Wind Orchestra, the National Children’s Orchestra, the National Youth Choir, Junior Guildhall, Stoneleigh Youth Orchestra, Surrey Youth Orchestra, Richmond Youth Orchestra and Thames Youth Choir. Music scholarships up to the value of 50 per cent remission of fees are offered to talented musicians in Year 7 and in the Sixth Form. Please contact the admissions office for details of the application process and the Director of Music to discuss music scholarships further. The School also offers a music exhibition scheme, encouraging pupils in Year 7 to take up an orchestral instrument which they do not already play. The selected pupils are offered the loan of an instrument and individual music lessons free of charge for the duration of their school career. Please contact the Head of Instrumental Music for more details.