Music plays a central role in the life of Latymer and there is a well-established tradition of music-making at the heart of the school. Many pupils are attracted to the school, not just because of its academic excellence, but also because of the considerable opportunities that exist in the arts, both in the curriculum and in ‘extra-curricular’ activities. Central to the work of everyone in the Music Department is a desire to encourage pupils to give their very best at whatever level they can achieve and to offer opportunities to develop key skills, including teamwork and organisation, and the desire to engage in a rewarding and social activity. The result is an enormous number of pupils involved in musical activities of one kind or another and of a very high quality, culminating in the almost professional standards of some of the most able pupils, including concerto opportunities for some Year 13 students.
We aim, through music, to promote key skills that will contribute to the balanced development of all our pupils, including dedication, commitment, listening skills, organisation, persistence, resilience, and teamwork. Music can provide opportunities to develop and utilise all these, and they are traits that are evident in so many of our musicians here at Latymer.
We have three full-time music teachers and a team of nearly 30 part-time instrumental and singing teachers, including Heads of Strings, Woodwind and Brass, providing a wealth of expertise and experience. A handful of biographies can be found here. Over 400 instrumental and singing lessons take place every week, reflecting high levels of participation, from beginner to post-Grade 8; these lessons are co-ordinated by our Music Adminstrator.
Collaboration with the Drama Department takes place on a regular basis, including Senior and Junior Musical Productions – most recently, Kiss Me Kate, Fiddler on the Roof, Hairspray and The Wizard of Oz.
The music department is housed in the Mills Building, which opened in 2000. It includes three well-equipped music classrooms, each with a piano, interactive whiteboard, i-Mac, hi-fi, digital visualiser, keyboards and a range of percussion instruments. One of the classrooms has an Apple suite of 16 i-Macs, and there is a separate GCSE/A-level i-Mac facility with five workstations; we also have a set of i-pads for use in the classroom. Our 11 practice rooms, each with a piano, are used for instrumental teaching as well as group work and individual practice. The music department has a substantial stock of instruments, many available for hire. For large-scale concerts, the Great Hall can accommodate an audience of nearly 1000, while the Small Hall is used for our Chamber Concerts. All Saints' Church is the venue for our Carol Service and Founder's Day service.
Exam results and higher education
We are proud of our excellent record of GCSE, AS and A level Music results, stretching back over many years.
Until 2017 the vast majority of our GCSE Music students attained A*/A, and in recent years nearly half have been awarded grade 9. Over the last two decades about 3/4 of our students' A level grades have been A*/A. Many of our students proceed to undergraduate study in Music at leading universities such as Cambridge, Manchester and Birmingham; and conservatories, most recently to the Royal College of Music, Royal Academy of Music, Guidhall and Royal Northern College of Music. In a typical year there will be two GCSE classes about 12 taking A level Music.
Year 7 - 9
All pupils study music as part of the Key Stage 3 National Curriculum. In Year 7, pupils are taught in whole class groups, having four lessons (two singles and a double) in each two-week cycle. In Years 8 and 9 pupils are taught in two half-class groups of mixed ability, having one double lesson in each two-week cycle. Year 9 classes receive an additional set of Extra Music lessons, geared towards music technology, each pupil completing three projects over the course of the year using Logic and Sibelius software.
Projects at Key Stage 3 are usually completed each half term. The emphasis is on practical music-making wherever possible – ‘learning by doing’ - with differentiation to cater for all levels of ability. Topics include classical, jazz, pop and world music, with ongoing assessment of pupils’ progress through performing, composing and appraising.
Year 10 - 11
Edexcel GCSE Music is taught as a two-year course to two groups (typically 30-35 pupils per year) of equal ability, both groups working with their teacher on concurrent topics. Pupils are taught the three areas of performing, composing and listening, across the various areas of study. Solo and ensemble performing takes place in lessons and chamber concerts; composition is taught in various styles; and set works (analysed through various activities) cover a broad spectrum, from pop and jazz, film music, classical, folk and various ‘world’ music styles.
Year 12 - 13
Typically we have about 16 music students in Year 12 and about 12 in Year 13 studying music. For Edexcel AS level music students take three units, covering performance, composition (including harmony), aural and history/analysis. All students take the AS exam at the end of Year 12. Lesson content reflects the diverse range of requirements, with set works spanning a wealth of musical styles and traditions. Most, but not all of our students will have gained an A*/A for GCSE Music.
For A level Music students present a longer recital; complete further composition, including an extended pastiche exercise; and study a greater range of set works.
All sixth-form musicians are expected to involve themselves fully in the musical life of the school and there are various opportunities for them to perform in and direct their own instrumental and choral groups.
Activities and Recent Highlights
We aim to cater for a broad spectrum of standards and musical interests. Most of the ensembles are run by staff, but some are organised by students, such as our Jazz Band and a cappella groups, Barbershop and A Cut Above. Sixth formers are also responsible for organising our keenly contested biennial House Music Competition, in which each House prepares a performance for their Junior Choir, Senior Choir, Orchestra and Chamber Ensemble. Sixth formers also co-ordinate our popular Busking Week, one of several events that raise substantial sums of money for charity.
We have five orchestras that rehearse every week, serving standards from Grade 3 to post-Grade 8: Concert Orchestra (Grade 3-5, 35 pupils), Sinfonia (Grade 6-7, 40 pupils), Symphony Orchestra (Grade 7+, 65 pupils), Wind Orchestra (Grade 5+, 40 pupils) and Chamber Orchestra (Grade 8+, 20 pupils).
Our choirs include our auditioned Chamber Choir (SATB, Year 9-13) and Junior Singers (SSA, Year 7-8); and Senior Choir, which is open to all pupils in Year 9 to 13. Other instrumental ensembles include Concert Band (Grade 2-5, 50 pupils); Indian Music Ensemble; Junior Strings (Grade 1-2); World Percussion Ensemble; Guitar Ensembles; Junior Brass Ensemble; and a Double Bass Ensemble performed at this year's Awards Ceremony. Pop and rock bands perform at various events in and out of school.
Concerts and other music events
Our concerts at school include five large-scale events in the Great Hall (some involving 400+ pupils), a Pop, Jazz and All That evening, traditional Carol Service and seven Chamber Concerts – one for each year group. There are additional opportunities to perform music in full and year assemblies as well as other formal and informal events in and out of school. String quartets have recently performed at City Hall and the House of Lords, while last year Barbershop performed at the Enfield Governors’ Conference and at the Royal Festival Hall. Senior Choir sing under the Christmas tree at Trafalgar Square and in the spring term combine forces with an orchestra in a large-scale performance in the Music at Latymer concert, with former students, parents and friends of the school welcome to join us. In the last decade Chamber Orchestra has participated five times in the National Festival of Music for Youth and received awards on all five occasions. Chamber Orchestra and Chamber Choir take part in a European Tour every July, performing at churches, cathedrals and other prestigious venues – including, in recent years, St Mark’s Cathedral (Venice), St Vitus' Cathedral (Prague) and Brussels Cathedral.