About the Music Course
Junior Guildhall’s Music Course offers advanced training for young people between the ages of 8 to 18 (singers from mid-teens). This comprehensive programme is carefully designed to give students a balanced exposure to the discipline of music through individual instrumental lessons, chamber music, orchestras, choirs, workshop activity, classes and frequent performance opportunities.
An exciting curriculum, combined with the School’s modern facilities and professional staff, creates a unique environment for aspiring performers. With a timetable designed for their individual needs, students receive the type of considered personal attention from which young musicians thrive.
There are approximately 290 students who attend the Music Course, which runs from 8am to 6pm on Saturdays. All students receive an individually constructed timetable. There are compulsory activities and a number of optional classes and lessons (some at additional cost). The length of each student’s programme will, therefore, depend on the age group of the student and the number of optional activities chosen.
First study lessons can be provided in the following:
- Students receive 30 one-to-one instrumental or vocal lessons over the academic year for a minimum of 40 minutes per week with a specialist teacher. An extension to this lesson time can be requested at an additional cost.
- Optional extra study instrumental lessons can be requested at additional cost and Music Course students can also take extra study lessons in Jazz Saxophone, Jazz Piano and Jazz Voice.
- Weekly Musical Awareness classes develop aural perception, creativity and general musical knowledge and lead to the Junior Guildhall Higher Certificate in Music examination, which is usually taken in Year 10 or 11. Students in the Upper School (Years 12 &13) are offered a range of classes to choose from, including a General Class, an A Level Support Class or classes in Jazz, Conducting and Electronic Studio.
- The Chamber Music Programme develops high-level musical and life skills through the rehearsal and performance of chamber music.
- Specialist classes, ensembles and workshop opportunities relevant to the student’s instrument or voice.
- Constructive feedback through annual Platform Performances and Formal Assessments.
- Optional Alexander Technique lessons or classes, with a focus on posture and well-being, can be requested at an additional cost.
- Additionally, students on the Music Course may engage in jazz studies by taking one-to-one jazz lessons as an extra study and/or participating in Big Band, Jazz Choir and Jazz Musical Awareness (Years 12 & 13).
- Career advice and guidance is provided by the Senior Management Team.
Junior Guildhall offers a direct entry route to the second year of the Guildhall School’s BMus course (BMus2) for students with exceptional performance and academic ability. Students are selected by the Senior Management Team.
For each department there are specialist classes, workshops and ensembles. All students are expected to attend at least one ensemble or workshop activity which is directly relevant to their first study subject. These include:
|Symphony Orchestra||Brass Band||Trombone Class|
|Junior String Ensemble||Wind Academy||Horn Class|
|Intermediate String Ensemble||Wind Orchestra||Tuba Class|
|Junior Guildhall String Ensemble||Brass Ensemble||Percussion Ensemble|
|String Chamber Music||Brass Quintet||Big Band|
|Viola Class||Wind Chamber Music||Vocal Workshop|
|Bass Class||Saxophone Ensemble||Chamber Choir (SSA)|
|Harp Ensemble||Flute Class||Boys' Choir (By audition)|
|Guitar Workshop||Oboe Class||Junior Choir|
|Piano Workshop||Clarinet Class||Piano Ensemble|
|Bassoon Class||Composition Workshop||Piano Sightreading Class|
Performance is a central part of our work at Junior Guildhall and there are over 100 student concerts a year including Public Concerts, Student Recitals, Chamber Concerts, informal Open House Concerts and Second Study Concerts.
Students have made television and radio recordings and external performances have taken place at Barbican Hall, Fairfield Halls, Royal Albert Hall, Wales Millennium Centre, St James’s Piccadilly, St John’s Smith Square, St Martin-in-the-Fields, Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Southbank Centre, St Lawrence Jewry, St Stephen Wallbrook, Bishopsgate Institute, Charlton House, Regent Hall, West Road Concert Hall and as part of the Brandenburg and Thaxted Festivals.
Selected advanced students may be offered concerto performances or solo recital opportunities.
Most recent concert tours have included Spain, Scotland and Devon.
Details of public concerts by Junior Guildhall are included here.
Masterclasses and workshops are given by distinguished visiting artists and by members of Junior Guildhall professorial staff. They include guest performances, masterclasses, ensemble coaching and composition projects.
Recent guests have included Louis Dowdeswell, Alan Thomas, members of the London Symphony Orchestra, David Waterman and members of the Royal Opera House, The Endellion Quartet, Schubert Ensemble, Thomas Adès, Oystein Baadsvik, Jeff Bradetich, Iain Burnside, Charles Castleman, Peter Donohoe, Philip Fowke, James Galway, Bernard Haitink, John Harle, Paul Harris, Andrzej Jasinski, Jens Lindemann, Frank Lloyd, Ronan O’Hora, Gregg Patillo, Michael Seal, Dominic Seldis, Bobby Shew, Weidong Tong, Raphael Wallfisch and Mark Wigglesworth.
- Junior Guildhall has an extensive library of ensemble music which students are able to benefit from. Students may then sign out individual parts for pieces their group is rehearsing. Junior Guildhall students may also join the Barbican Library which is open on Saturdays. The Barbican Chimes Music Shop is located on Silk Street from which sheet music can be bought and ordered. Junior Guildhall students are entitled to a 10% discount on music bought through the shop.
- The School's recording studio incorporates an advanced industry standard Pro Tools recording and production system. Most concerts are recorded for archiving purposes and parents may obtain recordings of concerts in which their children have performed. There are also two elaborately equipped electronic studios, which boast a comprehensive range of synthesisers, samplers, effects units and computer systems. Raphael Wallfisch and Mark Wigglesworth.
Although no great emphasis is placed on graded examinations we recognise that many students like to take them. Students may take graded examinations or diplomas of any recognised board.
Our own internal examinations are kept to a minimum, giving preference to platform performance. All students, except those in Year 13, are expected to give one platform performance each year which is assessed and students in Years 12 and 13 are encouraged to give a recital. As part of their Musical Awareness course, all students take regular aural assessments and submit examples of their creative work for marking. Students are given the opportunity to perform their compositions and arrangements in concert. All students in the top level of our Middle School (usually Year 11 students) take our internal Higher Certificate in Music examination (further details are available on request from the Junior Guildhall Office) and all students in Year 11 take a formal performance assessment.
Students in their first year at Junior Guildhall have their place reviewed by taking a formal performance assessment.
Detailed progress reports on every student are issued annually during the Summer Term.
These notes are taken from the Agreement parents sign when accepting a Junior Guildhall place. If you would like a copy of the Agreement please contact the Junior Guildhall office.
- Junior Guildhall students are not permitted to participate in masterclasses or take instrumental lessons outside the School (unless with the student’s Junior Guildhall teacher) on instruments studied at the School unless permission is granted by the Head of Junior Guildhall.
- The full annual fee will vary according to any timetable requests made and the first instalment of fees must be paid prior to the commencement of tuition.
- Students are expected to remain at Junior Guildhall for a full academic year (or remainder of the academic year if tuition commenced after the start of the year). If a student is withdrawn from the course at any time during the year, the full annual fee (or proportion of annual fees if the student started after the commencement of the academic year) will still be payable unless dispensation has been granted by the Head of Junior Guildhall. If a parent wishes to withdraw a student at the end of the academic year, notice must be given in writing to the Head of Junior Guildhall no later than 1 April.
- Students are accepted into Junior Guildhall on the understanding that they make satisfactory progress and that they attend regularly. When students wish to be absent, permission must be requested in writing the Head of Junior Guildhall. Students should not arrange other activities on a term time Saturday or concert day until permission for absence has been granted by the School.
- Please note that we do not give students permission to miss concerts/performances or important rehearsals.
- Leave of absence will normally be granted for days when a student is not involved in a concert/performance, an important rehearsal, an internal assessment or other important event. Repeated absence can be detrimental to a student’s musical progress and very disruptive to ensemble work. For this reason, the Head of Junior Guildhall will normally only grant a student one absence per term. Absence from Saturdays may reduce a student’s chances of participation in Chamber Music. Written requests for absence should be made as early as possible.
- In the interest of all students, Junior Guildhall concerts and performances must have priority over any outside engagements that students may be offered. Principal concert dates are available from the Administrator more than a year in advance.
- The Office should be informed as soon as possible if a student is ill so that relevant teachers can be notified.
- The School occasionally arranges for photographs to be taken of the students. This is carried out in an unobtrusive manner and may be used for record and archival purposes. Junior Guildhall will seek separate permission if the images are to be used in the prospectus or in other published material and/or multi-media relating to the School.
These notes and conditions are subject to change from time to time. Parents will be notified in writing in advance of any such changes. On accepting a place, parents will receive a Handbook which details Junior Guildhall’s procedures and policies.
Entry is by competitive audition. Applications are accepted from 3 January for entry the following September and the closing date for applications is midnight 1 March. The main audition period is from 4 February to 14 April for entry in September 2023 but applications for entry at other times of the year will be considered if spaces are available. All audition dates are made at the discretion of the Head of Junior Guildhall to allow the convening of specialist panels.
Auditions are scheduled on any day from Monday to Saturday. Panels will usually be chaired by either the Head of Junior Guildhall or the Head of Junior Music Courses, along with the relevant specialist or head of department. While auditions are highly competitive, the panel will be looking for potential as well as achievement and dedication. As a rough guide, candidates will normally have attained a standard of about Grade 5 distinction at the age of 10 and Grade 8 distinction by the age of 16. It is not necessary to have taken any grade examination before the audition. Pre-audition sessions are available to provide prospective applicants with advice. Advice sessions are charged and can be booked by filling in the following form.
Candidates are assessed in five basic areas of performance, covering musical awareness, quality of sound, accuracy, communication and control of instrument. Students are requested to bring a list to the audition of pieces to be performed and scales and arpeggios to be asked to play.
- First study: two contrasting pieces
- Second study (optional): one piece
- Scales and arpeggios appropriate to standard. Normally 5-6 are asked. All keys/starting notes are own choice with a minimum of three tonal centres to be presented.
- Questions may be asked and tests given to ascertain a student’s level of general musicianship
Second Study (optional)
If you wish to be considered for a second study place, you must play your second instrument in the audition. Second study places are very limited, especially for piano, and can't be guaranteed.
Singers are not expected to sing scales and arpeggios but should bring to the audition a prepared short prose or poetry reading from memory.
Percussionists should present, where possible, three pieces, one on each of the following instruments: tuned percussion, timpani and snare drum. Orchestral repertoire is not considered suitable. The total performing time should not exceed ten minutes. Less advanced or young players may offer only one or two of these instruments, but this should be agreed with the School in advance of the audition.
Composers should send copies of three of their recent compositions to the Junior Guildhall Office. Candidates will then be invited to an interview and should be ready to play a prepared piece on an instrument of their choice, and undertake some sightreading and simple improvisation tests. Questions will be asked and tests given to ascertain a student’s level of general musicianship.
Late applications will generally be considered if spaces are available. However, there may be a delay in arranging an audition date. We do try to hear all applications but cannot guarantee a place even if the student is of our entry level. In such cases, students may be placed on a reserve list.
Please get in touch if you have missed the deadline.
Results are sent directly to the parent/carer as soon as possible after the audition period.
We may be able to offer a Pre-Audition Advice Session, aimed at parents who are unsure of whether their child is at the standard required to audition. This will normally be a one-to-one session, but the student’s parent/carer may also attend. The teacher may offer advice on musical interpretation and technical set-up and indicate whether the student is at a suitable standard for a Junior Guildhall audition.
Pre-Audition Advice Sessions are charged at £80 per hour. 30 and 40-minute sessions are also available, charged pro-rata. Sessions will take place on Saturdays, either in person or online, subject to availability.
If your child meets the audition requirements outlined on our website, a Pre-Audition Advice Session may not be necessary. Pre-Audition Advice Sessions are not consultation lessons and are only designed to assess whether a student is a suitable standard for audition. Receipt of a Pre-Audition Advice Session will not in any way influence the decision of the Junior Guildhall audition panel.
Pre-Audition Advice Sessions are offered subject to availability and early booking is recommended (i.e in the Autumn Term). This will ensure that you have the opportunity to act upon any advice given before your prospective audition date.
Please note that a Pre-Audition Advice Session may be delivered online via Zoom.
Should you need further information please email Junior@gsmd.ac.uk.
Consultation lessons with a member of the School’s teaching staff can be arranged for students who have been offered a place on the Music Course. There is a charge for this facility.
Junior Guildhall will provide an accompanist for live auditions, if relevant for the first and/or second study instrument, unless the candidate would prefer to use their own accompanist.