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The Music Department consists of a large, dedicated and enthusiastic staff of four class teachers, eight full-time instrumental instructors, twelve visiting music instructors, and a full-time Administrator. Together, they foster a positive and creative environment for our pupils.
Situated mainly on the top floor of the Margaret Harris Building, the Department comprises many well-equipped and well-resourced classrooms and instrumental teaching/practice rooms. There is a substantial computer lab which incorporates Sibelius Music packages. There is also a classroom equipped with recording equipment for the delivery of Music Technology courses.
Class Music is taught throughout the school from the Nursery up to F2. National 5 and Higher courses are offered in Music and Music Technology, and Advanced Higher in Music from F3 to F6, as well as free-standing units in Performing on one instrument.
Instrumental instruction has a large and very important role to play in the school with almost half the pupils in L3 to F6 having lessons on a weekly basis. At present instruction is offered in all orchestral instruments as well as piano, organ, singing, classical guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar, drumkit, recorder, chanter, bagpipes, pipe-band drumming, and clàrsach. Pupils are presented for Associated Board, Pipes and Drums Qualifications Board and Scottish Traditional Examinations within school, although this is not mandatory.
Pupils may also choose to enter Trinity College of London, London College of Music and Rockschool Examinations out of school. The department also runs an Annual Music Competition open to all instrumentalists and singers of Grade 1 standard and above (L3-L7) and Grade 5 and above (F1-F6). There is also an annual House Singing Competition and a Chamber Music Competition, both for F1-F6.
All pupils are encouraged to participate in choral music. In the Nursery, the pupils participate in the Christmas and Summer Singalongs, pupils in L1-L3 sing in the Nativity Play. The choirs for older pupils perform at least three times each session: L4-5 Choir; L6-7 Choir; Girls’ Choir and Boys’ Choir for F1-F6; and Cantabile, a specialist auditioned choir of 20-30 pupils in F3-F6.
Among the instrumental ensembles, there are Symphony Orchestra and Sinfonia; Symphonic Band and Concert Band; Chamber Orchestra, String Sinfonietta, Scottish Baroque Orchestra, Little Heifetz and Tutti Strings; Big Band; and various string, woodwind, brass, percussion, guitar and clàrsach ensembles. In addition, there is an RSPBA-registered Competition Pipe Band and a School Pipe Band. Opportunities exist for pupils to form their own groups in preparation for the Chamber Music Competition. Pupils are also encouraged to join outside musical organisations, such as the National Youth Choir of Scotland, the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland and the Scottish Schools’ Orchestra Trust, and attend national training schools, orchestras and choirs.
All the instrumental groups listed above have the chance to perform at least twice each year. The school stages two major concerts a year in the Dundee’s premier civic venue, the Caird Hall. Each year there is a Carol Service and a “Music in May” concert in St Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, a Strings Soirée in the University of Dundee Chaplaincy, and numerous concerts in the school’s own venues, including a weekly Performance Platform on Thursday afternoons open to any pupil in the school. There is additionally a series of instrument-focused days and masterclasses.
The Music Department enjoys opportunities to work with other departments in the school. Each year, there is a performance in collaboration with the Drama Department of a musical by pupils in L6-7 and F4-6 alternately; recent musicals include “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”, “Les Misérables”, “Seussical”, and “Fiddler on the Roof”. Plays staged by the Drama department are often accompanied by live music performed by pupils.
The Music Department supports various local charities and community events with donations from concerts and services, and by providing musical entertainment at local events.