At Yardley Court, we aim to help pupils discover the joy and excitement to be found in music. Through a wide range of performance opportunities and listening experiences, the boys are encouraged to keep an open mind and broaden their horizons, developing their own tastes and respecting those of others.
In class, boys are given support to compose and perform. They are also taught basic theory, notation and musicianship skills appropriate to their individual level, and encouraged to stretch their own boundaries. Pupils listen to and work in a range of styles and genres and historical periods. The Sibelius music software in our Music Technology Suite is a popular resource with our older students.
Pupils are given the option of studying one or more instruments individually during the school day, with tuition provided by an excellent team of specialist peripatetic teachers. Instruments currently on offer include violin, viola, ‘cello, trumpet, trombone, French horn, euphonium, oboe, clarinet, flute, bassoon, drums, acoustic guitar, piano, keyboard and voice. The Director of Music is always happy to receive enquiries from parents about possible instrumental tuition, and will gladly give advice if required. An afternoon soiree takes place each term for each year group from Year Two to Year Eight. These and the annual House Music Competition provide plentiful and regular solo performance opportunities for the children as they progress.
Many instrumental groups exist for pupils who wish to develop their ensemble skills and explore the immense satisfaction to be had collaborating with other musicians. Our brass group recently won an Honours award at the Sevenoaks Three Arts’ Festival gaining the highest mark in the instrumental ensemble categories. We also offer a clarinet group, flute group, guitar group, ‘cello group, senior and junior string groups. Our large orchestra draws players from Yardley Court and Derwent Lodge, and all children who have reached an appropriate standard are invited to participate.
We hosted two exciting afternoons of music making this year for our brass and string players. Tonbridge School entertained us with their Sixth Form Brass Quintet, followed with a workshop for our senior brass group. We held a similar afternoon for our senior string group with guests from Kent College Sixth Form.
Yardley Court recognises the fun and educational value which children can derive from singing. The Junior Choir involves every boy from Years Three and Four. Boys from Year Five to Eight can join the Yardley Court Senior Choir which is currently over 100 strong. Both choirs rehearse weekly and perform in all Schools at Somerhill concerts as well as on other special occasions, including the two Christmas Carol Services. We also take boys out to visit care homes for the elderly at Christmas time, to sing carols to and with the residents. In addition, there is an auditioned Chamber Choir for boys and girls from Year Six. This Choir has recently won first prize with a distinction in the Junior Choral category of the Sevenoaks Three Arts’ Festival.
Boys who are particularly gifted and committed have the opportunity to audition for the Tonbridge School Chapel Choir should they desire, which rehearses several times a week and regularly performs cathedral repertoire; in return Tonbridge School pays a contribution towards the school fees of Chapel Choristers. We are delighted to have eight choristers for the academic year 2016-2017. This year, we were privileged to be invited to take a group of boys to take part in Evensong at Tonbridge School, singing alongside the boys from Tonbridge Chapel Choir.
The Music Department strongly supports Drama within the school, and several full-scale musical shows are produced each year. These always involve large numbers of children singing on stage and can also provide yet another opportunity for instrumentalists to participate.
Here are our latest music exam results! It's worth remembering, when gaining an understanding of how well the children are doing, that the average age for the achievement of Grade 1 nationally is 10 years old.