The Music Department at Durston House is a vibrant and stimulating environment, providing a wide range of opportunities for creative development within the curricular and co-curricular life of the school. All lessons are taught by specialist music teachers. Music lessons are practical in nature and provide enjoyable musical experiences through listening, composing, performing and appraising. Singing lies at the heart of our Music provision. The Kodály method of music education and Solfège are used for teaching both basic and advanced musical skills. Throughout their time at Durston House, boys can choose to be involved in a number of different co-curricular groups and individual instrumental lessons, catering for all levels of experience and abilities. The most advanced musicians are encouraged to apply for Music Scholarships to their chosen Senior Schools.
Boys in Pre-Prep have two music lessons per week. They are introduced to core musical elements: pulse, rhythm, pitch, timbre, tempo, and dynamics. The Kodály and Solfège methods promote the use of voice as the first instrument. Developing the confidence to sing solo in front of an audience is encouraged from the earliest age. Furthermore, boys have a 60-minute weekly lesson of Music and Movement, which provides them with the opportunity to link together the visual, auditory and kinaesthetic elements of music. All boys are involved in the Pre-Prep Christmas production.
In Junior School, boys have two weekly lessons, during which they develop their understanding of the basic principles of written music notation and music theory. Boys continue to develop their singing and musicianship skills. They sing songs and play instruments with increasing confidence, skill and expression and contribute to a group or class performance. An understanding of improvisation and musical composition is developed through independent and creative responses to stimuli. A wide variety of instruments is introduced and boys become more confident in recognising these in musical extracts. All boys take part in the Junior School production which is performed in the Spring Term.
Middle School boys have two music lessons per week in Year 5 and one music lesson per week in Year 6. Existing knowledge of music theory and notation is consolidated and developed. Advanced musical terminology is introduced to advance and strengthen musical appreciation skills. Class work mainly revolves around singing, listening, performing and composing. Boys use their voices, keyboards and individual instruments to create compositions and performances, either individually or as part of a group. The music software Sibelius is used to support composing techniques. Music workshops and outings to musical performances enhance the boys’ experience of the subject. In addition, Music Days at several Senior Schools allow selected boys to play in a larger ensemble, improving their musical skills and their understanding of the workings of an orchestra.
In Upper School, boys have one music lesson per week. Pupils refine their knowledge of music theory and use Sibelius music composition software to create original, structured compositions. As boys progress through the Upper School they become more independent in their development of performances and compositions. They are introduced to a wide range of musical styles and genres intended to broaden their musical horizons. The boys apply their knowledge of sophisticated musical terminology to describe musical extracts in topics such as History of Musicals, Minimalism, Jazz and Blues, World Music and Composition. As in Middle School, selected boys take part in Music Days at Senior Schools. Professional musicians are invited to deliver workshops at Durston and, in addition to other outings, Year 8 boys are taken to see a musical production.