Music plays a vital role in the life and profile of Lawrence Sheriff School and there is a strong tradition of high-level music making. Penrhos House is home to a bustling music department comprising 2 main teaching rooms, computer suite furnished with iMacs, recording studio and a number of well-equipped practice rooms.
Music is a compulsory component of the Key Stage 3 curriculum and during years 7 and 8, pupils explore a range of topics from rap to Minimalism to music and war through various compositional (both acoustic and computer-based), aural, historical and performance activities.
Music is taught in half class sizes allowing a great deal of personalised teaching and learning. Pupils have the opportunity to continue their musical education at GCSE level - the Edexcel specification comprises the analysis of 12 set works alongside composition and performance – and for AS and A level (OCR specification). Music Technology (Edexcel) is also offered at AS and A level. GCSE and AS/A level results are high and many pupils continue with their musical studies beyond school.
Pupils at Lawrence Sheriff are highly motivated and many learn to play an instrument (approximately 15% of pupils learn an instrument in school and many others have private lessons). The school offers instrumental lessons provided by Warwickshire County Music Service. Currently, peripatetic teachers provide lessons in brass, woodwind, violin, guitar (classical and rock), keyboard and percussion (including drums).
Outside of the classroom, there are many thriving extra-curricular and enrichment activities in which the pupils can get involved. Enrichment options, directed by the two full-time music teachers, include string orchestra, choir and intermediate jazz band, none of which are auditioned. School orchestra rehearses after school on a Thursday for which pupils should play at Grade 4 standard or above and for Senior Jazz Band – the school’s star ensemble with many performances in and around Rugby to their name – an audition is required. In addition to these, there are many student-led ensembles including rock bands and jazz combos. To showcase the pupils’ talents, the music department hosts regular concerts from Christmas Carol Services to the Battle of the Bands, from formal end-of-year Spring Concerts to Summer Soirees accompanied by afternoon tea.
Music also features prominently in the community. Ensembles regularly play at local events including summer fetes and Rugby’s Got Talent, at Age Concern and other nearby schools. Most recently, sixth form pupils from Lawrence Sheriff and Rugby High School worked with Year 5 pupils at Northlands Primary School on a musical showcase exploring the links between Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Bernstein’s West Side Story.
In 2007, the music department ran a very successful tour to Lake Garda and in 2009, the department travelled to France to perform in Paris and Disneyland. In 2011, pupils from both Lawrence Sheriff and Rugby High School toured Austria where they not only performed themselves but also explored the musical history of the area…notably Mozart!
Plans for 2012-13 include the introduction of GCSE Performing Arts for Year 11 pupils, new enrichment opportunities including Samba Band and Creative Music Technology, a joint Remembrance Day Concert with other schools in Rugby at the Temple Speech Rooms and a tour to Barcelona.