We are fortunate to have a large number of visiting teachers coming to Cheam with specialist skills and can therefore offer instrumental tuition on a range of instruments as well as singing lessons.
We have tuition on the piano and the full selection of orchestral instruments including harp.
If a child has a particular interest or aptitude for wanting to learn an instrument not immediately available at Cheam, we will do our best to organise a teacher!
We do encourage children to consider orchestral instruments as their first study enabling them to play in ensembles and groups. It is also important that we share with parents the inherent complex nature of the piano, which uses the two staves of music and ask them to carefully consider this particular instrument.
We offer Year 3 a special introductory session to explore all the instruments available at Cheam. For older children there are plenty of opportunities to have trial lessons on selected instruments as required.
During the course of a typical term there are normally about 300 music lessons a week with 80% of the school studying an instrument! We do have pupils who learn two or even three instruments. It is a matter of balancing their specific skills and interests around school.
Each pupil receives an individual 30 minute lesson every week. The music lessons work alongside the academic timetable and rotate throughout the term. In special circumstances, music lessons can be extended in time for senior musicians working towards higher grades.
This rotating system works well. There are occasional conflicts of interest between different Departments. These can easily be avoided with flexibility of timetabling/rearranging and resolved with good levels of communication.
At every lesson, the instrumental teacher will update a department lesson planner for every child noting the work covered and offering an achievement grade (1-5) for the lesson and practice during the previous term. They are totalled and facilitate the choice of pupil for the teacher's instrumental termly prize.
The teacher also writes appropriate information in the pupil's Practice Diary. This book serves as a useful communication between parents and teacher. Communication is vital and encouraged. Teachers are in regular e-mail contact with parents and we offer an open house policy encouraging any parents to sit in on lessons whenever they can. Within the department we work on a positive encouraging basis. We endeavour to inspire the children to achieve their potential and enjoyment from playing a chosen instrument.
We strive for that magic partnership of right child, right instrument, right teacher and right parent! During their time at Cheam we recognise that the children can need to explore different instruments before they find the best option. We do expect children to practise regularly and encourage them to work on the basis of little and often. All the instrumental teachers recognise that the children at Cheam have a full and demanding day. It is about supporting, prioritising and perfecting the best use of practice time. The art of a brilliant 20 minute session! It is these skills that we try and develop with all pupils.
We organise regular practice sessions after supper every evening for the weekly boarders and the practice rooms are available at various points in the day for the day children to use. We have a number of school instruments that pupils can borrow, particularly the larger, more expensive ones! This gives pupils the chance to really understand whether this is the correct choice of instrument before sourcing their own.
When parents decide to purchase an instrument which we really encourage in the long term, the instrumental teachers are always happy to advise and help make the most suitable and reasonable choices.