Music at Ratcliffe gives our students a superb wealth of opportunities to take part in the broad programme of activities across the school. Students learn many skills as well as having the enjoyment of working with like-minded musicians. The many ensembles and choirs work across the different years, strengthening the community atmosphere of the school. Teaching is practically based, which helps strengthen theoretical understanding. The emphasis is very much on learning through enjoyment and the students working in collaboration. This heightens the sense of community both in the department and in the school.
Music offers the chance for students to acquire skills which complement the other activities at Ratcliffe. By working alongside each other in the classroom and when in performance situations, they learn leadership and negotiation as their work is developed. As a result of the programme we offer, students attain highly both academically and practically, with a good number of students going on to read music after Ratcliffe. Over one-third of the practical results are at Distinction category.
The Key Stage 3 programme is performance and ICT based, exploring a wide range of musical genres including Western and World Music traditions. Classes are grouped in such a way that all students can exceed their potential.
Students follow the Edexcel Syllabus, in which students study eight Set Works as well as writing two compositions and giving two performances. At this level, students perform in concerts on a regular basis and contribute to the wider department.
The department is staffed by a team of instrumental specialists who give individual tuition on their instrument to those who would like it. There are schemes to support students who would like group lessons as well as a String scheme in the Preparatory School. Students who take up this opportunity are encouraged to join the wide array of choirs and ensembles on offer. These ensembles vary in size and are designed to cater for different tastes in such a way that students can perform at whatever they are at.
There are a vast number of performance opportunities available throughout the year, with a major concert each term, alongside the House Music Competition and informal performances which take place on a weekly basis.
At Key Stage Three, students many join the Intermediate Orchestra. This orchestra has students who are around Grade 1-4 standard and provides an excellent basis for entry to senior ensembles. All Year 7 sing in a choir and so have the opportunity to develop their voices whilst they settle into the year.
There are numerous smaller ensembles such as Brass Ensemble, Swing Band and String Ensemble. All these groups allow students to study specialist repertoire for their instrument whilst they develop ensemble playing.
The Senior Choir sings at all major services and functions in school; they also sing outside the College. They tackle complex repertoire and help support the whole school in their congregational singing. Highlights include the Last Night of the Proms and the Carol Service.
The Senior Orchestra is the flagship ensemble and comprises of students who have reached an advanced level. Although they perform at many events, the annual Picnic Concert is one of the most fun!
The Department is always looking for new ensembles so that students get the most diverse experience possible.
Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.