As far as possible, lessons take place during School periods on a rotating basis or, in the case of the Sixth Form, during private study periods. Pupils learning a second or third instrument are given such lessons during their free time.
A charge is made for the use of School instruments for lessons and practice. These charges do not normally apply to Music Scholars. Most pupils eventually buy their own orchestral instruments and the music staff are glad to help in making the right choice.
Group music-making is an important part of musical tuition and pupils learning orchestral instruments will be expected, when appropriate, to take part in ensembles, including the Orchestras and Concert Band.
If your child has been learning an instrument at preparatory school and you wish to continue lessons at Oundle, we would advise beginning music lessons straight away and not waiting a term or so ‘in order to settle in’. It is much easier to establish regular practice times if they are routine right from the start. Continuity is highly desirable and pupils need to make arrangements for regular practice during holidays, as well as in term-time.
In place of class music lessons in the Third Form, all Music Scholars follow a separate course which enables them to develop skills and musical understanding within the timetable. From the Fifth Form onwards, as part of the Wednesday afternoon option, pupils can choose to focus on their musical studies for the entire afternoon, starting with an Alexander Technique workshop which enhances achievement during the afternoon. There are also regular performance opportunities. In the Sixth Form, Music Scholars attend a weekly music performance extension course to focus on developing individual skills and musicianship. This course is ideal for those with ambitions to develop their full musical potential. All pupils can be invited to participate in the weekly Lunchtime Concert Series on Thursday lunchtimes in the parish church, which are open to the public, offering pupils the opportunity to gain performance experience.
A large number of pupils have successfully passed ATCL, LTCL, Dip ABRSM and even LRSM. There is a full programme of performance classes, rehearsal time with accompanists from the Piano Department, and classes on writing programme notes, viva voce preparation and reading skills. All candidates perform a full mock examination recital in the weekly Lunchtime Concert Series.
Oundle has been at the forefront of training organists, particularly for organ scholarships at Oxford and Cambridge, for the last 26 years. The annual summer school is known internationally.