The heartbeat of Prospect House

Music in Class

When walking around the school, at any time of day, the chances are that the corridors will be filled with the faint sound of children singing or playing instruments. Prospect House is proud of its record of music scholarships and exhibitions gained by departing Year 6 pupils. All children, though, are actively engaged and encouraged, whatever their ability. Amidst the hard work, a healthy sense of humour and fun is deemed an essential part of the lessons!

Lessons with our specialist music teachers begin as soon as children join at age 3 or 4. In Nursery and Reception, our pupils are introduced to percussion instruments, movement to music and are taught to understand pitch together with basic tempo terminology. This is combined with singing nursery rhymes, learning songs from non-western musical traditions and discovering the secret code of musical notation.

As students progress up the Lower School, their music classes will include learning to recognise composers and musical styles in addition to introducing regular vocal and breath control exercises. The children will spend some time dedicated to exploring specific musical pieces such as Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. The ever-popular Lip-Sync Battles conducted in class help enhance performance skills and confidence on stage while music meditation sessions develop mindfulness practices.

Our longstanding Director of Music at the Upper School is a former head cathedral chorister and it is no wonder, therefore, that singing plays a large part in the life of a Prospect House pupil. The children are taught to sing properly from an early age, and expectations are high, with attention to detail. In Year 3 and 4 we concentrate on singing in music lessons and the students learn to use a variety of musical forms including rhythmic improvisation, rounds, ostinato and dynamic changes

In the final two years at the school, the children will be expected to respond to and discuss classical pieces, be able to recognise structures and use suitable terminology. They will delve into broad historical traditions such as the Renaissance, Classical and Romantic and write their own verses together with composing short pieces of music and duets. The students are encouraged to create their own musical pieces and projects using what they have previously learnt as the foundation.

Music outside of Class

There are currently 14 peripatetic music teachers at Prospect House and the majority of children learn at least one instrument. We offer tuition on the following instruments: piano, violin, viola, cello, flute, clarinet, oboe, saxophone, bassoon, recorder, trumpet, horn, trombone and classical guitar.

We have a large school orchestra in which all the instruments listed above feature and, very recently, we have introduced a new junior orchestra for students who are keen to join a group but have only just begun playing. In addition to these two orchestras, there are a number of ensembles which change each year depending on the interest of the children in the school. This year, for example, we have a string quartet, clarinet ensemble and guitar ensemble.

Everyone in the Upper School sings in a choir: Years 3 and 4 are part of junior choir and there is a senior choir for all children in Years 5 and 6, plus an auditioned chamber choir for the best singers in the school.

We make sure that there are ample performance opportunities for all students. The hotly-anticipated annual Carol Services and Summer Concerts are of a high musical standard and involve every single child from Year 3 up to Year 6. There are also smaller instrumental concerts as part of assembly on a regular basis and this year we held our inaugural house singing competition where each house sang their hearts out to Abba!

Our more able music students are very successful in gaining 11+ music scholarship places at their preferred secondary schools. Over the last four years, these schools have included King’s College Wimbledon, Wimbledon High, Kingston Grammar, Putney High, Reed’s, Hampton and Lady Eleanor Holles.

We are regularly invited to join workshop days at King’s College Wimbledon and St John’s, Leatherhead for children in Years 5 and 6 with high musical ability. The music department likes to get involved with local and national competitions as well. In spring 2023, our Year 6 brass trio reached the grand final of the Pro Corda national chamber music festival. They were one of only seven U12 ensembles in the country to have made it through to the final.