The Music Department underpins its varied and lively programme of practical music-making with firm academic foundations. Pupils are offered a wide-ranging foundation course in the Second and Third Forms, centred on work which is developed at GCSE level, should this be an option.
Glenalmond’s music department resides in a listed building designed by Basil Spence and is situated at the heart of the College. It is home to a beautiful, wood-floored Recital Hall, the offices of the three full time music staff, the Music School Administrator and seven teaching/practice rooms. There are also two teaching classrooms, one laid out with desks, high definition blu-ray, large flat screen monitor and full surround sound, and the other a dedicated Music Technology teaching classroom, with an adjacent soundproofed live room.
All teaching and practice rooms are equipped with upright pianos. There is a Yamaha concert grand piano in the stunning Recital Hall and the Chapel benefits from a II/26 mechanical action Harrison & Harrison organ, newly installed in 2007.
Glenalmond music is constantly being taken out into the community. The annual Choral Society concert takes place in a large venue away from Glenalmond. Our instrumentalists and singers have performed over recent years in Carlisle Cathedral, Hexham Abbey, Oban Cathedral, St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral Edinburgh, Dunblane Cathedral, St Ninian's Cathedral Perth and St Giles' Cathedral Edinburgh. In addition our musicians bring many prizes back from the annual Perform in Perth Festival, as well as performing at local prep schools and at charity events in the local community.
Our musicians are currently representing Glenalmond in the Perth Youth Orchestra, Aberdeen Youth Orchestra, Edinburgh Youth Orchestra, National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, the National Children's Orchestra, the National Schools' Symphony Orchestra, the National Youth Choir of Great Britain, the Scottish Opera Connect programme and the National Youth Choir of Scotland.
Music Technology is taught using a suite of Apple iMacs, running Logic Studio 9 and Sibelius 7. There is a separate 32 channel mixer which routes via a MOTU interface into a dedicated iMac for audio recording. The department also owns several professional Kurzweil, Yamaha and Roland keyboards, together with a selection of good guitar, bass and keyboard amplification
There are many opportunities for bands to perform, with professional PA being brought in for concerts in the theatre to provide substantial sound reinforcement! The music technology facilities are freely available to all interested pupils, subject to reaching a satisfactory level of skill. Music Technology is studied in small groups at AS and A2 with results leading recent pupils to continue their studies at university. One recently departed Glenalmond pupil achieved a rare A* grade and as part of the sandwich year in his studies on the Tonmeister Course at Surrey University, he has been working in the Real World Studios and is currently on tour as a member of Peter Gabriel's personal entourage.
All the individual teaching rooms at Glenalmond are named after famous Scottish musicians. Glenalmond is very proud to recognise the contribution of the following to music on a global scale:
All instrumental and singing pupils are expected to be a member of an ensemble as a part of their studies. The following groups meet on a weekly basis:
In addition to the above groups there are many further small ensembles created on a termly basis to bring particular groups of musicians together. Recent such groups have included a duo preparing Bach's Double Violin Concerto in D minor, a String Quartet preparing Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 8, a violin/viola duo preparing Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante, a Wind Quintet, a Wind Trio, a further violin/viola duo preparing works by Martinu and Stamitz, and a violin/horn/piano group working on Brahms' Horn Trio. All these ensembles receive weekly specialist coaching from a member of the music team.
The Chapel Choir of between 50 and 60 singers rehearses three times a week, singing an anthem at the weekly Sunday service. Repertoire is drawn from the Anglican tradition, together with classic choral repertoire from European composers such as Mozart, Bach and Brahms. Singing has always been at the forefront of Glenalmond music making, with soloists being nurtured in the choir and given many opportunities to perform. The choir sings throughout Scotland and has an impressive catalogue of recordings to its credit (including specially commissioned music from Bob Chilcott and Peter Gritton). Recent guest conductors have included Matthew Owens, Paul Spicer and Duncan Ferguson.
A highlight of the Glenalmond musical calendar is the annual October Glenalmond Choral Day, an occasion when we welcome many local prep and junior school choirs to Glenalmond for a day of intensive rehearsals, culminating in a spectacular massed choir evening service.
Choral Society draws together the Chapel Choir with other staff and pupil members of the school, joined by parents and members of the local community to perform works with orchestra at large venues away from Glenalmond.
2011 Britten St Nicolas, St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh
2012 Fauré Requiem, Goodall Eternal Light, Dunblane Cathedral
2013 Mozart Requiem, St Ninian's Cathedral, Perth
2014 Handel Messiah, Perth Concert Hall
2015 Orff Carmina Burana, Perth Concert Hall
The Chamber Choir is a smaller group which draws together the best singers in the school for occasional concerts or one-off events.
Each week around 275 individual music lessons are delivered by a team of 24 visiting music staff and by the 3 full time members of department. Glenalmond is fortunate to have a loyal and supremely talented team of musicians, many of whom travel considerable distances each week from Glasgow and Edinburgh to ensure that our musicians benefit from the best possible musical instruction.
Members of the music team are drawn from the top professional orchestras in Scotland, with singers from the Scottish Opera; some also have responsibilities at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, and are in addition members of the coaching staff for some of the major national Youth Orchestras.
All instrumentalists are prepared in theory study alongside their practical work. This ensures that when Grade 5 is reached, the theoretical knowledge is a natural, properly learned level, rather than one which requires cramming to achieve the requisite pass.
Lessons are available in the following instrumental disciplines:
Music Scholars at Glenalmond are afforded the opportunity to pursue their deep and committed love for music, alongside their regular academic studies. Music scholars are expected to be ambassadors for music both in and out of school. Their personalised programme of musical study is kept under regular review by the Director of Music and the individual instrumental/singing teachers. Although not always the case, there is an expectation that music scholars will study music at GCSE level. A level choice is left more open to allow for non-musical vocational study. The performance opportunities available at Glenalmond are second to none and scholars are nurtured musically, preparing them for the many occasions upon which they will be on the big stage representing both themselves and the school.
There are up to five music scholarships/exhibitions available annually, valued at between 10-25% of the fees, with free music tuition. Scholarships can be topped up to 100% of the fees through further means-tested bursaries. Although an approximate standard of around Grade 5 is a benchmark for Third Form entry, the Director of Music is always keen to hear from young musicians who may not have reached specific standards but are exhibiting potential and enthusiasm.
A bespoke Organ Scholarship is awarded annually: this can be awarded to a candidate in any year group, sometimes to a pianist who shows natural instinct to progress on to the organ. Given the daily chapel tradition at Glenalmond, we offer a very exciting opportunity for organists looking to progress towards Oxbridge Organ Scholarships, with virtually unlimited chances to play for services and to prepare and direct choirs. Last year's departing Organ Scholar has recently taken up post as Organ Scholar at Oriel College, Oxford.
For information with regard to general music or organ scholarships, please contact the Director of Music, Tim Ridley, or 01738 842148. He is always keen to meet potential musicians at any stage in their musical development for an informal chat.
Piping bursaries are also available. For further information please contact Mr Brian Elrick or telephone 01738 842065