We were founded within Magdalen College as a Choir School over 500 years ago and as such, music has always been an integral part of life in the Junior School.
The College Choir is internationally recognised as one of the world’s finest ensembles and sixteen of our boys sing regular term time services in Magdalen College chapel under the direction of Informator Choristarum Mark Williams. All of our boys sing regularly in assembly and at various events throughout the year. Junior School choir is open to all, though the Chamber Choir is an auditioned choir for J3 and J4’s. Our Chamber Choir sings an Evensong service at Exeter College to explore this repertoire, and join our own Choristers to sing a service in the College chapel.
Each boy from J1 to J4 has two curriculum music lessons each week, where they discover composers, learn about music in history and play and sing all different genres of music.
Most boys learn at least one instrument and we have a team of visiting music teachers with excellent track records in ABRSM, Trinity and Rock School examination results. These one-to-one lessons are hugely beneficial and we have an increasing number of our boys reaching Grades 6 with one recently passing his Grade 8 piano with distinction. There is a huge breadth of instrumentalists within the Junior School with reflects the impressive musicality amongst the boys.
In the first year of Junior School (J1), all boys have a series of lessons on the violin, recorder and trumpet. They learn the fundamentals of creating a sound on each instrument. After pupils have tried each instrument, they choose the instrument at which they have greatest natural flair and have further lessons, developing note reading skills, performance and ensemble skills culminating in the J1 orchestra at the end of the year. This then leads them to explore other instruments in the chosen family for them to start learning.
The pupils are encouraged to take part in at least one of the many ensembles on offer: string players are invited to the String Orchestra or String Squad, wind and brass players to the Wind and Brass Ensemble, guitarists to the Guitar Ensemble and pianists to the Piano Duets/Trio Club. Informal Tea Time concerts have become particularly popular with boys of all abilities playing alongside each other. Our House Music competition sees every boy perform to his class and parents are warmly invited to all of our musical events.
There are many performance opportunities for boys in the JS both formally and informally culminating in our ‘Grand Concert’ in Hilary term.
Boys enjoy performing in regular teatime and chamber concerts as well as for other JS events such as Grandparents afternoon, Prize giving, Carol Services (at Magdalen College Chapel) and more recently services of choral evensong colleges in Oxford such as Exeter College chapel.
Our Grand Concert in March show cases the Junior School Music with all of the boys involved. The first half sees our various ensembles perform and the last two have seen a full orchestra of over 50 Junior School boys playing pieces such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars, Holst extracts from Jupiter and Mozart horn concerto no. 4. After the interval each class sings a piece with the whole school coming together for the grand finale.
Our approach to music is inclusive and designed to develop the musical potential in each of the boys. There is fine depth and quality in our Junior School Music, but also a real sense of teamwork and fun.