Music

‘The Language of music is much richer and more eloquent than that of words. In its sublime manifestations, music touches upon spiritual spheres that words cannot penetrate. Music is a spiritual art. It shall bring light and good to people.’ – Edison Denisov

At Monmouth School for Girls music plays an equally rich and important role in the life of the school and girls are encouraged to take up instruments, join orchestras and ensembles, sing and perform. Music is the lifeblood and the heartbeat of the school.  We possess a talented team of instrumental and singing teachers, providing tuition for a large proportion of the girls. Lessons are usually individual (although shared lessons can be requested in certain circumstances) and last for 30 minutes. In Years 6-9 lessons are arranged during the normal school timetable, but are rotated so that the same subject lesson is not missed on consecutive weeks. In Year 10 and above, lessons are usually arranged in lunchtimes, free periods and after school to avoid missing subject lessons.

There are many opportunities for performance and every girl has the chance to gain experience in performing; there are high profile formal concerts as well as more relaxed ones aimed at less experienced musicians.

Our aim in the Music Department is to develop a deep understanding and appreciation of different kinds of music and to fire up enthusiasm to look a little further. We hope that, through studying music, girls will develop broader life-skills and attributes including critical and creative thinking, aesthetic sensitivity and emotional and cultural development. We explore the diverse and dynamic heritage of music and the essential role it has played, and continues to play, in the spiritual, moral, ethical, social and cultural lives of people from around the world, both in the past and right now.

After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music. Aldous Huxley

Combining and sharing the musical skills of the more advanced pupils from Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools is a fundamental part of the musical experience we offer here at both schools.

The HMSSO, Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools’ Symphony Orchestra, exists to bring the best players together in order to give them the opportunity to tackle some of the more challenging and rewarding music in the orchestral repertoire. The orchestra meets for three Sunday workshops, once in the Michaelmas term, and twice in the Lent term. The third and final workshop always takes place during the week of the Concert when HMSSO perform the chosen repertoire in public for the first time.

The control and directorship of the orchestra alternates between the two Schools. In 2014 HMSSO performed John Williams’ Superman March, Mendelssohn’s Fingal’s Cave, Walton’s Henry V Suite and Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise, at the Gala 400th Anniversary Concert held at the Wales’ Millennium Centre Cardiff on the 2nd of March. On this occasion we were delighted that Professor Jane Glover CBE, a former pupil of Monmouth School for Girls, who is an internationally renowned conductor, former Musical Director of the London Mozart Players and currently Director of Opera at the Royal Academy of Music, kindly consented to share her wealth of experience with the pupils by conducting Fingal’s Cave. In 2015 under the direction of David Lawson, Director of Music at Monmouth School for Boys, HMSSO performed Verdi’s La Forza del Destino OvertureDanse Macabre by Saint-Saëns, The Comedians by Kabalevsky and The Typewriter by Leroy Anderson. In 2016 under the direction of Amy Clouter, HMSSO performed Nimrod from Elgar’s Enigma Variations, the Intermezzo from the Háry János Suite by Kodaly, and Rodeo by Aaron Copland. In 2017, the orchestra performed in St David’s Hall as part of the celebrations for Monmouth School for Girls’ 125th Anniversary.

The Symphonic Winds and the Senior Strings are two ensembles which meet every week, and pupils of both Schools of Grade 5 standard and above are invited to attend. There are regular workshops and concerts which take place throughout the year. There have been tours to Barcelona and Prague, and many awards have been won in the National Concert Band Festival which are held every year. In 2007-08 the prolific band composer Phillip Sparke was commissioned by Monmouth School for Boys to compose a piece of music for the Symphonic Winds. The result being A Monmouth Overture, which was performed at the Gala 400th Anniversary Concert held at the Wales’ Millennium Centre, Cardiff. Senior Strings also performed on this occasion and gave an exquisite performance of Elgar’s Serenade for Strings.

There is a rich variety of musical co-curricular groups, which rehearse weekly at lunchtimes or after school. These ensembles include:

  • Junior Singers
  • Concert Choir
  • Chamber Choir
  • Jazz Crusaders
  • Guitar Group
  • St Catherine’s Strings
  • Wind Band
  • Theory Club

Pupils are also encouraged to form their own chamber ensembles and time is dedicated towards coaching and providing appropriate performing opportunity.

Music is the heartbeat and the lifeblood of Monmouth School for Girls. We aim to provide a personalised and positive learning environment for students, within which they are able to achieve their full musical potential whilst developing transferable skills and a lifelong enjoyment of music.

Music at Monmouth School for Girls is accessible and inclusive; all students are encouraged to pursue individual and ensemble musical interests and opportunities. The department aims to offer students cultural and aesthetic experiences through active participation in music, which will enhance their understanding and appreciation of the arts, through outstanding teaching practices and a broad range of co-curricular opportunities.

We aim to offer every student a rich educational experience through excellent classroom teaching and a full programme of co-curricular activities. There are many opportunities for performance; from high profile formal concerts to more relaxed ones aimed at less experienced musicians. Specifically, our aims are:

  1. To foster a love of singing within every student and to equip her with elementary singing techniques;
  2. To positively encourage every student to join a co-curricular music activity of their own choice to experience the rewards of collective music-making by offering her the experience of performing in public to increase personal confidence and teamwork skills;
  3. To provide opportunities for students to learn an orchestral instrument and to provide suitable opportunities for group instrumental playing;
  4. To stretch the more able and talented musicians; to ensure they are offered the necessary support classes (aural/theory) and to encourage them to join county and national orchestras so that they are working with players of a higher standard than themselves;
  5. To offer an academic curriculum which caters for different levels of musical interests and abilities and where the teaching & learning experience is sector-leading;
  6. To develop a deep understanding, appreciation and love of different musical genres and a life-long love of music;
  7. To develop critical and creative thinking, aesthetic sensitivity, emotional and cultural literacy;
  8. To provide opportunities to learn music technology;
  9. To ensure that every student leaves Monmouth School for Girls with the musical skills required to enjoy participation in choirs, orchestras, jazz, popular groups or musical theatre as a social occupation;
  10. To ensure that able, talented, committed musicians achieve places to study music at the best higher education providers.

[cycloneslider id=”ensembles-choirs-and-orchestras”]


Co-curricular groups are for the following pupil year groups or abilities:

  • Chamber Choir – Years 11-13, by audition only
  • Concert Choir – Years 9-11 all abilities
  • Guitar Group – all ages and abilities
  • Jazz Crusaders – all ages and abilities
  • Junior Singers – Years 7-8 all abilities
  • Senior Strings – all ages, Grade 5+, by invitation only (joint with Monmouth School for Boys)
  • St Catherine’s Strings – all ages and abilities
  • Symphonic Winds – all ages, Grade 4+, by invitation only (joint with Monmouth School for Boys)
  • Theory Club – all ages and abilities
  • Wind Band – all ages and abilities
  • Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools Symphony Orchestra – all ages, Grade 5+, by invitation only (joint with Monmouth School for Boys)

Each year, educational visits and external performances provide important enrichment opportunities. Symphonic Winds have travelled recently to Prague, Spain and Italy. At the end of the Lent term, Year 7s and many of the senior choral singers will perform with Monmouth School for Boys and Monmouth Choral Society in a large scale choral work; directed by the Director of Music at Monmouth School for Boys and usually performed at Wyastone Concert Hall. This year it is Kodaly’s Missa Brevis. Previously they have performed Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms; Orff’s Carmina Burana and Mozart’s Mass in C minor. Recent music trips included a Performing Arts trip to London in January 2018 to see Wicked and participate in a Musical Theatre workshop.

There is a Theory Club run on a voluntary basis by Mrs R. Friend.  This provides pupils with the opportunity to prepare for, and sit, any grade in ABRSM Theory; an essential requirement should you wish to proceed beyond grade 5 instrumental or vocal.  This is also a way of stretching and challenging our MAT students.  There are also ABRSM aural sessions run by Mrs A. Clouter which enable pupils to hone their listening skills.

In 2016, Monmouth School for Girls presented the musical Beauty and the Beast jointly with Monmouth School for Boys. Joint musicals take place every two years and are hosted by the two schools in alternation. Monmouth School for Boys have worked towards a production of Les Misérables in March 2018, which many girls are involved in. In 2017 as part of the HMSG 125th anniversary celebrations, the Haberdashers’ schools performed at a celebratory concert at St David’s Hall, Cardiff.

The department often visits concerts and musicals in Cardiff, Bristol and London, where they can witness and appreciate performances of the highest quality.

Music Scholarships are available at 11+, 13+ and 16+. Music scholars are expected to act as a role model in the Music department; helping to foster a positive and enthusiastic approach. They are expected to inspire and support younger students wherever possible. Many of our music scholars go above and beyond what is expected of them and help to coach, conduct or arrange music for some of our ensembles and chamber groups.

For any extra information regarding Music Scholarships, contact the Admissions Office on 01600 711104.

Follow Monmouth Girls Music on Twitter