Music plays a central and much valued role in the academic and cultural life of John Mason School, and we were delighted to receive the Oxfordshire County Music Service Award for Innovation in School Music in 2019.
Students of all levels and abilities are encouraged to participate in music, both in lessons and in extra-curricular musical activities. The school staff are supported by a team of visiting music teachers who offer individual and small group music lessons on a variety of jazz, pop, rock and classical instruments.
Students receive 2 music lessons a fortnight in Years 7 and 8. Lessons are practical, and inclusive, ensuring that all get the opportunity to participate and develop new skills, whatever their starting point. Students learn to play, perform and create music in a range of solo and ensemble contexts, using keyboards, ukuleles, percussion, band instruments and music tech. All students learn basic music notation, and those with more prior knowledge are given extension tasks. The faculty has several practice rooms where students enjoy working on performances in small groups.
Students opt to take music in Year 9, and then follow it through to GCSE, for which we follow the Eduqas course. Year 9 is a foundational year, in which all students take individual music lessons, with financial support for those who would not otherwise be able to do this. There is a much greater emphasis on individual composition tasks, and students love the opportunities for digital creativity offered by the Mac suite. They start to develop a clear idea of how to shape a convincing performance through solo and group work, with regular feedback from their teachers and peers.
Students study a range of music from classical to rock and jazz, and the course is growing in popularity, as it provides not only a wonderful opportunity to showcase creativity but is also an excellent preparation for further musical study. Visits are planned to support learning, such as a trip to the Royal Opera House, and a visit to a recording studio to learn about music production and remixing techniques.
Numbers of students taking music at A level are flourishing, and students again follow the Eduqas course. They can choose to major in either composition or performance, allowing them to spend more time and energy developing their preferred area of expertise. Appraisal skills are broadened and deepened, through the study of a wide range of musical genres, supported by appropriate external trips. Students wishing to pursue their musical study beyond A level are ably supported in the preparation of interviews and auditions, and post-18 destinations include Oxbridge and leading conservatoires.
The Faculty runs a very busy and varied programme of activities, including the biennial whole school production, which brings together the Performing Arts and Visual Arts faculties. Instrumental ensembles include Jazz Band and Orchestra, as well as many jazz, pop and rock groups. There is a strong choral tradition at John Mason School and our Junior Choir have been chosen to be the ‘featured choir’ at Wembley Arena for Voice in a Million, performing a solo item in front of thousands. Students have the opportunity to perform at a number of different external venues, in addition to the popular termly school concerts, which are always a treat to hear. John Mason students have recently performed at the Royal Albert Hall, Dorchester Abbey, and the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford. Collaborative concerts with artists such as the Kings’ Singers, Chamber Choir of London, and the London Mozart Players, have offered our musicians the most fantastic experiences of performance to a professional standard, and many say that these will be among their most cherished memories from their time in the school.
Whatever your experience or aspirations, we hope that John Mason Music Department will have something to offer you, and look forward to have you joining us.