Our courses are five days long and run from Monday to Friday.
Our tutors are chosen from amongst the finest performers and teachers in the UK. They are experienced in working with students of all ages, and combine immense technical knowledge and musicianship with the ability and enthusiasm to pass on their skills to the next generation of brass musicians. Because the courses are specifically for brass players, we can concentrate on a repertoire perfectly suited for those attending, and we can give them the instrument-specific attention and focus that they would not get on an orchestral course. They also get to play a lot more than they would on an orchestral course, rather than counting rests through seemingly endless string sections of music. There are small ensembles, masterclasses, a competition, sessions in individual instrument groups, tutor demonstrations, and two hours of sport each afternoon.
Our Easter Course tends to have a younger age profile than our Summer Course, because a lot of older children are working for their summer exams. On our Easter Courses, about a quarter of the children are teenagers; on our Summer Courses, half the children are. All ages are welcome on all courses!
For those staying on a residential basis (usually about two thirds to three quarters of those attending our courses), there will be fun activities in the evenings: a quiz, treasure hunt and indoor or outdoor games sessions. Teenagers can join in these activities or choose to have a more relaxed, less structured evening. Some older children in The Workshop even choose to get in a little extra music practice. Either way, our aim is to have everyone happily exhausted by bedtime!
The children learn in small ensembles with those of a similar ability, as well as in masterclasses in their specific instrument groups. There is a course competition in which everyone plays a piece they have prepared, and each day a tutor will perform a short piece and talk it through with the children. There will be sessions on particular aspects of brass playing, such as breathing; and on general aspects of musicianship, such as preparing for an exam or an audition (some of our tutors are ABRSM/Trinity examiners).
Children in The Workshop (for Grade 8+ musicians) follow a separate programme, further details of which are given in The Workshop section below.
Alongside our usual course for all brass players, we also run The Workshop during the Summer Course. The Workshop is a separate advanced and intensive course aimed at high level performance for advanced players (Grade 8+).
The Workshop is ideal for those thinking about attending music college or considering a career as a musician, and is a great opportunity to work with world class players and teachers and benefit from their experience.
The Percussion Academy will run alongside our Easter Course for brass players. The Percussion Academy is a specialist course for percussionists aged 8-18 of Grade 3 standard and above.
Even enthusiastic musicians need a break, and so each afternoon we leave the music room and head off for a two hour sports session led by an excellent sports teacher. The children play in their four house teams, and the sessions are designed so that everyone can enjoy them: we play games such as tag rugby, giant rounders, great balls of fire, dodgeball and so on.
When the day participants have gone home, the emphasis of the course switches from music to having a lot of fun with new friends. Each evening there will be activities and games - we usually do a quiz on the first night (in their house teams) to break any ice that remains to be broken; other activities might include outdoor games such as softball rounders or football, a treasure hunt, table tennis etc. Balls, hoops and other equipment for those who want to devise their own entertainment with friends is available: and for those who just want to relax and chat after a busy day – well, they can do that too.
All children aged 8-18 who play a brass instrument and have passed their Grade 1 can attend one of our courses. Musically, children of all abilities are catered for, and children will be placed in small ensembles with others of a similar ability. Masterclasses are held in instrumental groups: so that, for example, in these sessions the trombones will all learn together. The Workshop, a separate advanced and intensive course run in parallel with our regular courses, is aimed at high level performance and is solely for players who have taken their Grade 8 or Diploma.
On each of our courses, there is a competition. This is designed to be relaxed, informal and unintimidating: the children will play in front of a small group of peers, and it is an excellent opportunity for the tutors to hear the children individually and to help them with any particular issues. Finalists from each instrument will be chosen during the masterclass sessions, and the eventual winner will play in the end of course concert.
Our Easter Course 2016 will take place Monday 4th - Friday 8th April at Purcell School, Nr Bushey, Hertfordshire. As well as our usual brass course, we will also be running The Percussion Academy for percussionists. For more information about the Percussion Academy, please click here
Our Summer Course 2016 will run from Monday 1st - Friday 5th August 2016 at Yehudi Menuhin School near Cobham, Surrey, and will include the Workshop for those who have passed their Grade 8 exam or taken their Diploma.
The music played on our courses is a mixture of all the best that brass music can offer, from classical, film and jazz music. To give you an idea of the kind of music the children will be working on, read more to see the music played at the end of course concerts on our last few courses. You can also hear the music from our Summer 2013 and Easter 2014 concerts by clicking the Gallery tab at the top of the page, and then selecting Audio Recordings.
Purcell School suits our needs extremely well. It is the country’s leading specialist music school, and so has all the music facilities we need: and it is relatively small, with everything close to hand, which makes it a friendly and welcoming place to be. The newly built boarding accommodation is outstanding, and as Purcell is a senior school, the bedrooms are for between one and four children - so no huge dorms that do not suit older children and in which younger children are less likely to get a good night's sleep!
The Yehudi Menuhin School is an outstanding music school for string and keyboard young musicians, and has an exceptional reputation. 95% of the school's alumni are in the music profession, and during the past few years, pupils from the School have been the winners, or amongst the finalists, of nearly all major competitions open to pupils of school age.
Your instrument! And a piece of music you have prepared, to play in the competition. A full suggested packing list is sent out ahead of the course, but read on for brief information about what is provided.
£520 residential, £385 day for all Easter Course bookings made before 15 January 2015 and for all Summer course bookings made before 12 May 2015. For bookings after these dates, the cost is £580 residential and £425 day – so there is a 10% discount for booking early.
Some questions crop up over and over again, so here are the answers to some of these frequently asked questions: such as what ages of children come on our courses, how many children are on each course, who will be teaching your child, what the accommodation is like, etc etc. If you need any further help on anything, please do contact us