- Key Stage 3 (Years 7, 8 & 9)
- Key Stage 4 (Years 10 & 11)
- Key Stage 5 (Years 12 & 13)
The music department at St Alban’s is one of the busiest in the school and plays a central role to its ethos and life.
The department has an enviable proven track record of successfully preparing pupils for the study of music at conservatoire/university. During the last few years, pupils have continued their studies of music at destinations such as the universities of Oxford, Oxford Brookes, Bath Spa, York, Southampton, Goldsmiths, Cardiff, Birmingham, ACM, GSA, Chetham’s School of Music, The Royal College of Music, London, Birmingham Conservatoire, The Royal Northern College of Music and Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
Over one hundred pupils receive weekly tuition and are prepared for ABRSM/Trinity/LCM music exams by an exceptional team of peripatetic staff; many of whom are professional performers.
The extra-curricular programme at St Alban’s is highly successful and membership of the school choirs is well in excess of one hundred pupils. Choral and musical theatre singing are particular strengths and our international award winning senior choir is regularly invited to perform at concerts in the locality.
Lower School Choir have performed at Disneyland Paris every year for the last five years and are one of only a handful of choirs that are exempt from having to audition to perform in the theme park. Since 2007, Senior Choir have toured to Prague, Barcelona, Warsaw, Holland and New York. They undertake a busy schedule of annual concerts and were awarded the ‘Award of the Head of the Jury’ at the Warsaw International Choral; Festival in 2008. The music department competes annually in the Pontypool Inter School Eisteddfod and has won the event for the last five years.
We are very fortunate at St Alban’s in that the school very generously heavily subsidises peripatetic tuition for pupils wishing to learn to play a musical instrument. Pupils are required to make a small contribution towards lessons of £20 per half term. Or outstanding team of peripatetic staff (mostly provided by Gwent Music Support Service) offer highly specialised tuition to pupils across the school whether they are advanced players or beginners. Lessons are delivered in the recording studio, C10 or the small practice room. Musical disciplines currently on offer are: piano, voice, harp, woodwind, brass, strings, drum kit and guitar.
All members of peripatetic staff prepare pupils for exams with one or more of the following exam boards: Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, Trinity and London College of Music. Exam results are consistently high and are regularly reviewed. Each member of staff completes a timetable at least one week in advance which is displayed on the notice board outside C15 and in the teaching rooms. All pupils receive an annual report and are expected to participate in an extra-curricular music ensemble.
We are a very well-travelled department and since 2006 have undertaken eighteen concert tours abroad. Our lower school choir has performed in Disneyland every year since 2006 in the Lucky Nugget Saloon, Fantasy Festival Stage and Videopolis Arena.
Our international award winning senior choir competed in the Warsaw International Choral Festival during 2008 and was awarded the ‘Award of the Head of the Jury’ by Professor Romauld Twardowski.
Our instrumentalists and international award winning senior choir have performed in the following locations:
- 2007 Prague: St Nicholas Church; St Anne’s Church, Karlovy Vary; and a Retirement home in Prague.
- 2008 Barcelona: Sagrada Familia; Church of the Immaculate Conception; Community Theatre, Barcelona.
- 2008 Warsaw: Warsaw Cathedral; Chopin Conservatoire
- 2009 Holland: Church at Noordwijk; Delft Cathedral; Retirement home in Amsterdam.
- 2010 New York: St Paul’s Chapel, Ground Zero; United Nations
- 2012 Normandy: Barberville, St Aubin-sur-Mer,
- 2013 Holland: Noordwijk and Delft
- 2015 Barcelona
Lower School Choir rehearses after school on Tuesdays until 4pm. The choir tours annually to perform in Disneyland Paris and typically numbers between sixty to one hundred pupils from years 7-9. The choir also performs at the Christmas Carol Service, summer concert and other occasional events.
Liturgical music opportunities for year 7 to take part and perform vocally in include the nativity Follow That Star every year. This takes place in the last week of the Autumn Term and parents are invited to come and watch. The Easter story is also told through a performance of Resurrection Rock which takes place each Spring term.
A recent addition to our extra-curricular timetable was established last summer when we decided to put on a full scale production of Cats. Even though the production was ‘overseen’ by the music department, everything including the production, direction, choreography and lighting/sound was designed by the pupils. Cats was to be a one-off but, following the very positive response to the show, we have decided to repeat the experience by putting on Les Miserables this year.
Vocal work shops are often offered to singers in Years 11 or above. This year we have run a course in belt quality and vocal anatomy. This is in addition to the opportunities to sit the LCM Music Theatre grades; a pursuit in which we have been very successful.
Orchestra rehearses after school on Mondays until 4pm. Membership consists of pupils having peripatetic instrumental tuition in school and anyone who enjoys making music with others. Orchestra rehearse a wide range of music and beginners are always welcome. Orchestra always perform at the summer concert.
Senior Choir rehearse every day in C15 during registration. Membership is drawn from pupils in Years 8 upwards who enjoy singing a diverse and often challenging programme of music.
The choir undertakes a busy schedule of concerts and regularly performs at a variety of venues which most recently include: Glen-Yr-Afon Hotel in Usk, St Hilda’s Church in Griffithstown, Cwmbran town centre, Royal Albert Hall, St David’s Hall and Pontypool town centre. Our regular annual concerts include the Light up a Life service at Llantarnam Abbey, Christmas service at Horeb chapel in Trinant, St Alban’s Award’s Evening at the Congress Theatre, Christmas Carol Service and summer concert at the Congress Theatre.
Music Theatre Club open to all sixth formers wishing to sit Music Theatre exams. These exams attract UCAS points and during the last year, nearly 90% of all students who sat the exams gained distinctions-most of them at Grade 8. Several students have also successfully passed performance diplomas.
Staff Choir (on an ad hoc basis) rehearse in C15 during morning break on Tuesdays. The choir have performed at St Alban’s Awards Evening and are preparing to perform at the staff retreat at Belmont Abbey in July.
A variety of instrumental groups sometimes perform at concerts and events throughout the year. A Welsh folk group sometimes rehearse to perform at concerts when required and always reform for the foreign tours.