Music at Crossley Heath

Music is a central element of school life whether it is supporting our formal events, providing valuable enrichment activity for students at lunch and after school or acting as a social network for pupils – the music department is always a busy place.

Why Music?

Music combines exciting practical activity with the rigour of a complex academic subject. It is:

  • Good for school work – a wide number of studies have found that those studying music enjoy higher academic achievement than their peers. In particular, music develops mathematical, spacial and linguistic skills and develops our ability for ‘deep’ thinking.
  • Social – music is a great way to meet friends and many pupils meet lifelong friends through our school ensembles. Much music is based on speech patterns and aids language development. Music offers opportunities to develop the interpersonal skills and teamwork employers and universities value in later life.
  • Good for health – music is good for relieving stress, balancing mood and improving cognitive ability. Playing an instrument develops fine motor skills and can help students with speech and breathing problems.Good for character – music develops self-motivation, patience, discipline and demonstrates the ability to persevere with something for a prolonged period of time and improve oneself. Musicians who have contributed heavily to school life demonstrate commitment and good time management skills and are therefore highly valued.
  • It’s fun! – the most important point. Music should be an enjoyable activity that pupils can benefit from for the rest of their life (when was the last time you heard someone say ‘I wish I’d learned to play…’).

In addition, music is ‘highly regarded’ by Russell Group universities (like Oxford/Bristol/Leeds) due to the wide range of skills it develops and the consistent commitment shown by those participating in music at a high level.

The Curriculum

All students study music in year 7 and 8 after which it becomes a GCSE and A-level option. We have a strong system of peripatetic instrumental teachers who can provide in school tuition for most instruments and we run a wide range of ensembles pupils can join to develop their playing.


Classes study a range of musical styles from classical to pop to world music as well as learning to play the keyboard and guitar. The department has full class sets of guitars and tuned percussion, a keyboard lab, a range of classroom percussion and a full music technology suite equipped with Sibelius, Guitar Pro and Cubase software. We have a number of practice rooms with electric guitars, pianos and drumkits and, where possible, these are made available at break/lunch and after/before school for pupils to use

Instrumental Lessons

Playing a musical instrument has many benefits including enhanced academic performance, the development of self-discipline, motor skills and problem solving skills and the opportunity to meet other pupils. Most importantly, playing an instrument is an enjoyable experience which will stay with your son/daughter for life.

We have a highly talented and enthusiastic team of peripatetic teachers who are skilled at preparing pupils for exams, whether ABRSM/Trinity or GCSE and A-level music exams or at just teaching for fun. Meet the team on the Meet the Music Department page. We currently offer tuition in the following instruments:

FluteDouble BassAcoustic Guitar
ClarinetTrumpetElectric/Bass Guitar
ViolinTenor HornElectric Keyboard

Starting Instrumental Lessons:

Please complete the online form below in order to start instrumental lessons. Please complete the form in full as we cannot process partially complete applications (especially if missing a name). Once complete we will automatically arrange for your son/daughter to start lessons at the beginning of the next full term – assume they have been accommodated unless you hear otherwise. In the rare event we cannot accommodate a student we will contact you.

Starting instrumental lessons – please follow this link (please fully read the terms and conditions document on this page): Instrumental music lessons

Please see our Terms and Conditions.

Cancellation of lessons (please note we require 6 weeks notice before the start of a new term) – please follow the link below: Lesson cancellation

Supporting your Child

We will offer advice as to how best to support your son/daughter via parents’ evenings, practise diaries and via this page. We would ask parents that they support their son/daughter in the following ways:

  • In practising regularly for at least 10mins a day and 20 mins a day if they want to make any real progress (many pupils practise more, although quantity should depend on age and experience).
  • In persevering with their instrument – like any complex skill there are peaks and troughs in progression and there will be moments of frustration (I am now very glad I was encouraged to persevere with my violin despite regularly falling out of love with it when younger!)
  • In encouraging your son/daughter to participate in school ensembles as these are a really good way of adding value to lessons and developing slightly different aspects of musical understanding.
  • In liaising regularly with your son/daughter’s teacher via the practise diary.

Advice on Practise

The best practise will be regular and often – 20 mins a day is a good starting point and any less will not lead to significant process. Whilst playing a piece through is useful, the best practise will start with a mix of scales or other technical warm-ups before concentrating on repeating the most difficult sections of a piece, at first at a speed that is playable and then working up to the correct speed – it is important to learn a piece correctly.

If practise is getting overly repetitive, encourage a break or a change of piece. It is useful for pupils to perform in public regularly, even if this is just in front of friends and relatives.

Bursaries and other support

We are committed to trying to support as many pupils as possible who want to access music. We are currently investigating the option of offering ‘shortage’ instrument lessons at a reduced rate (subsidised by the music department) in rarer instruments, however we will not be in a financial position to do this before 2017. Other forms of financial support for educational activities are available. Please contact Mrs Heaton, The Headteacher’s PA in the first instance.

There are a small number of charities and other organisations which support musicians through the award of bursaries and scholarships. The school has been active in putting forward musical pupils for the future heroes awards over the past few years and many of our pupils have been awarded bursaries to support new instruments of tuition. We urge all parents to make use of the assisted purchase scheme (contact for more details) whereby parents can purchase instruments through school without paying VAT.

In addition, there are a small number of charities and other organisations who offer financial support for young musicians:

FUTURE TALENT (a range of bursaries for school aged pupils)

NOEL (Future Heroes scheme run through secondary school music departments)

School Ensembles

The school runs a number of ensembles which are kept busy with engagements throughout the school year. These are a really good way of pupils forming lasting friendships whilst developing their playing. Whilst ensembles require commitment, this reflects well on pupils and develops valuable life skills. It’s also really good fun to make music with your friends! We are adding a number of new ensembles in 2016 in order to ensure all pupils have a group they can access.

School Choir (open to all)

The school choir performs a range of repertoire in 3/4 parts from classic choir pieces to recent pop songs. We have even performed songs arranged by members of the group.

School Wind Band (open to wood wind, brass and percussion players, grade 4 and above)

Our senior instrumental group, the wind band is responsible for providing much of the music for our formal school events. It plays a mix of film music, pop arrangements and band classics.

Junior Band (*NEW* open to all woodwind, brass and percussion players)

The junior band is a chance for pupils to develop their ensemble playing in a supportive environment. In 2016 it will start as a year 7 only group and expand from there, acting as a feeder group for the senior wind band and will do some joint performances with this group.

String group (open to all string players)

The string group plays a range of music from folk pieces to rock songs to well-known classical pieces, all with a focus on developing string playing technique.

Electric guitar group/Rock School (*NEW* open to electric guitar, bass guitar, keyboard players and drummers – also open to pupil formed bands)

Thursday is given over to bands in the music department. Whilst Mr Sykora runs an electric guitar group which write their own music and learn improvisation and song writing skills, pupil bands have the first option on the use of music department resources and can ask Mr Sykora or each other for guidance and advice.

Theory Support (open to all pupils having peripatetic lessons in school and GCSE students as advised)

In order to support pupils having music lessons at the school there is lunchtime theory support available, half the year aimed at supporting beginners, half the year supporting pupils approaching grade 5 in order to access higher level exams.

Piano club (open to all pianists/keyboard players)

A pupil run group (we are proud of the maturity and musical ability of our senior pupils), the piano group gives piano/keyboard players a valuable opportunity to play before each other, share ideas and play ensemble pieces and duets.

Acoustic/Classical guitar group (*NEW* open to all classical/acoustic guitar players)

Another pupil run group, this group performs a range of repertoire catering for guitarists of all abilities. In addition, our guitar teacher, Mr McAndrew, often forms groups from pupils having lessons in school.

Curtain Appreciation Club

The Curtain Appreciation Club developed out of our last show (Hairspray) with many pupils wanting to continue singing together and so they formed their own glee society which meets regularly.

GCSE support (open to GSCE pupils and those with an interest in using our music technology resources)

Of a lunchtime our music technology facilities are usually open and, when staff are available, they will support pupils working on their GCSE compositions (or just using the facilities for their own enjoyment).

Events and Opportunities

There are a number of regular performance opportunities for pupils in school, either as soloists (particularly when in upper years) or as members of school ensembles. Our groups perform in our Prize Giving ServiceCarol Service, at our Craft Fayre, in our Summer Concert and Arts Evening.

The end of the year is dominated by House Music, where the different houses in the school compete in a number of categories including solo competitions, ensembles and house choirs. The evening ends with the all singing all dancing house open – a highlight for many 6th formers (and staff).

We have regularly participated in Opera workshops and visits through Opera North (the most recent of which was the Bartered Bride) whilst this year has seen the RAF band visit the school to perform to pupils in year 8 and those doing GCSE. We are keen to establish musical links with local primary schools and many of our pupils have had the opportunity to visit local primary schools and perform acting as role models for the next generation of musicians.