Classes, ensembles and choirs.

String, Brass and Woodwind and Percussion Ensembles


Until year 8 all students must sing in a choir, play in an ensemble and take a supporting studies class. Older musicians may choose from one or more of the options below. It is usual to take at least three classes.

Ensemble playing is fundamental to SCYM. Students are grouped into chamber ensembles according to their current performance grade, from absolute beginner to advanced.


  • Prelude Strings is for string players from absolute beginners from age 6. Children are taught ensemble, technique and note reading skills in a small group.
  • Junior Strings is a group for players who have reached approximately grade 1. The focus is on ensemble skills, the development of reading notation, practical musicianship and consolidation of good technique.
  • Intermediate Strings is for players who are grade 3 to 5.
  • Senior Strings is tutored by members of Britten Sinfonia and is for players who are approximately grade 6 and above.
  • Chamber Groups for String & Keyboard Players is for auditioned chamber groups.
  • Cello Ensemble is for players who have reached grade 7 and above.
  • Wind Bands  is for wind and brass players from grade 1 to 4 and are for core curriculum students
  • Wind Ensemble is for wind players from grade 4 and above and is for core curriculum students.
  • Recorder Ensemble is currently for young and beginner recorder players, although more experienced players are welcome.
  • Tuned Percussion is an ensemble for students who are at least grade 5 on orchestral percussion, or for pianists who play to grade 6 and above who would like to play in an ensemble at SCYM. We have marimba, vibes and an array of percussion to learn on.
  • Percussion Ensemble is for younger students who are first study percussion or drums, or piano and voice. This group also plays tuned orchestral percussion, as well as enjoying a ‘Stomp’ style of percussion ensemble

Jazz Ensembles 

  • The Jazz Ensemble is small group for musicians who are already familiar with jazz harmony and improvising, and who play trumpet, trombone, sax, bass, drums or piano to a minimum of grade 5 and above.  This is a non-auditioned ensemble for full and core curriculum SCYM students, as well as students who wish to take the ensembles only option. This group rehearses from 12.45 until 2.15 every Saturday and is taught by Dan Forshaw.
  • Jazz Musicians. One group for the absolute beginner in jazz, led by James Free, and a small group for the developing jazz musicians led by James Mayhew.  Students are taught the rudiments of jazz theory, and learn how to improvise and play in the jazz idiom. All instrumentalists who are playing at grade 4 and  above are welcome in these groups, with some progressing on to the jazz ensemble when spaces become available.

Singing & Vocal Training

Singing is our bedrock and taking part in a choir is compulsory at SCYM until a student reaches year 8.  Great performances, rehearsals, auditions and exam results depend on good sight-reading and musicianship, and singing in a choir makes for greater awareness of group responsibility, co-operation and leadership. It is also the perfect opportunity to mix with other students from outside their own instrumental groups. Choirs are led by Mish Kelly and Felicity Hamilton with Alastair Chilvers accompanying. We currently run three choirs; prelude, junior & senior as well as two close harmony groups for the more dedicated vocalist.

  • Kodaly Class is a 45 minute class is for young children aged 4 to 7, and starts at 9.30, 10.30 or 11.30 depending on the level of experience with Kodaly method.  The Kodaly method teaches children to develop their inner ear using singing and rhythm games. Children learn to keep pulse, recognise meter, develop rhythm, and hear and sing pitch and harmony.This can be taken as a ‘stand alone’ class and not part of the core curriculum. To learn more about the Kodaly teaching method, you can visit the Kodaly Academy website:
  • Close Harmony Group and A Capella groups are is a small vocal close harmony group for more experienced singers, covering popular music repertoire.

General Musicianship, Composition and Supporting Studies 

Musicianship classes at SCYM help students develop the skills they need to improve their music making by consolidating their understanding of basic music theory.  Musicianship classes are taught using practical work, improvisation, reading and listening.

For older students our history and musical awareness class is very popular, as are the composition, music production and DJ classes. All of which can be taught as in individual lesson if required.

Some classes are specifically used to enable students to achieve Grade 5 Theory, and are available to students who play their instrument to grade 4 standard and above. Others offer support for those taking GCSE, AS and A2 exams. The Musicianship Department can also prepare students for the grade exam 6 to 8 aural tests.