Music at Wycombe High School

Welcome to the Music department at Wycombe High School! We are proud to offer students a range of musical opportunities and state-of-the-art facilities in our new Music Centre which was built thanks to fundraising by parents, staff, and friends of WHS.

Fantastic facilities

  • Custom-built Music Centre with 2 large teaching rooms, opening into a concert/rehearsal space
  • 9 practice rooms, equipped with pianos and drum kits
  • Computer suite equipped with Sibelius
  • Recording studio
  • Djembes, keyboards, ukuleles, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, harpsichord

Academic success

Every year, our Music students receive offers from top universities and conservatoires. Leaver destinations from the past 3 years include:

  • New College, University of Oxford
  • University of Birmingham
  • Guildhall School of Music and Drama
  • Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance
  • Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

Our exam results also speak for themselves:

  • A level Music 2020: 100% A*-B
  • A level Music 2019: 100% A*-B
  • GCSE Music 2020: 91% 9-5
  • GCSE Music 2019: 87.5% 9-5

Extra-curricular provision

Our musical ensembles are diverse and inclusive, and all students are encouraged to get involved. Music Department concerts and events are exciting highlights in the school calendar where students from all years get to showcase their skill and share the joy of music-making. Please see below for rehearsal timetables and upcoming events.

  • Choirs
  • Orchestra
  • Concert Band
  • Jazz groups
  • Rock bands
  • Guitar ensemble
  • String group
  • Percussion ensemble
  • Chamber ensembles
  • Student-led groups
Concerts & Events
  • Autumn Concert
  • Christmas Concert
  • Carol Service
  • Band Night
  • Musical Production (biennial)
  • Baillie Murphy annual
  • music festival
  • Senior Concert
  • Lower School Concert
  • Jazz Evening
  • Tea Concerts (student recitals)
  • International Music Tour

Curriculum overview

Year 7
Djembe drumming (rhythm, texture, structure), Jazz (scales, improvisation), Minimalism (texture, developing motifs, music technology), Keyboard (notation of pitch and rhythm), Ukulele (chords), Programme Music (instruments of the orchestra, composing)

Year 8
Pop Music (chords, structure, composing), Theme and Variations (development techniques, composing, music technology), Class Band (performance), World Music (cultural appreciation)

Year 9
Musical literacy and composing (rhythm, metre, pitch, keys, chords), European Musical History 1600-1900 (Baroque period, Classical period, Romantic period), DR SMITH Musical Elements (Dynamics & articulation, Rhythm & metre & tempo, Structure, Melody & pitch, Instrumentation, Texture, Harmony & tonality), Film Music (analysis, composition).

GCSE Music (Edexcel)
Performing (solo and ensemble), Composing (free brief and set brief), Appraising (Instrumental music, Vocal music, Music for stage & screen, Fusions).

A level Music (Edexcel)
Performing (with performance mentor), Composing (free brief and Technical Study), Appraising (Instrumental music, Vocal music, Film music, Pop and jazz, Fusions, New Directions)

Our aim as a department is to create a friendly and welcoming atmosphere where students can develop to excellence in whatever area they choose, regardless of their experience before they reach us. We aim to provide musical fun and enrichment to suit all tastes and abilities. 

The young women we are sending on to top conservatoires and Oxbridge are confident, organised leaders with outstanding musical ability, but also an outstanding ability to have fun!

Upcoming music events


03jul1:00 pm4:00 pmSummer Concert 2021Outdoors in the Amphitheatre

Rehearsal timetables


Orchestra (MR1+2)*


Y9 Band (MR1)


Y7-8 Brass (MR2)*
Senior Brass (MR2)*
Y7-8 Band (MR1)*
Senior Jazz (week 1 only)*
Y10-13 Band (MR1+2)*
Rock Bands (practice rooms)


Y9 Musical Theatre (MR1)
Y7-8 Strings (MR2)*
Y9-13 Choir (MR1+2)*


Y7-8 Jazz (MR2)*
Y9 Jazz (MR2)
Y7-8 Choir (MR1+2)*

*Parental permission form required for rehearsals with mixed year groups

Individual music tuition

Private music tuition is available at Wycombe High School for the following instruments / voice:

  • Flute
  • Oboe
  • Clarinet / Saxophone
  • Bassoon
  • Violin / Viola
  • All brass instruments
  • Voice
  • Piano
  • Cello
  • Drum kit / percussion
  • Classic guitar

All individual music lessons are taught by well-qualified, experienced and successful private tutors. They are able to teach students from beginner’s level to Grade VIII and beyond.  In the case of some instruments, there is more than one teacher.  Unfortunately, we cannot allocate teachers on a preference basis unless your daughter is already being taught by that teacher at primary school or elsewhere.

Most of the private music tutors teach individual lessons of 30 minutes duration.  Fees are charged per term and are invoiced directly by the teacher.

To sign up for individual music lessons, please first read the information below before completing the online Application Form for Individual Music Tuition.

For 2021-2022, 10 x 30 minute individual, private lessons will cost £190 per term.  Please note that these will not necessarily be evenly spread throughout the terms due to different term lengths. 

Additional information

The demand for tuition in some instruments is sometimes more than we can cater for, but we will endeavour to provide the tuition requested.  Should your daughter be unable to start lessons immediately, we will place her on a waiting list.  It will therefore help us if you could return the application form as soon as possible so that the music staff can work out the hours they may be required to teach in school. The waiting lists usually work through in the course of the year; again this depends on demand.  When allocating lessons we will give preference to those students who are already having lessons.

Should your daughter be really keen to start an instrument, she should consider other instruments where there may be immediate vacancies – and places in bands and orchestras. 

We would welcome bassoon players, brass players and cello players in particular, all of which may also be taken up by girls who have already started to play other instruments.  Please consider them as a very serious alternative.  We really do need a wider range of instrumental players.

If you do not already own an instrument, please do not go out and purchase one until your daughter’s instrumental teacher has given you some advice about schemes available in the area. 

However, if your daughter is learning to play the piano, it is important that she is able to practise on one at home – keyboards are not ideal.  All students in Years 7 and 8 use keyboards in their timetabled music lessons. A digital piano with 88 weighted, touch-sensitive keys is the best alternative to a piano.

Lessons are taught on a rota basis with students coming out of their school lessons at a different time each week.  This means that they will miss a different lesson each week and should not, therefore, experience difficulty catching up with missed work.

It is not always possible to allocate a fixed lesson time at lunchtimes for students in Years 7-11. 

Students must bring their Student Planners to their instrumental lessons in order to write down their lesson times.  They must show their Student Planner to their subject teachers when excusing themselves from lessons.

If your daughter is going to miss a music lesson due to illness, please inform the teacher directly (via the teacher’s email address) as the school is unable to take responsibility for passing on messages.  The instrumental staff will be as accommodating as possible when completing the correct number of lessons.

However, they must be given adequate notice if girls are going to miss lessons other than through illness, for example school visits, appointments, planned tests / examinations or controlled assessments.  Please inform the instrumental / vocal teacher in advance if you know your daughter is unable to attend her lesson.  Unfortunately, forgetting to attend a lesson is not a viable excuse.

You will receive a bill for private lessons at the start of each term, including details of how to pay.  You are asked to settle the bill promptly; if there are any difficulties in settling your bill, please get in touch directly with the instrumental teacher as alternative arrangements may be available.

Should your daughter wish to stop having private lessons, one whole term’s notice must be given in writing to the private teacher.  Failure to give notice within these timescales will result in a full term’s fees being payable.

Your daughter’s private teacher will advise her as to what she should be practising, how this practice should be done and what amount of time she should be spending on it. 

Regular, well-structured practice sessions are essential if progress is to be made; a short, frantic burst the night before a lesson will prove fruitless.

Attendance at lessons is monitored closely and you will be notified if your daughter is missing lessons for no apparent reason. Effective use of Student Planners helps the girls to remember.

Unless informed otherwise, private music teachers will enter students for examinations when they are adequately prepared.  You will be informed of this by your daughter’s teacher.

Once your daughter is ready she will be expected to join our instrumental groups, according to instrument and ability.  We expect a high level of participation from students who have lessons in school.  Choirs are available for all, from the start of Year 7.

Girls who have lessons outside school, privately or at organisations such as Chiltern Music Academy and High Wycombe Music Centre, should come and join in too.  Concerts, festivals, competitions, Carol Service, musicals and music tours are part of the life of the Music Department.  In addition, we perform concerts in High Wycombe and the surrounding area.

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