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Frequently Asked Questions

Learn to sing or play an instrument

Making a smart choice is important if your son aims to join one of our amazing performance groups. Choosing a less common instrument is the key, as there is intense competition on some instruments, but easier pathways on others. For instance, alto saxophone is very popular but there are only 6 positions for alto between our Big Band and Premier Concert Band. Therefore, if you are not in the top 6 you cannot join a senior performance group.

However, instruments such as the oboe, bassoon, French horn, euphonium, tuba and double bass are fantastic instruments but less common, mainly because they are more expensive. If you are good on one of these instruments, you will be welcomed with open arms.

A comprehensive description of the different instrument options is detailed on our website for your information; please take the time to read through these.

It may be possible to hire an instrument through the School (subject to availability). There is a non-refundable annual instrument hire charge of $100, which will be charged via the Parent Portal.

There are many opportunities to become involved in one of Grammar’s performance groups. Our Music staff would be very keen to run through the options with your son at the beginning of Term 1 if they are still unsure of which instrument to learn.

Opportunities for beginner students are provided on all instruments except for piano, drum-kit and guitar (subject to availability).

Our itinerant lessons have a non-refundable, annual administration fee of $125. This fee is charged via the Parent Portal. Professional private teachers often charge in access of $60 per hour.

We have a limited stock of more unusual, expensive instruments (such as the oboe, bassoon, French horn, euphonium and tuba). Students who learn any of these instruments will find it easier to secure a place in one of our performance groups as there is less competition.

We also have limited stock of instruments such as the cello, viola, flute and trombone. More common instruments (like the clarinet, trumpet and saxophone) can be hired from local music shops.

We can provide advice regarding private hire options. As your son’s ability and confidence improves, the entry-level instruments we supply may no longer meet his needs.

At this stage your son’s teacher may contact you to encourage you to purchase or hire a more appropriate instrument from a music store

An annual (non-refundable) instrument hire charge of $100 will be charged via the Parent Portal.

Subject to availability, students will have access to the school instrument only after an Instrument Hire Agreement has been completed by the student and parent/caregiver, and the form has been returned to the Music administrator. The instrument hire may be terminated if adequate progress in learning the instrument is not being maintained.

Please note: The hirer is responsible for purchasing consumables such as strings, rosin, reeds, valve oil etc. as needed (or replaced at the request of an Itinerant music teacher). These items are not available through the School, but can be purchased from a retail Music store at the hirer’s cost.

You will receive an email notification when music lessons for your son have been timetabled.

Sometimes it is necessary to place students on a ‘waitlist’ until a space becomes available in a suitable group. It is in the best interests of the Music Department to accommodate lessons for students as soon as possible.

When enrolling your son for Itinerant music lessons, you are committing to lessons for the remainder of that school year. In Term 4, parents will be emailed an invitation to re-enrol their son for lessons in the forthcoming year. Should a student wish to discontinue his music lessons, a parent/caregiver must notify the Music Administrator via email at j.mackenzie@ags.school.nz and their respective Itinerant music teacher as soon as possible. The administration fee will not be refunded.

We are rarely able to offer individual lessons on any instrument due to funding limits but sometimes spaces can be found for advanced students preparing for external examinations.

We encourage private lessons as a next step for students who have begun learning in our school group lessons. Your teacher should be able to recommend some suitable options for you.

Class size varies from one class to the next, but an average guide of between two and four students is common.

Music lessons are mainly timetabled during the school day due to teacher availability. In a few instances, lessons may run before and/or after school or during lunchtimes (according to teacher availability).

Lesson times are rotated weekly to minimise the disruption to curriculum classes. Students are expected to be proactive in managing missed classwork.

A great many of our best academic students are excellent musicians who miss classes for music lessons.

The instrument lesson is regarded as an important part of your son’s school curriculum. A range of studies shows many benefits in learning an instrument, both cognitively and in well-being.

We recommend taking a photo of a friend’s notes, checking for homework and asking a teacher for help when necessary.

To ensure fairness to all students, any available lesson times outside of classroom hours are rotated weekly (according to teacher availability).

Music lesson timetables are emailed to parents/caregivers and to each student at their School email address before the start of each term. The timetables are also displayed on the Music department noticeboard, on the School website, and via GrammarNet (Extracurricular > Co-curricular Music).

Students should check their relevant timetable the day before their lesson each week for changes. Changes to a music lesson timetable may also be communicated via assembly notices or email.

Due to funding and space constraints, we can only offer tuition in small groups.

Since it is impossible to have 3-4 students learning piano/keyboard at the same time, we cannot offer these lessons. Pianists are encouraged to learn a different instrument at School and many of our best pianists also play a second instrument which enables them to play with School orchestras and bands.

Students seeking beginner piano/keyboard lessons will need to make arrangements with a private teacher outside of School.

It is expected that students should notify both their lesson teacher and the Music Administrator (via email at j.mackenzie@ags.school.nz) for any planned or unplanned absences. In some instances it may be possible to reschedule lesson times for planned absences.

Students excuse themselves verbally from class five minutes before their scheduled music lesson. Upon arrival to the Music department, students must use the Gatekeeper sign-in/sign-out system to register their music lesson attendance each week. A music staff member will be happy to assist your son with this if necessary.

Students are required to sign in before their music lesson starts, and then sign out once their lesson is completed. The Gatekeeper system will provide a receipt, which can then be used to explain an absence to a curriculum teacher. A central attendance record is collected and correct use of the Gatekeeper system is monitored.

If your son has any issue with exiting class to attend his music lesson, please contact the Music Administrator at j.mackenzie@ags.school.nz.

Students who forget their instruments should visit the Music department before their lesson to see if a replacement instrument is available for use. Students are required to inform their music teacher if they are unable to take their lesson.

Students may be required to get specific resources in some instances. You will be notified of this and any charges will be uploaded onto the Parent Portal.

tudents will be encouraged to sit external examinations when and where appropriate.

You will be responsible for enrolling your son in the relevant examination, and for any costs and logistics.

Your son should express their interest in sitting external examinations to their music teacher.

Students may wish to play a second instrument for a variety of reasons. We encourage students to consider their commitments carefully before they decide. Please note that it is highly unlikely that students will be able to learn more than one instrument through School due to high demand for lessons.

This is really dependent on individual music taste, and the personal goals of a musician. A comprehensive description of the different instrument options is detailed on our website for your information. It is also worth considering what groups you may be able to play in.

ur Itinerant Music Scheme is designed to maintain and develop musicians for our Performance Music Groups: Jazz Combo, Big Band, Grammar Voices, Grammarphonics, Symphony Orchestra, Premier Concert Band, Grammar Virtuosi, or Wind Band.

The demand for guitar lessons far outweighs the opportunities we can provide through our official Performance Music Groups, as Big Band and Jazz Combo are the only suitable performance groups for guitarists. This, together with our limited funding, means that it is unfortunately unjustifiable for us to offer guitar lessons. We would encourage you to talk to your son about learning a different instrument at School.

Students seeking beginner guitar lessons will need to make arrangements with a private teacher outside of School. Guitarists can (subject to availability) enrol for lessons if taking Music as an Option, from Form 4 upwards.

We do wish to support wherever possible, students who have invested time and effort into achieving a high standard of musicianship. Head of Music Mr Wasson would be happy to discuss suitable pathways and performance opportunities for your son during their time at Auckland Grammar School.

Although we cannot offer guitar/keyboard/drum-kit lessons, we do wish to support wherever possible, students who have invested time and effort into achieving a high standard of musicianship. Head of Music Mr Wasson would be happy to discuss suitable pathways and performance opportunities for your son during their time at Auckland Grammar School.

We would also encourage you to talk to your son about learning a different instrument at School. Many of our best musicians play a second instrument to enable them to play with School orchestras and bands.

We are interested in identifying talented guitarists who may wish to audition for our Jazz Programme (the Big Band and the Jazz Combo). Alternatively, they can become involved with friends in a student-led Rock group through our Contemporary Music Development Scheme (please refer to the FAQs for more information about this scheme).

Due to funding constraints, we can only offer group tuition through our Itinerant Music scheme. This means that it is impossible to offer drum-kit lessons which require individual tuition. However, please keep in mind that students who enrol for Option Music from Form 4 will be given priority for drum-kit lessons (subject to availability).

We do wish to support wherever possible, students who have invested time and effort into achieving a high standard of musicianship. Head of Music Mr Wasson would be happy to discuss suitable pathways and performance opportunities for your son during their time at Auckland Grammar School.

Orchestral percussion is a great way to become involved in a performance group. Students are taken through the various percussion instruments in a fun lesson setting. The ability to read music is a pre-requisite for these lessons. Drummers of all styles are encouraged to make inquiries.

Alternatively, the School’s highly acclaimed Pipe Band would warmly welcome new drummers into their Corps of Drums section. Snare, tenor and bass drums lessons are available for students who wish to extend their drumming repertoire by learning the specialist techniques necessary for the Corps of Drums.

Alternatively, they can become involved with friends in a student-led Rock group through our Contemporary Music Development Scheme (please refer to the FAQs for more information about this scheme).

We wish to encourage and nurture all young musicians at Auckland Grammar School. If your son is a vocalist, or already plays drums, electric/bass guitar or keyboard, the best support we can offer is by creating an environment in which bands can form and flourish. Please note that the Contemporary Music Development Scheme is for students who own and already play an instrument (even to a basic level) and is not a substitute for lessons.

The Contemporary Music Development Scheme offers students:

– Support in forming a Band (please note that this will be limited by the number of available bass players)
– A weekly timetabled rehearsal room
– Equipment such as drum-kit, keyboard, amplification and mixing hub
– A staff or senior student mentor (subject to availability)
– A lesson each term with our Contemporary Music teacher
– Performance opportunities such as lunchtime performances and Battle of The Bands, competing for the Cameron Wilson Award for Best Band
– Workshop on digital promotion and marketing strategies
– Encouragement to create original music and to enter Rockquest and Play It Strange songwriting competitions

Students should speak to Head of Music Mr Wasson if they are interested in participating in the Contemporary Music Development Scheme.

Student progress is graded on a weekly basis. Requests for term by term progress can be obtained via the respective music teacher or from the music administrator.

You will be contacted by your son’s Itinerant music teacher if your son is not making good progress. A Progress and Final report will be provided to you towards the end of Term 2 and Term 3 respectively.

Learning music can be a very valuable activity for students with learning difficulties, but it can also be frustrating. Setting a goal for learning will help your son decide what lessons to take.

If your son intends to pursue further education and a career in Music, learning to be literate in music will be a big advantage.

If your son wants to learn music for enjoyment, then Head of Music Mr Wasson would be happy to discuss suitable pathways and performance opportunities for your son during their time at Auckland Grammar School.

There is a lot of evidence to suggest that learning to read and write music by playing an instrument will help improve processing of sounds and symbols, and potentially help to overcome challenges in other, similar, processes like language. If this is your son’s goal, be sure to discuss this openly with the instrumental teacher so they can give you the best help they can.

Students will be placed in a group with others of similar ability. Your son should talk to their music teacher about forming a group with friends – they might be able to help.

Play in a music group

There are opportunities for the more accomplished pianists to accompany groups such as the Choirs, Big Band, Premier Concert Band, and Symphony Orchestra. Various Chamber groups provide opportunities for students at all levels of the school, and the string orchestra, Grammar Virtuosi, uses a harpsichord.

We have had a number of very successful pianists who have learnt a second instrument and this should be encouraged. This has allowed the students to play in a greater number of groups, but has also been beneficial for their development on piano as well.

Grammar has two prestigious annual music competitions suitable for accomplished pianists:

> The Form 3 Piano Cup is our showcase for Form 3 students at Auckland Grammar School who will compete, perform, and participate in a Masterclass

> The Minister’s Plate and Junior Music Plate Competitions recognise the achievement of the finest solo instrumentalists at Auckland Grammar School in any given year. Three finalists from each of the Senior and Junior competitions compete for their respective plates.

All students are encouraged and are expected to join a suitable ensemble group when a particular competency has been obtained.

Priority in lesson allocation will be given to those students who are members of music ensembles.

A link to enrol your son for a Music group can be found on the Play in a Music Group page of the website (enrolments will be open from Term 4). Parents should register their son via the online form if they will be new to the School and would like to join a music group, or if they would like to be considered for a different music group in the forthcoming year. Once registered, students will be requested to:

– Prepare a short solo piece that demonstrates their playing ability
– Record and submit a short video for Auckland Grammar staff to review by the due date (if your son plays more than one instrument, combined performances can be included in one video submission).

Please note that your son may be asked to play in person (in early Term 1).

Students who require further information about joining a music group should speak to their music teacher or contact the appropriate group director in Term 4.

Representing Auckland Grammar is an honour, and exemplary standards in preparation, punctuality and performance are expected of every member.

All groups perform competitively so members must be fully committed to rehearsals, learning their parts thoroughly, and making good progress throughout the year.

There are many performance opportunities for performance groups at Grammar. These include, but are not limited to:

> Performance Days
> The annual KBB Music Festival
> Winter Concert Series
> Regional and National competitions

As representatives of Auckland Grammar School, all performance group members are required to maintain a high standard of dress at all times.

All performance music groups members require a music uniform comprising of the following:

Music blazer, school tie, white shirt, black trousers, black socks, and polished black shoes (except where there is a specific performance uniform, ie. Pipe Band). All items are available for purchase at the School’s Uniform shop.

Students are to discuss the uniform requirements with their Performance Director if they are unsure.