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Music At Rishworth

  • Music At Rishworth
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Standards of musicianship are exceptionally high, commitment from pupils is both deep and widespread, and a very large proportion of students enjoy individual instrumental tuition with the School’s gifted team of specialist Visiting Music Staff.

Departmental Accommodation

The Music Department occupies a detached two-floor building to the north west of the school site. The building, known as ‘The Chan School of Music’ contains a number of classroom teaching spaces alongside practice and instrumental tuition rooms. Built in the 1960s, the building was funded by a gift from John Chan whose children attended the School. The building was formally opened by renowned conductor, Sir Adrian Boult.

Choirs, Bands and Ensembles

Music is a social activity. There are a number of opportunities for individual and group music making, and pupils who wish to take part in the extra-curricular musical life of the school are given as much support and encouragement as possible. As well as those learning in school, pupils learning instruments outside of school are encouraged to attend. The opportunities that are offered at any one time will be tailored to the interests and skills of the pupils within the School at that time but include and have included:


Choir: There are all sorts of opportunities to sing at Rishworth. The Choir rehearses regularly and tackles a wide variety of repertoire. Pupils are encouraged to sing and read music, usually in four parts. Performances take place in and out of school and the choir leads the worship at Chapel services. Other opportunities to sing include ensembles such as ‘Voces’, with a very different repertoire.


Concert Band is open to all woodwind and brass players. The band plays a variety of marches, classical transcriptions, film music and music from the shows. Rehearsals take place on Mondays, after school.


Funk Band has a jazz and popular song repertoire that brings together instrumentalists and vocals.


String Ensemble is a relatively new group open to all string players and covers a wide range of repertoire and styles.


Percussion Ensemble is a hugely popular group, attracting many of the pupils who take individual drum and percussion lessons.


Guitar Ensemble is in great demand in and around the school and performs a huge variety of music, from classical to jazz and pop.


Rock School was set up to coach various student bands and has been a great success, with regular performances in assemblies and in ‘Rock in the Quad’ during the summer term.


Composing Club takes place after school on Fridays and is open to anyone with an interest in creating their own music. Use is made of the Mixcraft and Sibelius computer software.

Performance Opportunities

Concerts take place every term. They provide an opportunity for pupils to perform as soloists and in ensembles in front of a friendly audience of pupils, staff, family and friends. Instrumental teachers are encouraged to organise their own small concerts where pupils at every stage of their musical journey are encouraged to perform. The experience of performance is important both for the development of character and confidence but also for the development of aspiration and a sense of ‘what I could be’ through the observation of performance by others. For this reason there are a number of formal and informal opportunities to perform that include:


Tuesday Music Assemblies: These feature soloists, small groups and bands, providing

on-going opportunities for performance.


Music Recitals: These take place once a term to provide opportunities for pupils to perform in front of friends and family in a more intimate atmosphere.


A Celebration of Christmas: This has been an annual joint event between the Music Departments of Rishworth and Heathfield. It features seasonal music, both traditional and contemporary, a number of items being collaborative ventures between the two schools.


Music in Chapel: Chapel services take place two or three times a term and the choir is a regular feature, singing hymns and anthems.


Rishworth ‘Young Musician of the Year’ competition: This takes place over three days across Rishworth and Heathfield Schools and breaks down into four sections: Primary, Junior, Intermediate and Senior. Pupils are invited to perform as soloists and in small ensembles and the winners of each section go through to the evening final in which an overall outstanding performance is chosen and the winner awarded the title ‘Young Musician of the Year’.


Annual Prize Giving: This event takes place just before half-term in the Michaelmas Term and gives the members of the various school choirs and ensembles an opportunity to perform in front of a large audience in Halifax Minster.


Music in the Quad: This event occurs most years and has been organised by the PTA. It involves the school rock bands performing late into the evening on a covered stage in the School Quad. The event is well supported and has a reputation for being an exciting gig.


Performances in the community: This has  included performing in ‘Ripponden in
Bloom’ and ‘Music Sunday’ at Halifax Minster. The Music Department has also performed in local primary schools.


Music Tours: Periodically, the Music Department will go on tour with its bands and choirs. Destinations have included Denmark, Italy, Austria, Prague, Paris and Venice where the highlight of the tour was the choral participation within evening Mass in St. Mark’s Basilica.

Music Department Staff

Chris Lewis – Director of Music
Chris is a graduate of Reading University, where he was awarded the Peter Wishart Memorial Prize. He went on to study on the Advanced Course at the Royal Academy of Music before embarking on his teaching career. Chris has worked as a successful Head of Department in several independent schools, including King Henry VIII Junior School, Coventry and the British School of Houston, Texas.


Lynn Meredith – Teacher of A-level Music
Lynn is a graduate of Leeds University where she was awarded the Frank Toothill Memorial Prize for Music. She has worked extensively in music education, teaching in schools in Leeds and serving, for many years, as Chair of Examiners for Music at Advanced Level for a major examining board. For five years she was responsible for running the secondary music PGCE course at the University of Leeds. Lynn is Music Director of CSI: Halifax, a choir formed by Calderdale Music Service to entice adults back into singing. She has been Music Director of Halifax Young Singers since 1995.

Visiting Music Staff

Paul Brown – Piano
Paul graduated from The City Of Leeds College Of Music with a first class degree in Light Music and a piano-teaching diploma from Guildhall School of Music. He has travelled extensively playing on several cruise liners as band-leader and gigging both at home and abroad in theatres, clubs and hotels. He has taught piano at The Licensed Victuallers School in Ilkley and joined Rishworth School in 1990. He also teaches privately. Paul enjoys composing and his music has been performed in Dance Shows, Music Festivals, exams and more recently in collaboration with his son, A.J. Brown, a former Heathfield and Rishworth School student who is forging a career as a singer.


Mark Wagstaff – Drums and Percussion
After graduating from the University of Huddersfield with a first class BMus(Hons) Mark went on to the Royal College of Music where he completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Performance with Distinction. He now works as a freelance timpanist and percussionist with many leading orchestras including; Opera North, Hallé and BBC Philharmonic. Mark is a member of Backbeat Percussion Quartet and is a guest tutor with the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain.


Ruth Burbidge – Flute and accompanist
Ruth Burbidge studied for three years at the Royal Academy of Music where her principal studies were piano and flute. After teaching music at Goole Grammar School for seven years, four of them as Head of Department, she went for a year to Trinity College of Music adding recorder and harpsichord to her studies and winning the prestigious Raymond Russell prize for all harpsichord students in the UK. A lecturing post took her up to Leeds, where she settled in Mytholmroyd and now maintains a successful career as soloist and accompanist. She is now in great demand as a tutor and conductor at recorder workshops and festivals in the UK and America. Much of her time is spent developing a recorder and Early Music publishing and distribution business. She has enjoyed teaching the flute, recorder and piano and providing accompaniment to generations of pupils at Heathfield and Rishworth School for more than 30 years.


Neil Darwent – Guitar
Neil Darwent graduated from The University of Huddersfield as a classically trained guitarist with a subject distinction in performance. He specialises in chamber music, performing pieces for guitar, strings, woodwind and keyboard but also enjoys playing solo guitar music for intimate recitals, functions and restaurants. He has taught and examined guitar at the University of Huddersfield and worked for music services in Oldham, Calderdale, Kirklees and Barnsley. Neil joined the Rishworth School team in 2002 and also teaches privately.


Caroline Davis – Violin

After graduating with a degree in Music from the University of Manchester, Caroline went on to study postgraduate performance and specialist strings teaching at the RNCM. Whilst in Manchester, Caroline was fortunate to study with Ronnie Birks of the Lindsay and Chilingrian Quartets. Following her studies, Caroline taught violin with the Menuhin Foundation in Bermuda. During this time, Caroline played with numerous visiting orchestras and has worked with artists including James Galway, Quincy Jones and Josh Groban. Now permanently back in the UK, Caroline is enjoying teaching violin at Rishworth and Heathfield and also regularly tutors for the National Children’s Orchestras of Great Britain.


Katharine Curlett – Brass

Katharine studied at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester She appeared as a soloist at the Wigmore Hall and was awarded a place on the LSO Brass Academy. Katharine regularly works as a freelancer with the BBC Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony and Hallé orchestras. As well as orchestral playing, Katharine has performed with pop artists including ‘Adele’, ‘The Ting Tings’ and ‘Elbow’.  As a musical educator she has worked with the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain for a number of years and organises numerous outreach projects with her Brass Quintet ‘Northern Brass’.


Paula Sides – Voice

Paula Sides received the Tagor Gold Medal from the Royal College of Music after completing the International Opera School and the Karaviotis Prize at the Les Azuriales International Competition. At the Royal College of Music, she was a finalist for the Young Concert Artists Trust and received the Coutts & Co. Award along with the Sir Thomas Allen Scholarship supported by a Clayton Award.  She not only has a flourishing opera career, performing regularly with English Touring Opera, but also performs on the concert platform with conductors including Richard Farnes and David Hill.  Teaching and pedagogy has always been a part of her career as well, and she now works with the NHS voice clinic as a voice teacher and teaches privately.


Harry Michalas – Woodwind

Harry Michalas graduated with Distinction from the Royal Northern College of Music in 2012, having previously graduated from the University of Manchester with a First Class Degree. During his studies he was awarded the RNCM Gilbert/Fell Solo Woodwind Prize in two consecutive years. He has performed as a soloist, chamber and orchestral musician in many of the UK’s top venues, and across Europe and the USA. Highlights of his career so far have included performing at the BBC Proms, being broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and live on ITV and Channel 4. As a member of chamber groups, Harry has been a finalist in the Royal Overseas League and St Martin-in-the-Fields Chamber Music Competitions.