Our Advanced Musicians Programme is all about high expectations, excellent support and great opportunities in every aspect of our musical learning.

20% of our musicians have achieved Grade 5 or above.

Music at Simon Balle is a vibrant place to be - there is so much going on. We are a musical family and all our musicians make our work special. Their work echoes around our school every day and their achievements are made and celebrated amongst friends. We perform in many venues, and each summer at the world famous Saffron Hall. We support all styles of music and adapt our approach each year to cater for the musicians who work with us.

Our musicians provide the joy and hard work that we celebrate - a new performance, a new discovery, a new achievement, a personal triumph. Every day something new makes us smile and drives our wonderful team forward. We offer outstanding and supportive specialist learning to the highest level. Our teaching is rigorous and linked so much to the music profession. We nurture talent and ability at all stages and ages with a wide range of ensembles and opportunities. Our aim is that our musicians achieve excellence in every way, being exposed to a rich variety of influences, approaches and attitudes.

We expect commitment from our musicians, embracing our distinct ethos. Discipline with practice and commitment leads to success and achievement, whilst having fun along the way. An understanding of theory is really important - being able to read and understand music. The more students put in to their work and the department, the more they will get out. We respond to those who respond to us.

Our ensembles perform at home and abroad - each year we have been part of the music festival in Ghent, Belgium. Our musicians work with some of the top educators in the country. We have worked with Andy Scott from the Royal Northern College of Music and Jeffery Wilson from the Guildhall. Our students are given so many opportunities and it is up to them to grab them with enthusiasm and dedication. We pride ourselves in the quality and scale of these opportunities.

At each of KS4 and KS5 (GCSE and A Level) there are two pathways They are designed to create the very best musicians. All pathways involve you having instrumental or vocal lessons at Simon Balle, taught by our excellent team. This ensures that our support is inclusive and joined up and that you can create the very best recitals and performance opportunities in your chosen style of music.

Opportunities we offer

All musicians in the Academy are expected to embrace the opportunities we offer, including:

  • Masterclasses
  • Workshops
  • Weekly ensembles
  • Concerts and recitals
  • Performances out of school
  • Working with younger musicians
  • Having opportunities to experience the Guildhall Young Musicians in London (part of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama)



To be part of the programme

Year 11 or younger - musicians need to have achieved Grade 5 on their main instrument with at least a merit. Younger students on the programme will always be selected for appropriate opportunities.

If in the sixth form, musicians should have achieved at least Grade 6 with a merit by the start of Year 12.

Where a musician is at the required standard but has not taken a grade, we will ask for a recording, followed by a discussion regarding theoretical understanding.

Musicians should apply to be part of the programme, and we will invite Simon Balle musicians when their achieve the required standard. It is crucial we know about you, your music and why you want to be part of this programme!

Most importantly, students have to commit. To practice, progress and participation. The more you put in, the more you will get out.

Prior to KS4

Students in Year 9 and below working as part of the programme will be expected to maintain full commitment to all ensembles and performances they are part of, as well as practice - at least 5 x 30 minutes per week on their main instrument. They will be invited to take part in relevant AMP activities during the year and might be part of a more senior ensemble as appropriate. As they get older, more activities will become appropriate for both age and ability.


In Year 9, if a musician wants to be able to take GCSE Music, we will do everything possible to achieve this. Musicians who are already part of the AMP will have a pathway where they could choose music. We will explain the options to our musicians during Year 9.

Musicians might choose not to take GCSE Music, but still be part of the AMP. We will expect the same commitment to enrichment and progress as part of our instrumental programme, to develop musicianship to the highest possible standard. We will still expect the same high standards and offer the same opportunities.

A Level (KS5)

There are two pathways.

Pathway 1.

A level Music and 2 other A levels. A Level music is a qualification to prepare you for life as a musician. As part of this you might be taking a diploma, or auditioning for music college or to be a choral scholar. You will have timetabled practice sessions each week and respond to high expectations regarding progress. You will take a full part in our ensembles and choirs - essential enrichment that will also include supporting class lessons. We will support you as an individual to be the best musician you can be through masterclasses and a wealth of other opportunities, such as leading ensembles and working with younger musicians.

Pathway 2

You have music as your enrichment. You are not taking Music A level, but are working towards Grade 8 or a diploma on your first instrument and have a clear pathway of progression and expectation. Your enrichment pathway is supported, with masterclasses and opportunities, as well as your full participation in our ensembles and events. With this pathway, it is accepted by all that music is a subject that supports your academic subjects being taken, rather than hindering them.

In the Sixth Form

We offer Music A Level (Eduqas), Grade 8 and London College of Music Diplomas. These cover all styles of music, including popular music and musical theatre.

A level Music creates musicians who have the skills to shape the future of music. They can read music, understand musical theory and can create their own music. They can perform to the very highest level in the genre of their pathway. We firmly believe that Music A level prepares all musicians for progress to University for any subject. It also requires all the skills to be a professional musician in the modern world at a Conservatoire, Popular Music college, Musical Theatre and more.

Grade 8 and Diplomas compliment Music A level and are performance exams at the very highest level.

Performers will have the opportunities to work with an accompanist or live band, depending on the genre of pieces chosen. This is an integral part of achieving the very highest standards in performance.



Musicians have to be able to work independently. Learning will involve tuition, daily practice, listening, rehearsals and independent study. Music is not a subject that is confined to the lessons. You will go to concerts, you will extend your listening, you will use the lessons as a starting point to develop your understanding and skills. The more involved you become and the more you work independently, using your time wisely, the better chance you have of the best results. There will be opportunities throughout the year for development. Much of our work on the programme will be drive by the musicians themselves - creating opportunities, making music.

Where are our alumni now?

Simon Balle Music alumni permeate all areas of the music profession, and lead the way at world leading festivals, in concert halls, opera houses and theatres across the globe. We are hugely proud of the breadth and diversity of their careers, and the significant contribution our alumni make to the music profession and beyond. For so many who have not made music a career, music is still part of who they are and what they achieve.

We have links with many conservatoires and music collages, and over the years have had students study at so many of them, being closely supported through the audition process. Others have had music as their enrichment passion, and gone on to continue music in bands and orchestras, many at some of the country's top universities. We have Cambridge and Oxford Choral Scholars as part of our alumni. We have a long list of musical alumni for whom music has helped them be who they are.

Our relationship with former students is lifelong and every musician who attended Simon Balle School is a member of our alumni community. All of our alumni have one thing in common. They are part of of Team Music.

As part of the application process for external candidates

We will invite you to our rehearsals and concerts to experience first hand how amazing our music is. Changing schools can be daunting, so supporting you to already be part of Team Music is very important to us. We will meet with you as part of the interview process and ensure that we can support your individual musical pathway.

Staying connected throughout is vital for musical progression.

Music in an all-through school is unique

Opportunities for our sixth form musicians include volunteering, supporting in our primary phase, developing leadership skills, supporting younger ensembles, supporting class lessons.

We have amazing alumni, many of whom stay in touch way beyond their sixth form years. Families are so much part of Team Music, especially the concerts and music tours and have a sense of loss when the schools years come to an end. We aim to help create lifelong musicians, and we are so proud of what our students achieve. Indeed, when many join university ensembles, others are in awe of the standard our musicians have achieved and the experiences they have had.

It is not until you experience our incredible music that you realise how amazing it is.

Whatever your style of music and ambition, there is a pathway for you

We are one team.

We are Team Music




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