Musicianship is a very important part of the curriculum and we expect all students will study for and take ABRSM exams in Theory or Practical Musicianship to at least Grade 6. These exams are arranged by us and take place in the Summer Term at JD. If you want to take your exam at a different point and your teacher agrees to this, you will need to organise the entry yourself.
You will also be expected to complete homework (which should take you around 30 minutes) each week for your musicianship classes. For full details about the JD musicianship curriculum please see the Musicianship Matters document below.
F – Foundation Level
This level of class lays the foundations of musical theory and practical musicianship.
I – Intermediate Level
The central focus of this level is ABRSM Grade 5 Theory and Intermediate Practical Musicianship. Students will be expected to take one or other of these examinations in the Summer Term.
Tr – Transitions
This class is broadly recommended for younger students who have gained ABRSM Grade 5 Theory or Intermediate Practical Musicianship and is a bridge towards the more advanced work at Upper Level.
U – Upper Level/H - Higher Level (U classes are for years 7-9 and H classes for years 10-12)
The central focus of this level is ABRSM Grade 6 Theory and related practical musicianship skills. All aspects of the ABRSM Grade 6 and Advanced Practical Musicianship syllabuses will be covered. At the end of the academic year students will (after discussion/consultation with their teacher) elect to enter either a T6 or Advanced Practical Musicianship class the following year.
This class is a continuation and consolidation of Upper Level work, and students will be expected to take the ABRSM Grade 6 Theory Examination in the Summer Term. (NB progression to this class is compulsory for first study composition students).
A – Advanced Practical Musicianship
This class is a continuation and consolidation of Upper Level work and students will be expected to take the ABRSM Advanced Practical Musicianship examination in the Summer Term.
After passing either Grade 6 Theory or Advanced Practical Musicianship Exams, students will elect (after discussion/consultation with their teacher) to take one of the following classes for the next academic year.
T7 & T8
T7 prepares students to take the ABRSM Grade 7 Theory Examination in the Summer Term, and may be followed the next year by T8 (preparation for taking the ABRSM Grade 8 Theory Examination in the Summer Term). Both T7 and T8 classes continue to develop complementary practical musicianship skills.
Comp – Composition Class
A composition class gives students the opportunity to apply knowledge of theory and experience of practical musicianship to the practice of composition. Students will be encouraged, under the guidance of their teacher, to experiment (in terms of how to develop musical ideas and in finding new sound possibilities). Rehearsal skills, which may involve conducting, will be developed. Although the emphasis of this class is on creativity and discovery, continued aural training remains a fundamental component.
Cond – Conducting Class (10 students max)
These classes taught by Robert Hodge, provide students with the opportunity to develop their conducting skills in a small group context. Priority is given to students in Years 12 – 13 and classes will be scheduled in years where teacher availability allows.
Imp – Improvisation Class
An improvisation class gives students the opportunity to develop improvisation skills and techniques in a variety of styles from Baroque embellishment to jazz and beyond (eg intuitive group improvisation) both on your principal study instrument (where this is not the piano) and at the keyboard. Though the emphasis of this class is on creativity and discovery, continued aural training remains a fundamental component.
KS - Keyboard Skills
This class is intended for students who have completed either a U or T6 class. The class will include an introduction to keyboard harmony and there will be a particular emphasis on supporting and developing the work covered at T6 level from a practical perspective (score reading skills, transposition etc). Students can take this class before, after or alongside a Grade 6 theory class; they do not need to be a first study pianist, but should be able to play to at least grade 4 level.
KH - Keyboard Harmony
This course gives students the opportunity to explore advanced harmony from a practical perspective. It is intended for students who have completed an advanced music theory course (grade 7 or 8) and who can demonstrate a higher level of proficiency at the keyboard (grade 7 level or higher). Students will work through a more complex range of keyboard harmony exercises that will help to prepare them for undergraduate level courses.
Students will explore academic discourse on themes including music and meaning, the value of music, music and beauty, and music’s relationship with the other arts. This class is intended for students in years 12 and 13 who are preparing for undergraduate level study. Continued aural training remains a fundamental component.
S – Sixth Form Level
These classes are intended for students in sixth form (school years 12 and 13) not taking Composition, Improvisation or graded theory exam classes. Work covered includes consolidation of historical, analytical and theoretical studies, aural skills and general musicianship, and is particularly useful for those preparing for Conservatoire/University music study.
Pre-Con – Pre-Conservatoire Class
This class has been designed for students who are in year 13 and who are applying to study at the RCM; it will be taught by JD teachers who are also RCM academic professors. Work covered will prepare students for RCM undergraduate courses. Pupils completing this course may be eligible to take some Level 5 (2nd year undergraduate) courses in their first year at RCM.
Please download and read the following handbook carefully.