Published using Google Docs
JGHS Cluster Instrumental Music Policy 2014/15
Updated automatically every 5 minutes

Music opportunities between the Primary and the High School in James Gillespie’s High School Cluster



The music department at James Gillespie’s High School is committed to ensuring and delivering the best possible learning experience for a child who has been selected to receive free tuition on an instrument within school.  The City of Edinburgh Council is one of the few authorities in Scotland which does not charge for instrumental lessons within school, and we hope that many students will take full opportunity of this invaluable resource.

Pupils will learn an instrument in one 30 minute lesson which rotates on a weekly basis over the particular day/s the instrumental teacher is in the department: therefore pupils should never miss the same subject lesson in consecutive weeks.

Both pupils and parents will be made aware of their commitment to receiving instrumental lessons through contact with the appropriate instrumental teacher and a contractual letter issued from the Curricular Leader of Performing Arts at JGHS.

With regards to the selection of new S1 pupils at James Gillespie’s High School, the music department firmly believes that pupils are offered the invaluable opportunity to learn an instrument in secondary school, especially those pupils who have previously had no provision to learn an instrument in primary school.  

It should be noted that spaces are very limited in these instruments, and the number of spaces available varies on an annual basis. Currently there are no spaces for tuition in violin/viola and clarsach due to the large amount of pupils continuing with these lessons from primary school.  Letters detailing the audition process are issued to all parents through their child in their class music lesson within the first few weeks of term.

It is expected that pupils who entered the City of Edinburgh Instruction System from selection at primary school continue lessons automatically in secondary school without the need to re-audition. The Arts and Learning Department issues the Curricular Leader of Performing Arts with a list of all pupils on the instrumental system in primary school, and these pupils are then contacted by the appropriate instrumental teacher on their entry to S1.

In order to maintain continuity in learning and the investment in instruction at primary level, pupils who learned an instrument at primary school are expected to develop and extend these skills further at secondary level.

We understand that a pupil has a right to a ‘trial period’ to ascertain suitability and aptitude for the instrument within his/her first year of learning. Pupils who waive their right to these lessons after 18 months of tuition at Primary School will not be given priority to audition for an alternative instrument in S1. This will also apply to those giving up their lessons in Primary 7, with the exception of the Primary 6 new starts.  This is to ensure that pupils who have never previously learned an instrument have the opportunity to learn an instrument in secondary school.

However, should spaces become available in any instrument after the initial S1 audition process, we would encourage these pupils to apply for instrumental lessons. Should this occur, these opportunities will be advertised to pupils in the pupil bulletin, website, Performing Arts blog and to parents via the newsletter.

Any pupil who currently learns an instrument privately may apply for another instrument within school.  There are spaces at the High School for S1 pupils in woodwind, brass, double bass, cello, piano, voice, percussion/drumkit, and guitar.

We also have spaces available for pupils to join the JGHS Pipe Band, learning the chanter, pipes, snare drum, or bass drum.  This is NOT provided by the City of Edinburgh Council and will therefore have a monthly subscription fee. Pupils within the City of Edinburgh instrumental system may also participate in the JGHS Pipe Band.

Parent/Carer Commitment:

On pupils being selected for instrumental tuition, parents will be issued with a contract which states that they support the learning of their child on the appropriate instrument and that they will ensure that their child regularly practises on this instrument and joins the appropriate school ensemble once they reach the required stage.

Parents are expected to support the department’s referral system on attendance, organisation and practice and encourage their child to regularly attend their weekly lesson and bring the necessary equipment such as their music and instrument.

Where appropriate, parents are required to sign a ‘loan of instrument’ form in which they agree to ensure that the school instrument loaned to their child is properly cared for.

Parents/carers are requested to replace items such as strings, reeds etc. when they break as this is normal ‘wear and tear’, and also meet the cost of any repairs due to the instrument being broken through mishandling or negligence in any way.

We endeavour to ensure that many pupils new to the instrumental system receive a school instrument, but this is not always possible due to our limited supply of instruments, and for larger and more expensive items such as clarsach and double bass.

After one year of learning, pupils are encouraged to purchase their own instrument: this can be purchased through the school via the Pupil Purchase Scheme where instruments can be purchased minus the VAT. Your child’s instrumental teacher will advise at the appropriate time.

Clarsachs can be hired from the Clarsach Society, and the clarsach teacher can advise on this.

Pupil Commitment:

Pupils are required to attend their weekly lesson, bring the appropriate equipment to their lesson and practise regularly on their instrument.

Pupils are encouraged to use the music department to practise their instrument at lunchtime and/or after school if they do not have an instrument at home, such as clarsach, drum kit, double bass etc.

Included in each pupil’s planner is an instrumental weekly lesson chart, and it is entirely their responsibility to ensure that they receive a signature from their class teacher at least 3 days’ in advance of their instrumental lesson in this diary.

Failure to do so may result in the subject teacher not permitting a pupil to attend their instrumental lesson, and therefore a referral for non-attendance at their instrumental lesson will be issued by the department.

Where a school instrument is loaned to a pupil, it is entirely the pupil’s responsibility to look after this instrument with due care and attention. Any repairs to this instrument through accident, mishandling or negligence should be undertaken by the parent/carer. Replacing items such as strings, reeds etc. are the responsibility of the pupil and parent/carer.

It is a fundamental requirement of each pupil that they participate in a school ensemble and are required to perform in the many concerts and musical events the music department offer. Failure to commit to and attend an appropriate instrumental group may result in the pupil being withdrawn from the instrumental instruction system.

The Performing Arts Co-ordinator in school is Miss Rachel Millar, who is also a music teacher in the Music Department, and she is responsible for the communications between parents and instrumental staff and co-ordinates the many extra-curricular opportunities within Music, Drama and Media.

Miss Millar is in regular contact with parents through the Performing Arts blog (, newsletters and departmental letters which detail opportunities for pupils to develop and extend their instrumental skills though the participation in the many concerts offered throughout the year.

Miss Millar is available to deal with any parental enquires regarding the instrumental system and can be contacted by email or telephone call.

The Curricular Leader of Performing Arts is Mrs Deirdre O’Brien who is also responsible for teaching Music in the department. Mrs O’Brien is the faculty head of Music, Drama and Media and has overall responsibility for the management of these curricular areas, overall extra-curricular responsibility and manages the Instrumental System within the school.


The music department at JGHS offers rich and varied opportunities for pupils to participate in the many ensembles that rehearse and the concerts that are scheduled throughout the year.

It is expected that all pupils who receive instrumental tuition within school participate in an appropriate school ensemble once they have reached the relevant stage in their learning.  This will greatly enhance overall musicianship and develop skills in group performing.  Each pupil will be advised about this and given more details by their instrumental teacher.

These opportunities are available for any pupil who plays an instrument, and includes the many pupils who learn an instrument out with school.

The music department firmly believes that the participation in an instrumental group or ensemble helps promote pupil self-esteem and sense of achievement, and teaches pupils invaluable skills in collaborating with others and working as part of a team.

This results in pupils learning to become ‘Confident Individuals’ and ‘Effective Contributors’ – key elements in the department’s Curriculum for Excellence policy. The experiences and outcomes of Expressive Arts and Health and Wellbeing are fully covered through ensemble playing and participation in concerts.

EXA 3-16a

I can sing and/or play music from a range of styles and cultures and perform my chosen music

confidently using performance directions, musical notation and/or playing by ear.

EXA 3-17a

I can use my voice, musical instruments or music technology to improvise or compose with

melody, rhythm, harmony, timbre and structure.

EXA 2-19a

I have listened to a range of music and can respond by discussing my thoughts and feelings. I can give and accept constructive comment on my own and others’ work. (including the work of professionals EXA 3-19a)

EXA 3-01a

I have used the skills I have developed in the expressive arts to contribute to a public presentation/performance.

EXA 3-01b

I have experienced the energy and excitement of being part of an audience for other people’s presentations/performances.

Pupil involvement in the many extra-curricular opportunities offered both within and out with school provides a vital link to the department’s ‘Enterprise in Education’ policy where young people are encouraged to be more independent, communicate effectively with each other and take responsibility for their own learning.

Extra Curricular Opportunities

The extra-curricular musical activities offered at James Gillespie’s High School are as follows:

Senior Wind Band                           Mondays after school                        

Junior Wind Band                           To be confirmed                          

Senior String Orchestra                        Tuesdays after school                

Transitional String Orchestra                Tuesdays after school                              

Senior Guitar Ensemble                Thursdays after school

Junior Guitar Ensemble                Fridays after school                    

Clarsach Group                             Tuesdays lunchtimes or after school

Flute Ensemble                                Thursdays lunchtime                      

Pipe Band/Chanter Group                Tuesdays after school        - TBC              

Percussion Ensemble                        Wednesdays lunchtime                    

Accordion Group                        Thursdays after school


Senior Choir (S4 – S6)                        Wednesdays after school                        

S2/3 Choir                                Tuesdays lunchtime                

S1 Choir                                Mondays  lunchtime

Gaelic Choir                                Wednesdays lunchtime

Chamber Choir                                Thursdays after school


Primary/Secondary Combined Choir

We have a rich tradition of choirs at JGHS, and all pupils in primary 7 will be invited to join the P.7/S.1 combined choir for the school’s annual Christmas Concert.

This is a fantastic transitional opportunity as well as offering a wonderful experience to participate in a huge choir and to perform at a prestigious concert hall in Scotland.

We hope that many P.7 pupils join this choir, and then continue with their choir participation into secondary school.

Events for 2013-14

Parental support is vital and we hope that many parents and families can attend as many of these events as possible. Put these dates in your diary now!

Rock Night 2013                Thursday 12th September 2013            The Liquid Rooms

7.00 – 9.00pm

Senior Drama Production        Friday 6th December                             Darroch Hall

7.00 – 9.00pm

Christmas Concert                Tuesday 17th December                     Usher Hall

7.00 – 9.30pm

Instrumental                        Tuesday 4th February 2014                       Library (temporary unit)

Parents’ Evening                4.30 – 6.00pm

‘Spring Fling’ Concert        Wednesday 26th March                     TBC                

‘Diversecity’                Friday 13th & Saturday 14th June 2014                  TBC                                        7.00 – 9.00pm                        


There are also many opportunities for young people learning an instrument to participate in the many ensembles that are run by the Arts and Learning Department.

This is voluntary participation by individual pupils, but it is hoped that many pupils learning an instrument in James Gillespie’s High School take this opportunity to be involved in these citywide ensembles.

These ensembles rehearse weekly out with school and involve pupils from across all primary and secondary schools in Edinburgh, culminating in concerts such as ‘Fanfare’, ‘Childline’ and the ‘Spring Concert Series’.

Participation is through an initial audition and each ensemble has a minimum ‘grade’ level of entry - more details can be obtained from the Curricular Leader or the instrumental teachers within the music department.

James Gillespie’s High School Music Department


Dear Parent/Carer

Selection for Instrumental Instruction

Name of Pupil:  _____________________                Instrument:  _______________


 Instrumental Teacher: __________________

I am delighted to inform you that your child has been successful in gaining a place on our Instrumental Instruction Programme.

He/she will receive a weekly 28/29 minute lesson from the above instrumental teacher: this is on a rotational basis so your child does not miss the same class every week.  

The work set by the instrumental teacher will be clearly identified in your child’s school homework planner.  

The instrumental section at the front of this planner includes an area that the class teacher must sign in order to give permission for your child to attend their instrumental lesson.

All lessons must be signed in advance at the start of every term (August and January) informing the class teacher that your child will have a few lessons that term. This is to allow the class teacher to set homework or give information regarding any class tests.

Although the instrument (if appropriate) and the lessons are provided free of charge, you will be asked to pay for music books, reeds, etc. where necessary and be responsible for the upkeep and repair of their instrument if this has been loaned from the school.  Regular practice is essential to progress and we value your support in encouraging and supporting a regular practice schedule.

Learning an instrument is an exciting opportunity and when your child has reached the required standard they will be expected, as part of their instrumental contract, to join the appropriate school band/orchestra/ensemble. As I am sure you appreciate, this is a vital part of school life and will greatly enhance playing and confidence.

Our stock of instruments is limited and where possible we would urge that you consider renting or leasing an instrument. Information about this can be obtained from your child’s instrumental teacher.  

It is also possible to buy instruments through the school without having to pay VAT. Again, please make contact with the appropriate instrumental teacher if this is an option.  

Please sign and return the instrumental contract to your child’s instrumental teacher, agreeing to support regular practice and attendance at lessons, the purchase of appropriate materials and the participation and regular attendance at band/orchestra once this stage is reached.

If you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards,

Deirdre S. O’Brien                                                Rachel Millar

Curricular Leader of Music, Drama and Media                        Performing Arts Co-ordinator          

James Gillespie’s High School Music Department



Name of pupil:         ___________________________


Class:                         ______________


Instrument:                  ______________________

I have read the letter concerning Instrumental Instruction and agree to the following:

  1. My child’s regular attendance at weekly lessons

  1. My child’s regular practice of work set by their teacher

  1. The purchase of any appropriate equipment or materials

  1. My child’s regular attendance at weekly ensemble rehearsals (once this stage is reached)

Signature of parent/carer: ________________________________