Music & The Arts

Music & The Arts

Given our proud history as a Choir School, music making is an essential and hugely enjoyable part of King’s life.

We continue to educate Choristers and Junior School boys and girls can audition to join the Cathedral Choir as probationers from the age of seven. If they go on to become Choristers, they will sing at Cathedral services and prestigious events throughout the year, a tradition that stretches back almost 1,000 years.

It is not only our young Choristers who benefit from King’s commitment to music. We believe it offers wider benefits for all our pupils: helping with languages, reasoning, creativity, teamwork, discipline and much more. Every class has two weekly music lessons given by the Head of Music for Junior School; typical activities include singing, appraising, composing and performing.

Junior School has a well-equipped music room and around three-quarters of all children learn at least one instrument – some starting lessons as early as five years old. Pupils enjoy learning as individuals or in a group and we have our own Junior School Orchestra along with ensembles for strings, woodwind and brass.

There are plenty of opportunities for our young musicians to perform in front of an audience. For example, the girls and boys of our Junior Choir sing at morning assemblies, Harvest Festival, thChristmas Carol Service, and Candlemas – often in the magnificent surroundings of the Cathedra

Catherine Sawyer
Catherine SawyerI am passionate about singing being at the heart of King’s Junior School. The pupils are so enthusiastic, especially when given an opportunity to perform. I feel so fortunate to be teaching music at King’s and guiding pupils through a musical journey. As a singer I have sung in many professional concerts including Handel’s Messiah with just 9 singers! One of my most memorable experiences was living in Kenya in an orphanage for 3 months in my gap year where I had the opportunity to share songs and travel to remote villages.  There is always some form of music to be heard at home – my husband is a choral conductor, my eldest son is studying singing at Birmingham Conservatoire and my second son is studying media and videography. Both sons were choristers at Gloucester Cathedral and were therefore pupils at King’s. My youngest daughter rules the roost and has boundless energy to keep us busy!

You can watch our recent Informal Concert here:


Drama and Dance

Dance and drama provide children with a powerful means of expression and often brings out hidden talents. All pupils have dance and drama lessons once a week and are encouraged to explore their academic subjects through creative performances, increasing pupils’ understanding of topics such as the First World War.

King’s children get their first taste of performing from the age of three in the Nativity play, which is staged in the ancient Chapter House. All younger pupils appear in the summer production which has presented shows such as Creepy Crawlies and Flutterpillar to audiences of appreciative parents.  

As they progress through Junior School, the opportunities to study and perform dance and drama continue to grow, with both subjects being taught by a specialist dance and drama teacher. Older children take part in an annual large-scale production, usually supported by younger children in the chorus. Previous shows have included Peter Pan, Super Stan and Mary Poppins.

In common with music, the arts of dance and drama bring wider advantages: building children’s confidence by facing an audience, improving memory through learning lines or sequences, and developing the many teamwork skills needed to stage a production.

Our children perform at many of our School celebrations which take place in the Cathedral, such as Harvest Festival, the Christmas Carol Service and Candlemas. This is an incredibly inspirational place in which to perform.

Not all performances are drama-based. Teachers also encourage pupils to give talks on subjects of personal interest to them at school assemblies. From bell-ringing to steam trains, the variety and depth of our pupils’ expertise continues to surprise.

Ruth Woodliffe

Mrs Ruth WoodliffeRuth joined King’s following a varied and successful professional dance career, performing and teaching in different companies and stages around the world.

Ruth has been teaching dance and drama to children at King’s Junior School for over 15 years and her three children all attended King’s School.  She passionately believes that dance is for everyone; children should be given the chance to express themselves. Time and again she witnesses the benefits of children working outside of the classroom, collaborating on creative projects and performing in front of audiences.

At King’s there is space in the curriculum for all children to be taught dance and drama every week.  Watching the confidence of children growing, exploring their own creativity and having the self-assurance to perform in front of an audience is what makes dance and drama at King’s so special.

Art and Design Technology

Our pupils’ vibrant and thoughtful art and design skills are evident throughout the School.

We teach expressive art and design from the early years through to Year 6, stimulating learning by encouraging children to explore and experiment with colour, texture, shape, media and design.

The visual arts are particularly good at developing pupils’ higher order thinking skills, such as analysis, evaluation and the creation of new knowledge. These in turn help to develop critical thinking and problem-solving abilities – both of which can be applied to any other type of study.

Children work on tasks independently, learning about self-motivation and discipline; and also collaboratively, working on extended projects as part of a team and learning the delicate arts of diplomacy and group decision-making.

Along with the opportunity to study a variety of art and design work, where possible we also arrange for children to meet some of the practitioners concerned. This often helps to inspire and enthuse our young pupils, spurring them to achieve even greater creative heights.

Junior School pupils benefit from the outstanding Art and Design Technology facilities that are on site in the Senior School, and enjoy activities that range from crafting photo frames in the workshops to making chocolate bars in the cookery suite.