The Music Department is one of the largest and liveliest in London with a huge array of orchestras, bands and choirs and more than 40 specialist music staff. Forest provides an excellent standard in instrumental and vocal tuition. Many of our visiting teachers also teach at the junior and senior departments of the London conservatoires; some are also ABRSM examiners.
All are committed professional musicians and many perform with some of the most well-known ensembles and orchestras in the country.
At Forest, every pupil is encouraged to take part in music, either by playing an instrument, joining one of our many ensembles, or by singing in a choir or as a soloist. Every pupil is valued and supported, and many of our pupils go on to study music at university or conservatoire.
Alongside lessons in the curriculum, opportunities for pupils to take part in music at Forest are myriad with many concerts and events throughout the year. This includes the annual boys’ and girls’ House Music Competitions, which see the Sports Hall and Deaton Theatre transformed into what may be mistaken as the O2 Arena, such is the energy of the musicians and the crowd.
In addition to performing at Forest, our young musicians have performed at venues such as Chelmsford Cathedral, the East India Club, Kings’ Place, The Forge in Camden, Southwark Cathedral, St. Paul’s Cathedral and St. John’s Smith Square.
In Year 7, all pupils, regardless of whether they already learn an instrument, are given the chance to learn a new instrument free of charge for one year as part of the Endangered Instruments Scheme. There are around 16-20 places annually on this scheme which are offered on a first-come first-served basis. In recent years, the instruments offered have included the French horn, oboe, bassoon, harp, viola and orchestral percussion.
Playing in an ensemble or singing in a choir is a vital part of being a musician and at Forest our philosophy is that all pupils should have the opportunity to do this. The whole of Year 7 perform as a massed choir in the first large scale concert of each year, and all instrumentalists are encouraged to participate in a small and large ensemble.
Our Chapel choirs sing regular morning services in addition to occasional Choral Evensong, Remembrance Day, Reunion, Commemoration and Carol services. The Senior Chapel Choir comprises around 36 pupils and sings a tremendous number of anthems and settings in addition to performing pop, jazz, folk and other lighter styles. This excellent grounding singing enables many of our singers to win Choral Awards at university, including at Oxbridge.
The Music School is made up of 12 practice rooms, a large rehearsal and recital space, and four classrooms, with 38 PC workstations.
The Recital Room has a Seiler baby grand piano, a single-manual harpsichord and one-manual chamber organ. There is a Steinway Model D grand piano in the Dining Hall, a Yamaha grand piano in the G-block hall, and the Chapel houses a two-manual tracker action organ.
All practice rooms are equipped with high quality Yamaha upright pianos.
The Music Department owns a very large stock of instruments which can be hired to pupils in the early stages of their instrumental development.
Forest’s Visiting Composer
Our Visiting Composer, Mr Bloom, is a professional composer who has worked with the London Symphony Orchestra and is currently working on his PhD at Cambridge University under the guidance of Richard Causton.
Mr Bloom gives individual composition lessons to our most promising young composers. He also runs our Contemporary Music Ensemble. Many young musicians do not have opportunities to engage with this type of cutting edge repertoire until they are at university or conservatoire.
Every year the Ossian Ensemble, a professional contemporary music ensemble comprising some of the most exciting and brilliant young players on the scene today visit Forest and workshop pupil compositions. The pupils have the chance to work directly in rehearsal with the Ossian and to develop and refine their compositions as a result.
Mr Bloom also works with the Preparatory School in their Composition Week, where Year 6 pupils work in groups to compose a 30-minute new piece of music, which they premiere to parents and peers as the culmination of the project.
Many of the pupils whom Mr Bloom has worked with have gone on to study composition at some of the most prestigious conservatoires across the country.
Professional musicians regularly visit Forest to run workshops and masterclasses. Recent artists who have visited the School include The Big Shake Up, Peter Sheppard-Skaerved, The Lawson Trio, Pete Long and The Ossian Ensemble.
There are many excellent rock bands formed by pupils and many of these are showcased at House Music Competitions and other charity events.
There are also regular Live Lounge events, coordinated by Sixth Formers, where pupils perform in an informal club-style setting. All the hosting, technical setup, sound checking and performance is done by the pupils.
What do our musicians do after they leave Forest?
Pupils regularly go on to study music at top universities and conservatoires, often winning scholarships. In recent years pupils have won places at The Royal Academy of Music, The Royal College of Music, The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Trinity Laban Conservatoire, The Royal Northern College of Music, Birmingham Conservatoire, and Manchester University.