The Purcell School is Britain’s oldest specialist music school. Situated on the outskirts of London in Bushey, Hertfordshire, the independent boarding and day school is home to around 180 young people, all of whom are passionate about music and determined to fulfil their exceptional talent. Students receive a well-rounded education with world-class music at the heart of School life.
Thanks to generous support from the Government’s Music and Dance Scheme, The Purcell School is open to young musicians from all backgrounds, regardless of their financial circumstances. Students must audition for places and, if successful, will receive at least two-and-a-half hours of weekly one-to-one specialist tuition with some of the world’s best music teachers. Music education continues in the classroom, with IGCSE taken a year early at the end of Year 10 and the Cambridge pre-U in Music in the Sixth Form. In addition, students are encouraged to participate in the School’s orchestras, bands, choirs, chamber music, operas, and masterclasses. Most will study an instrument or discipline in the classical tradition but there is also the option for students to study a Jazz specialism. Music Technology is a popular A Level subject, where students are able to make use of the School’s two recording studios and outstanding facilities.
The School provides regular performance opportunities for all students. These range from intimate informal events and School concerts, to regional festivals and standout performances on some of the world’s leading musical stages. Recent concert venues include the Royal Festival Hall, Cadogan Hall, Wigmore Hall and Milton Court Concert Hall. Students are also encouraged to develop and pursue their own performing interests. The student-run string orchestra, Philomel, is one such initiative, and the bi-annual ‘Sound, Image, Movement’ concert, which features an exciting line-up of student bands, is another. Students will study a typical academic curriculum, and The Purcell School believes that the most successful, most imaginative musicians are those with the rich, creative foundation that an all-round education provides. Academic subjects complement musical study, and there is an enthusiastic take-up for A Level subjects such as Art, English Literature and Mathematics.
Most students graduate to study Music at one of the top London music colleges. In 2016, ten School leavers went on to the Royal Academy of Music, six to the Royal College of Music and six to Guildhall School of Music & Drama. 53% of these students were awarded scholarships. Destinations of leavers also comprise the UK’s top universities, including Oxford and Cambridge. In the main these routes are taken to study Music but, on occasion, some follow other interests such as Physics, Aeronautical Engineering and History. Many former students have gone on to enjoy very distinguished musical careers. Recent notable alumni include BBC Young Musician of the Year 2014 pianist Martin James Bartlett, Royal Harpist Anne Denholm, Jazz pianist Jacob Collier and Oscar-nominated film composer Mica Levi, to name but a few.