Sir William Borlase's Grammar School

Performing Arts

Borlase has a reputation for excellence in the Performing Arts: Music, Drama, Dance and Technical Theatre are a very important part of the school’s ethos. We value all the creative arts and believe strongly in the entitlement of all young people to experience specialist teaching of these subjects, giving them the opportunity to develop their confidence, creativity and skills.

Up-to-date highlights of our Performing Arts programme can be found on the school's YouTube channel.

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The school’s culture is one where pupils share and appreciate one another’s work through regular performance opportunities in assemblies; we recognise the positive impact this has on their confidence when giving presentations in all academic and discussion forums. We also feel strongly that the Performing Arts facilitate students to engage and become immersed in a variety of traditions, cultures and experiences. Music, Drama and Dance are studied by all Key Stage 3 pupils for one hour a week and the subjects are popular at GCSE and A Level with boys and girls. We are proud of the outstanding results we achieve in Performing Arts subjects for these qualifications.

almost 60% of our current Y11 cohort undertake at least one Performing Arts subject as part of their GCSE options.

Technical Theatre is also taught in the Sixth Form which complements the learning of our Arts students and our Engineers interested in acoustic and lighting design.

The Arts are not only taught as subjects in their own right, they are also used in other subject areas as part of their creative approaches to teaching and learning. Dance has been used to explore topics across academic disciplines including Electricity in Physics, Elements in Chemistry and, most recently, Poetry based around different cultures in English. The Drama department has collaborated with Modern Foreign Languages and History, and students within the Music Department have undertaken projects combining Music and Maths, Physics, French and History. All Performing Arts work closely with MFL in their annual Languages Extravaganza evening.

For further information about the Performing Arts' academic or extracurricular programmes please see the specific Academic Department pages.

Extracurricular

The extracurricular provision in the Performing Arts at Borlase has been described in The Tatler Magazine's Good Schools Guide as "superlative" and continues to expand. Several Performing Arts clubs take place every day and every year sees dozens of events which showcase the hard work of our students and staff. The Music Department offers over twenty clubs a week including eight school choirs, four orchestras, two jazz bands, a concert band, rock bands and other smaller chamber ensembles. We have several major annual Dance events including the Year 7 Cross Curricular Dance Project, Year 8’s Strictly Come Dancing Final and the Annual Dance Show. The Drama Department runs clubs for all year groups as well as organising workshops with professional practitioners and theatre companies. There is a Senior Musical or Play every year and a Junior Musical every other year which regularly feature in excess of one hundred students. We believe the Performing Arts are for everybody and this is particularly evident in our triennial Drama, Music and Dance House competitions, in which every member of the school competes. We also undertake a biennial House Lighting competition.

"Our son has been inspired by all of you and had opportunities afforded to him that have exceeded all of our expectations!"

We believe in setting very high expectations for performance and our production values are always impressive. We perform with original sets, live student and professional orchestras and innovative lighting in our school theatre.  Our student theatre technical teams also work behind the scenes for productions and concerts. 

We are very proud of the achievements of our students. We have pupils who have been members of the National Youth Orchestra and Choir and the National Youth Theatre, as well as many who perform at county level. We have several students each year who perform in the West End, most recently in Matilda and Billy Elliot. Old Borlasians have progressed to some of the most prestigious institutions in this country and beyond; we have many former students who have successful careers in the arts and many, many more who simply continue to enjoy the arts as an essential escape from their busy professional lives. For further information about careers and destinations in these subjects, please see our specific Academic Department pages

Student Leadership

A key element of our Performing Arts programme is that of student leadership. We strongly believe in the importance of empowering students from across year groups in undertaking leadership opportunities, from running ensembles and clubs to supporting younger students in their academic work. We would not be able to undertake the vast number of extracurricular clubs without the support of student leaders. The Performing Arts student leadership team is overseen by two Y13 Arts Captains, two Y13 Technical Theatre Captains and two Y13 Front of House Captains.

Recent Productions

There is something being performed at Borlase almost every week. From A-Level and GCSE devised drama, to 'Rocktober' and Chamber Concerts, to Dance Shows and Senior Productions, the Performing Arts calendar is vibrant, exciting and non-stop! Recent productions include Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!, Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, Ibsen's An Enemy of the People, Loesser's Guys and Dolls and Bartlett's King Charles III. Performing Arts students also represent the school to high acclaim in the local area and around the country. Dance ensembles have recently performed at Sadler's Wells Theatre, London, The Lowry, Manchester (as part of the national U-Dance Festival) and at the ICC Birmingham (as part of the SSAT National Conference). Our choirs have performed alongside ensembles including Ascot Brass and Taplow Choirs, and won categories within competitions including the Wycombe Orpheus Festival of Young Musicians and the Marlow and Maidenhead Music Festivals.

Facilities

The school is fortunate in having its own theatre with a sprung floor which can be adapted to suit Dance, Drama and Music productions. It has professional sound and lighting systems; high-spec projector and cyclorama and various other “toys” for special effects. The theatre also has movable raked seating, which has just been refurbished, allowing the space to be used in several different ways. The Music rooms are fully equipped for specialist teaching at all levels including a full suite of computers, a Yamaha grand piano and assorted percussion; we also have several instrumental teaching rooms and a recording studio. Our Chapel, which includes a traditional pipe organ, is used for sacred music concerts; we also have a Recital Room, which features another concert standard piano and is regularly used for examinations and chamber concerts. A few years ago we returned the original school hall in the cloisters back to its original purpose as a performance space, and have converted it into a fully-equipped studio theatre. We have a sprung-floor Dance Studio with mirrors and barres which is used for lessons and dance clubs.  

Arts Dinner

We celebrate the year’s performances in the Performing Arts at an annual dinner for the senior students and staff. Everyone who has contributed to making the busy programme of events possible across the year is invited and there are live performances as well as film-footage of the highlights.

Performing Arts Staff

Mr Seth Miall Director of Music & Performing Arts; Associate Assistant Headteacher
Mr Berj Tekerian Head of Drama
Miss Savanna Ramnarine Head of Dance
Dr Ben Parsons Teacher of Music; Assistant Headteacher
Mr Richard Harker Teacher of Music
Mrs Kirsty Ashby Teacher of Music; Head of KS4; SENDCo
Miss Sarah Rayner Teacher of Drama and English
Mrs Claire Hindley Dance Teacher
Miss M Albarracin-Seiquer Dance Teacher and Support; Rambert Grades Teacher
Mrs Jennifer Chislett Performing Arts and Theatre Technician; Teacher of Technical Theatre
Mr Mark Hartley Teacher of Technical Theatre and Design and Technology; Artistic Director of JAM Theatre Company, Marlow
Mr Hugh Robson English Teacher, Chapel Organist; Piano, organ and harpsichord accompanist.
Mrs Jenny Hopper NCELP MFL Hub Lead; Violinist and piano accompanist
Mrs Suzanne Davie LAMDA Teacher
Ms Charlotte Morris Administrator, Box Office
Mrs Christine Garrow Peripatetic Music Service Administrator

We also have several Peripatetic Music Teachers led by Mr Seth Miall. Further details regarding our Peripatetic Music Service, including how students can apply for lessons and our current lesson rates, can be found below.

Peripatetic Music Service at SWBGS

As part of the outstanding musical education we aim to offer, Borlase has its own Peripatetic Music Service for students that wish to undertake one-to-one instrumental or vocal lessons during the school day. The peripatetic music service is a vibrant and highly valued part of school life; around two hundred and fifty students in the school currently use it, and we have 13 peripatetic music teachers (names and experience can be found below) specialising in instruments including: Violin/Viola, Cello, Flute, Clarinet, Saxophone, Piano, Percussion, Electric/Acoustic/Classical Guitar, Voice and Brass. Any students wishing to start peripatetic music lessons should contact Mrs Garrow in the school office and ask for a music lessons application form and contract.

Students can choose to undertake either 30-minute or 20-minute lessons. Thirty lessons are completed over the course of an academic year and fees are currently set as follows:

30-minute lessons: £20

20-minute lessons: £14

If you have any further queries about our extracurricular music programme, or the Peripatetic Music Service, please contact the Director of Music, Mr Miall, via enquiries@swbgs.com.

Peripatetic Music Staff

At Borlase we are proud to have an excellent team of highly qualified, experienced and engaging music teachers. In recruiting our teachers we insist that not only should they be expert teachers, but that they are actively working as players. We think this is an important ingredient in ensuring that our students become accomplished performers as well as players, and this is borne out by the excellent contribution the students make to our school concerts and productions. Some of our peripatetic music staff also undertake wider roles within the department including running extracurricular ensembles. For further information about their qualifications and expertise please read their individual biographies below.

 

Mrs M Atabek: Violin, Viola, Piano

Minor is passionate about teaching violin and piano and is also an accomplished performer with experience of playing in professional orchestras and quartets. She is from Istanbul where she taught and worked in Istanbul University State Conservatoire, undertook her MA in Violin Performance in Istanbul Technical University MIAM and played in various professional orchestras. She has been living in the UK since 2008, working for Berkshire Maestros for many years and currently works in schools in the Berkshire and Buckinghamshire areas. Minor specialises in teaching young learners, ABRSM, Trinity and performance preparation and also teaches pupils from all age and levels. She loves charity work and runs free online music and instrument classes for primary school aged children who need music education in Turkey.

 

Mr J Bailey: Piano

John Bailey FRSM MMus (Jazz), has worked professionally as a jazz and classical pianist, musical director, session musician, accompanist, arranger and composer for the last 20 years. Since moving to London and completing his training at Guildhall School of Music he has worked internationally as a performer in a wide range of musical genres including classical recitals and various jazz and tango music ensembles. John currently teaches Piano in a number of schools in the London area.

 

Ms L Cormack-Cook: Voice

Leonie graduated from University of Nottingham with a First in Music & German, where she held a choral scholarship and spent a year singing at the Augustinerkirche whilst studying in Vienna. After training as a secondary school teacher of Music and German, and while teaching part time, she continued her vocal studies with Marie McLaughlin and trained with English National Opera on their Opera Works programme in 2011. Before taking time off with her young family, Leonie performed extensively as a soprano soloist in Oratorio, Opera and Film. Leonie now combines teaching singing and leading children's choirs with a career in the field of mental health, and is currently studying MSc Psychotherapy.

 

Mrs S Cossins: Woodwind, ‘Cello

Sue studied Clarinet at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, and plays Clarinet and Cello for numerous societies in the area. She is principal Clarinet of the Slough Philharmonic orchestra.

 

Mr S Davie: Brass; Director of the Borlase Jazz Bands

Having been a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Simon went on to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Goldsmith’s College, University of London. His teaching career has seen him hold the position of Director of Music at a number of secondary schools. In recent years Simon has stepped out of the classroom and is now focused on instrumental teaching and conducting in a number of schools in the High Wycombe and Marlow area, including the Chiltern Music Academy.

 

Mrs J Garrett: Piano; School accompanist

GGSM( Hons) Lond; ARCM: PGTC: LBCA: FISM: Certificate of Advanced Studies GSMD

Conservatoire trained, Jean has performed professionally in concert halls in the UK, across Europe, Iceland and the USA working alongside top international string, woodwind players and singers. Jean is a very experienced teacher and coach.

 

Mr J Reeve: Percussion, Piano

A graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and a student of renowned drum tutor Bob Armstrong, Jason is a highly sought after drummer and percussionist with a wide range of experience performing and recording Jazz, Pop, Rock, Latin, Rock, Country, Funk and Drum and Bass. He has led a house band for a BBC series and recorded sessions for BBC Radio 2 and Radio 6 music and has performed in New York, Bahrain, across Europe and at major festivals in the UK. Jason is also an experienced teacher of Piano and has taught both this and Percussion in Borlase for several years as well as other schools in the local area. When not playing or teaching Jason enjoys running!

 

Mr H Robson: Organ; School Organist; Teacher of English

Organ Scholar at Pembroke College, Oxford (1984 - '87), Hugh has over forty years' experience of performing as a soloist and accompanist on piano, organ and harpsichord. He has taught both organ and harpsichord on and off for over thirty years. He is currently Chapel Organist at Borlase and occasionally composes and performs his own compositions. Hugh has an Associateship of the Royal College of Music (ARCM) and Fellowships of the Royal College of Organists (FRCO) and the Royal Schools of Music (FRSM) (harpsichord performance).

 

Mrs G Ross: Voice; Director of Cambiata Boys’ Choir

Gilly has worked extensively as a professional soprano with various conductors in London for many years. As an educator she has given master classes, helped form and train choirs and been thrilled to be involved in training young people, helping them to realise their dreams, teaching at Borlase for 20 years and others in the area. Gilly is married to harpsichordist and organist Alastair Ross; together they formed and recorded with their own group, Concerto Delle Donne, and ran a children’s choir for 8 years in which their four boys, now all musicians, sang.

 

Mr D Shannon: Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Classical Guitar

Dave has been teaching electric, acoustic and classical styles of Guitar for over 10 years, ranging from complete beginner all the way through to degree level. When he is not teaching he also enjoys working as a composer and session guitarist, as well as performing with a couple of the UK's leading function bands and accompanying original creative artists.

 

Mrs M Vanryne: Violin, Viola

Marilyn studied at Amersham Music Centre, Guildhall School of Music and Drama and The Royal Academy of Music. Leader of the Slough Philharmonic Orchestra for the past 30 years, she also plays in the St John's Chamber Orchestra and has been leader of the Misbourne Orchestra and Crendon Chamber Orchestra. In the past Marilyn has coached the upper strings for Buckinghamshire County Youth Orchestra and conducted Elementary Strings and Youth Strings at Amersham Music Centre. She often leads for local Choral and Operatic Societies and currently teaches at 3 local Grammar schools.

 

Mr R Vanryne: Brass; Director of Brass Ensemble

Robert began playing the cornet at the age of 9 completely by accident when his brother was given one to try out. After a number of years with Trevor Steventon at the High Wycombe Music Centre, Robert went on to do a BMus at Royal Holloway College, London University, then postgraduate performance studies on the trumpet with Michael Laird at the Royal College of Music. For most of his working life Robert has specialised in the performance Baroque music and has taught at both school and at conservatoire level. When he’s not performing or teaching, Robert also makes trumpets in a workshop at the bottom of his parents’ garden.

 

Mrs E Walker: Woodwind

BMus Hons PGCE LLCM (P) ALCM (TD) – Flute and saxophone.

Emma is a graduate of The London College of Music where she studied flute, piccolo and saxophone. She enjoys playing all styles of music and has performed in venues such as The Royal Albert Hall, The Royal Festival Hall and St John Smith Square in London. Emma is a respected woodwind teacher in Buckinghamshire working for Buckinghamshire Music Trust and coaching players for the County Youth Orchestra. She has previously worked at The London College of Music Junior College and as a classroom music teacher at a secondary school in West London.

 

Mr D Young: Acoustic Guitar, Classical Guitar

David has been a professional guitarist and guitar teacher for over twenty-five years. He produced a number 1 classical guitar album of Beatles music by Carlos Bonell and spent seven years as one of the guitarists in the Queen musical We Will Rock You in London’s West End. David’s own original band Space Elevator’s 2018 album reached the top 20 of the official UK rock chart. He also spent five years as the classical guitar specialist teacher to third year degree students at The Institute in London.