Course Material

For a number of the courses, students will be advised of music to be studied as we get nearer to the Summer School.

We are pleased to announce that for 2018 Ingestre have made more activity rooms available to us so that there will ample opportunity for informal groups rehearse and perform music of their own choice.


Big Band (Julie Collins) 

The WMA Big Band repertoire consists of a mixture of classic Big Band pieces and specially arranged numbers with a World Music edge. You don't have to be a jazz student to join in. The standard line up is rhythm section, five saxes (two alto, two tenor, baritone), two trumpets and two trombones, but we can and do accommodate other instruments that are keen to try it.


Brass Workshop (Bob James)


Music to be studied at the  Summer School will range from renaissance to present day in all styles, small group and brass band arrangements and pieces by Susato and other 16th century composers plus Dvorak, Alan Fernie and Robert Ramskill amongst others.


Ceilidh Practice (Keith Parkins)

 The repertoire of Ceilidh music that we shall use is predominantly dance music and includes hornpipes, reels, jigs, double jigs, slip jigs, hops, polkas, waltzes etc. It originates mainly from Scotland and Ireland but includes other European and American pieces. The music is written in concert pitch and is suitable for a wide variety of instruments.

 Each day there will be practice sessions available for musicians to prepare for Ceilidh performances which can form part of the social activities that take place in the evenings. These sessions are suitable for musicians having all levels of experience of playing Ceilidh music. They are also an ideal introduction for those who are playing Ceilidh music for the first time. Some participants may want to join the practice sessions but not perform at the Ceilidhs. Also, it is not essential that participants attend all the practice sessions; particularly if it is necessary for them to start to devote more time to rehearsals for other courses as the week progresses.

 Prior knowledge of Ceilidh music is not required as both music and advice will be available. It is intended that all students who want to perform in the Ceilidhs will be able to.

 Chamber Music (Neill Jackson and Sheila Searchfield) 

 The Chamber Music course is an opportunity to play in smaller groups with a range of players and instruments and to experience well-known music and more unusual works. We try to vary the groups each day so that everyone gets to play in a range of ensembles over the week. Generally players work in small groups, one or two per part, so players with a certain level of competence will enjoy this course more, though we try to accommodate all levels.

 There is a midweek performance which acts as a 'work in progress' night to show other course members what we have been doing but this is not the focus of our week. Our aim is for people to enjoy making music with a wide range of players and to try out music and different types of ensemble which they wouldn't have the opportunity to play in regularly.

There are two tutors on hand to offer help but there is also a time for players to work in small groups independently.

 The course is open to all string, woodwind and horn players. Other brass players who are interested should ask as we will try to accommodate them.


 Composition (David Martin)

The  title of the 2018 composition course is 'Working with Melody'. Melody is a fundamental part of music, one which existed long before the invention of harmony. We will look at how melody works by itself (monody) and how it works in conjunction with harmony (homophony and polyphony). We will look at cadences, these being the punctuation of music. We will listen to pieces ancient and modern which, hopefully, will illustrate all these matters.

A homework handout will be sent to students as soon as they enrol, so that they can compose pieces for discussion and performance at the school.


 Concert Orchestra (Neill Jackson)

 The Concert Orchestra will cover a wide range of repertoire and periods over the week from classical to modern and serious to light, in an informal and friendly atmosphere. There will be two sessions every day and players will be encouraged to swap parts to give everyone who wishes a chance of leading of playing solos. Help will be on hand from string, wind and brass tutors and the course is open to all players.

As on all orchestral courses, clarinettists and brass players, especially horns, should be prepared to transpose. Any clarinet player who has both Bflat and A instruments should bring both instruments.


Folk (Marion Harper)


This course has  a song-based approach and in previous years has included learning and performing songs on a theme such as the calendar of traditional festivals and the canon of industrial folk songs, as well as an element of group improvising, creating and developing new songs in the folk idiom.


Jazz (modern) (Julie Collins)

 The course aims to help beginning and intermediate students develop their proficiency in improvisation and performance of jazz by examining & playing music from the broad range covered by the term 'Jazz'. Although the  majority of the time will be spent playing, some technical exercises, practice routines and a basic level of jazz theory will discussed in order to help students  to deal with chords and harmony. We will also listen to some recorded jazz repertoire to try to examine various stylistic approaches.

The course is suitable for pianists, bass, guitar, wind and  string payers.  Participants should be able to play in keys up to four sharps or flats and be able to read music. Bassists need to be able to play a simple bass line from chord symbols and also read a notated bass line. There is also an opportunity for a drummer to take part who would need to be able to play basic swing and latin rhythms (no notated drum parts are provided).

During the week there will be opportunities for informal performances in which students can improvise with backing tracks or rhythm section and at the end of the week there will be a short performance in a more formal setting.


Jazz for Beginners (Keith Parkins)

 This course is for people who would like to try playing jazz for the first time.

 Participants should have reasonable fluency on their instrument and some sight reading skill. Improvisation is a central feature of jazz and is neither as difficult nor as scary as might be imagined. This course will concentrate on providing a repertoire of available notes for every tune that will be played so that solos can be improvised without too much hassle or worry.

Jazz is a serious art form which is both fun and creative. This introductory course should help participants to confidently play with other jazz musicians, and perhaps start to become jazz musicians themselves.

It is to be hoped that the introduction to playing jazz in this course will help increase the enjoyment of future performances for the musicians who are able to attend.


 Opera     (Jane Scott) 


The main objectives of the opera course are: to involve students in learning and  performing repertoire not normally staged by local amateur societies, to give everyone a chance to discover and develop their potential in a supportive and friendly group (irrespective of present knowledge or past experience) and to  have plenty of fun and laughter. No qualifications are required for this course other than a willingness to learn the material; everyone is welcome.

The 2018 course will focus on John Gay's ballad opera 'Polly'. This is the sequel to the better-known 1728 'Beggar's Opera', with which Gay established ballad opera, with its popular tunes,  political satire and lack of reverence for ostentatious theatrical and operatic conventions,  as a new genre. 'Polly' is set in the  West Indies and employs a cast of transported criminals, pirates and indigenous islanders. Written the year after its successful predecessor, 'Polly' was never performed in Gay's lifetime, being suppressed by the Walpole government.

'Polly', as a ballad opera, is in effect a play with songs, so its performance will involve spoken dialogue interwoven with short solo and chorus items set to some of the well-known melodies of the time. There is plenty of scope for students who wish  to take  on a  specific character role but equally there is ample ensemble content for those who prefer to remain in the chorus.

After enrolling on the course, students will be contacted by the tutor with information about the extracts we shall be working on and anything else you need to know relating to the ‘production’.




Public Singing for the Terrified (Singing Performance Class): Maria Caravanas



This class is to provide an opportunity for singers to perform for each other in afriendly environment and to have a  forum for (positive) comments from fellow singers. As the emphasis is on performance, songs must be sung from memory. Learning by heart is the start, not the finish.


 Sight Singing (David Martin)

This course is aimed at people who have already learned some music reading from learning to sing or play an instrument. This is not a course for complete beginners or for those who have studied music theory at Grade Five or above. We will look at key signatures, the pitching of melodic intervals, both consonant and dissonant, time signatures and some two-part singing.


Solo Singing (Maria Caravanas)

The solo singing course will provide an opportunity for singers to perform and discuss repertoire, vocal issues and related matters in an informal workshop


String Orchestra (Neill Jackson)

The String Orchestra is open to all players of bowed strings (violin, viola, ‘cello and double bass). In the past two years we have performed music from Britten’s Simple Symphony, Boyce’s Symphony No. 4, Avison’s Concerti and Piazzolla tangos. We try to play a mix of standard pieces and less well-known works and music from different ages.


 Summer School Chorus (Jane Scott)

This is an inclusive session which welcomes students from all courses and is intended to allow those with different musical interests to sing together. No previous singing experience is necessary and the Summer School Chorus provides a good opportunity for students whose main focus is on instrumental music to join in some group singing, along with those whose course choices have a singing focus.

The repertoire includes a wide range of material from madrigals to musicals and songs which reflect the aims of the WMA.


Woodwind Ensemble (Sheila Searchfield)

 Music for a large group of all woodwind instruments, which can include saxophones and horns.The group will generally consist of the woodwind section of a Concert Band,enabling students of all levels of expertise to join in.

It may also be possible to play music from the classical repertoire of octets and larger, depending on the instrumentalists enrolling. The tutor will bring a wide variety of music which will include both original compositions and also arrangements of classical and more popular styles.