Course Material

For a number of the courses, tutors will contact students in advance of the school with required information or materials. 

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 (Rob Harper)


Music to be studied at the  Summer School will include arrangements and original compositions by Alan Fernie and Robert Ramskill. The Hinrichsen band books will also be used. The final choice of music will give priority to improvement of the playing of students including production of tone, intonation and reading skills. The developement of the essentials of the intensity of the diaphragm, mimimum lip pressure a free flowing air stream and proper placement of the tongue will be an essential part of each session.


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 Helen Thomas) 

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)

Instead of writing songs, as in past years, students will be asked to write instrumental duets. These will use instruments and players likely to be present at the school. Students will aim to show an awareness of instrumental colour, the practicalities of playing the instruments and musical structure. Poems will be included in the homework handout, as in the past. But these will be used to suggest a mood or emotion for the piece. However, less experienced composers may wish to set the poems as songs and then transfer these to instruments.


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)


The  Folk course has  a song-based approach and is suitable for people for whom Folk is not their normal genre but who would like to have a go at learning and singing folk songs. The course is designed to include participants of varying levels of experience, ability and musical backgrounds.

The course will include a selection of songs on a particular theme. Previous years have included Songs of Social Comment, Ritual and Seasonal Songs of the Folk Year, Industrial Folk Songs, Songs from the Sea and International Folk Songs.

Participants will be encouraged to learn the songs, try developing harmonies and work on song arrangements. There will be opportunities for participants to try some solo singing, if they wish, in an environment which is supportive and non-judgemental.

The suite of songs learnt during the week will be presented at the end of the week to demonstrate to students on other courses the songs learnt and developed.

It is not necessary to have prior experience of singing folk music as this is designed to be a fun learning experience. All songs will be provided on a theme yet to be decided.


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.


Trad Jazz (Keith Parkins)

 This course is suitable for people who would like to try playing jazz for the first time, though not excusively aimed at beginners.

 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 2019 course will focus on scenes from Mozart's 'Magic Flute'. 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, material to learn in advance (help and support with this is given prior to the  start of the School)  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 (Helen Thomas)

The Wind Ensemble welcomes all woodwind players, saxophonists and french horn players. We will play a wide range of repertoire including original works for concert band and smaller wind ensembles, arrangements of works in classical and popular styles, and even the occasional graphic score. The course is ideal for players with varying levels of ability who would like to improve their ensemble skills and who enjoy a mix of tutor-led and peer group learning.