In this section:

Westminster has long had an established tradition in music, with opportunities for individual and group participation. There are many performance groups. Rehearsal times are before and after school or at lunchtime. Students may perform in as many groups as they like, depending on the availability of positions and their skill level.

Ensembles are formed based on student interest and number. Entry to some groups is by audition or invitation only.

Some of our Senior Music Groups include: Orchestra; String Ensemble; Senior Concert Band; Big Band; Flute Ensemble; Chapel/Chamber Choir; Senior Vocal Ensemble; Vocal Jazz; Jazz Ensemble; Rock Band; Percussion Ensemble.

Music is a significant feature of the Westminster curriculum.

Mission Statement

The Music Program at Westminster School aims to provide music education of the highest quality. It aims to balance traditional musical concepts with innovative musical experiences and to instill in the students the relevance of music education in our society.

Aims and Objectives

To create a friendly and sympathetic learning environment in which students are:

  • encouraged to appreciate and participate in a wide range of musical experiences;
  • encouraged to appreciate the history and future possibilities of music;
  • provided with a range of learning opportunities appropriate to student needs and abilities;
  • encouraged to pursue excellence in music performances;
  • encouraged to develop an awareness of their responsibility as a member of a team;
  • fostered and encouraged to involve their families in support for the Music program.

To achieve these aims the School provides ongoing support in a variety of ways.

Students are encouraged to participate in a comprehensive program of musical activities, both curricular and co-curricular.

Students who do not wish to study music as a formal subject have the opportunity to learn an instrument or voice and receive tuition through the School. The School’s Music Department supports tuition in a full range of instrumental and vocal music and encourages students to perform publicly. Liturgical music is also prepared for liturgical celebrations.

Westminster School has excellent facilities for music. The music suite incorporates a large rehearsal area, a Preparatory School music room, a computer/keyboard laboratory, an instrument storeroom, offices and individual tuition rooms. The Michael Murray Centre for Performing Arts is an outstanding facility, providing an opportunity for students to perform to large audiences. While recognizing a good need for balance, performance is given a high priority in the student’s musical development.

The value of such experiences outside the curriculum has been highlighted during performances in and around Adelaide, as well as interstate and overseas. Westminster music tours provide great experiences and outcomes, from building friendships and encouraging teamwork to appreciating different cultures and their enjoyment of music. Such performances extend the repertoire and experience of our musicians and provide an invaluable opportunity to excel.

Music Ensembles

Westminster has a number of senior ensembles. Most are filled by invitation, though some are auditioned groups. It is expected that students taking part in these ensembles are undertaking tuition on their voice or instrument at this level and are prepared to practice regularly at home.

In addition to the senior ensembles, there are a number of smaller ensembles that students may take part in, such as ensembles for jazz, guitar, flute, strings as well as rock bands and vocal jazz. Students accepting an invitation or membership to the smaller ensemble are required to attend all rehearsal and performance schedules for that year.

All students who undertake instrumental tuition at the School are expected to be involved in at least one ensemble and are strongly encouraged to be in more.

Senior students may wish to enroll in some of the Stage 2 performance units offered through the School. Ensemble Performance and Solo Performance may be undertaken as formal subjects, or individual units. This provides a great opportunity for high achieving students to challenge themselves and extend their skills in performance. Before enrolling, students must seek the advice of the Director of Music.

Over 75% of students at Westminster are involved in music in some form. Music is undertaken by all students as a subject from Reception to Year 7. At Year 8, students choose music as an elective subject. This can be followed as a subject through to Year 12 (Stage 2 level). In most cases all units of study at Stage 2 level are offered.

Special Programs

Year 2 String Program

As a part of the music curriculum all Year 2 students undertake tuition on a stringed instrument. Violin, viola and cello are offered, and taught to small groups during class time. Specialist teachers direct the students on their instruments. Each week an ensemble session is also taken by a specialist string tutor. At the end of Semester 1 all Year 2 students are involved in a concert for parents.

The cost of the program is included in the School fees and is heavily subsidized by the School. At the end of the program students are encouraged to continue learning on their chosen instrument.

Year 5 Brass and Woodwind Program

As a part of the music curriculum all Year 5 students undertake tuition on a brass or woodwind instrument. Flute, clarinet, trumpet and trombone are offered, and taught to small groups during class time. Also, a small number of students are offered bass guitar lessons. Specialist teachers direct the students on their instruments. Each week an ensemble session is also taken by a specialist tutor. In Semester 2, the Year 5 students have an additional ensemble lesson where they all come together to form one large band. At the end of the year all Year 5 students are involved in a concert for parents.

The cost of the program is included in the School fees and is heavily subsidized by the School. At the end of the program students are encouraged to continue learning on their chosen instrument.

Year 8 Instrument Program

In Year 8 all elective music students are encouraged to undertake tuition on a wind instrument. This assists the student to consolidate theory concepts such as rhythm and melody. After an orientation process, an information evening is held for all music students and parents. Students can choose from all woodwind and brass instruments. Those who are learning piano, voice or rhythm section instruments are strongly urged to undertake tuition on a wind instrument.

Beginner students, in most cases, are provided with the instrument free of charge for one semester. Tuition is undertaken in groups of two and three for Semester 1. Tuition fees are covered by the Music Department in an effort to encourage students to continue learning their chosen instrument.

For more details about these programs please contact the Director of Music at Westminster.

Co-curricular program

Westminster School offers an extensive and varied co-curricular program, and we strongly encourage our students to participate fully in it. The Performing Arts aspects of this program includes:

     Drama (Junior Play and Musical)

     Co-Curricular Dance

     Music (Bands, Small Ensembles and Choirs)

Westminster seeks to provide opportunities for students to discover personal/individual talents and interests. The Performing Arts activities should complement the student’s academic (curricular) program, thus developing a balanced education for each child. These activities not only allow opportunity for individual and group/team involvement, but also provide a chance for students to find success and a sense of their own personal worth beyond the classroom.

Student participation

The School firmly believes in the worth and fulfillment of participation in co-curricular activities and offers a wide range of such activities. This provides a different environment to the classroom and encourages further interaction between students. In Years 8 to 12 the School encourages and expects involvement of all students in the School’s co-curricular program. In a situation where any student may find difficulty conforming with the School’s co-curricular policy, parents are encouraged to discuss the matter with the Head of Performing Arts or the Head of Senior School.


Practices/rehearsals are held before, during and after school, usually from 7.30 am onwards unless otherwise arranged. The student must attend all practices, and it is the responsibility of the child or parent to inform the Director/staff member if the student is unable to attend.

Simultaneous practices/rehearsal

Where students can be involved in any co-curricular activities that occur simultaneously, there can be concerns with attendance at practices/rehearsals. The School policy is that no child should be penalized in any activity as a result of the breadth of their involvement.

If a student cannot attend both activities, then the student:

1.    must attend at least one practice/rehearsal per week for each activity. However music ensembles generally rehearse once per week. In this case a choice will need to be made; and

2.    must inform the Director of Music.

Senior Music Groups

(Groups may be formed dependent on numbers)

Flute Ensemble by invitation (may require audition)

Junior Concert Band by invitation

Percussion Ensemble by invitation

Senior Concert Band no age restriction, by audition

Senior Orchestra by invitation

Big Bands selected from Senior Concert Band members, by audition

Senior String Ensemble selected from Orchestra members

Vocal Ensemble by invitation

Vocal Jazz Ensemble selected from Vocal Ensemble members, by audition

Guitar Ensembles by invitation

Jazz Ensemble by invitation

Rock Bands (Junior and Senior) - by invitation (may require audition)


Once a student becomes a member of any of the above ensembles a commitment for the calendar year is expected, including all rehearsals and performances. Any variations of this must be discussed with the Director of Music well in advance. All students who become involved in these ensembles must sign a ‘Conditions of Membership’ form before rehearsals are undertaken.

Preparatory School Music Program

Music education plays an important role at Westminster Preparatory School, as we seek to nurture children’s enjoyment and understanding of music. Our diverse music program consists of weekly classroom lessons, an instrumental tuition program and a co-curricular program. Our Music department is based in the heart of the Senior School, providing our Preparatory School students with the unique opportunity of working in close conjunction with Senior School music students, whilst accessing excellent facilities.

In addition to the Music program that features in the Preparatory School curriculum, there are many elective activities involving music.

Classroom Music Curriculum

Reception and Year 1

Musical concepts are taught through the use of both Orff Schulwerk and Kodaly methodologies. Students experience the joy of music and learn about basic music elements through singing, movement, written and instrument work. The musical highlight for the year is the Junior Primary Nativity, which involves all students from all Junior Primary year levels.

Year 2

The focus in Year 2 music is the string program. Each child learns the violin, viola or cello for approximately three terms. Within this program students experience both small group and ensemble rehearsals. The program then culminates in a concert for parents to enjoy. Following this, the Year 2 students begin preparing for the Junior Primary Nativity in which they take a lead role both dramatically and musically.

Years 3 and 4

Music classes focus on an Orff Schulwerk-based program. There is a particular focus on the use of percussion instruments (un-tuned and tuned) as students’ ensemble and reading skills are developed in preparation for the Year 5 Band program.

Year 5

The focus in Year 5 music is the Band program. Each child learns the flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, or bass guitar within small groups for the entire year. In Semester 2, all Year 5 students then combine to form two large band groups in which they have weekly hour rehearsals. The program culminates in a concert for parents to enjoy.

Years 6 and 7

At Westminster we have a large number of children who learn an instrument. To nurture and develop their skills we offer an ensemble group as a part of the Years 6 and 7 program. Students in Year 6 and 7 are either involved in our class ensemble, guitar ensemble, or general music group.