Huntingdonshire Music School Association

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Group Work

Everyone at the music school gets the opportunity to play in one or more groups whether they be an ensemble, band, or orchestra. These cover musical style ranging from classical, swing to rock. Depending on the enthusiasm of potential musicians, new ones are being added - for example the rock band(s) are new and permanent fixtures and this year saw the first performance of the flute choir.

Unlike most other musical institutes, there is no mandated minimum grade or level to attain before you are allowed to join in. This does not mean that the standard of playing is lowered - far from it (bands such as the Swing Band play in paying fixtures and are in great demand). Your music teacher will normally suggest when it is sensible for you to join in. When starting out you are not expected to be able to play every note - so long as you play the ones you do know at the right time and keep quiet at other times then others will be none the wiser;-)

Group work is an integral part of the day in addition to the music lessons and theory. In fact one of the real benefit of this college is that you do play in groups (almost impossible to get this sort of experience otherwise as an adult) as part of the package.

You can play in as many groups as you’ve the time and energy for, for the same small amount.

You don’t have to take lessons in order to join a group. We also have Associate Members who either take lessons elsewhere (or not at all!) and who simply join us for group playing. See the current set of ensemb;es, bands and orchestras...

See also

Play (Music ;-) )with Others
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Choosing an Instrument

There are many reasons for learning a musical instrument (and this includes singing), including:-

  • it’s a skill for life (many of us return to it later on in life)
  • it’s fun
  • it feels good to ‘make music’ with others in a group situation
  • it’s different to school or work and a relaxing diversion
  • it’s therapy
  • it helps develop parts of the brain that benefit other subject areas e.g. maths
  • someone else you know plays and you’d like to join in with them(a precious chance to bond with the kids, perhaps)
  • you like learning new things
  • you already take someone to music lessons and are fed up with merely being seen as a source of ready cash and transport
  • you didn’t get the chance at school or earlier in life, for whatever reason

What you may not realise is that the Huntingdonshire Music School is one of the largest music schools in the UK and, apart from sitting humbly on the doorstep for some 38 years, offers many benefits that are very difficult to get elsewhere:-

[[]]A prospectus is available from this site.

Musical Instruments

Having decided that you or your offspring is interested in learning music, what is it that you/they wish to learn?

Whilst we cater for most instruments (and if enough come forwards for the Mongolian Nose Flute we could probably add this as well..), there are factors worth considering before taking the plunge, including


Instrument popularity fluctuates and fashions are established. For example, nationally within the UK there has been a fall in the number of those playing the Oboe and stringed instruments e.g. violin, viola,cello. Wanting to learn a popular instrument might mean that there are plenty of potential tutors, but few spaces as they are constantly over-subscribed.

At HUMS we do monitor closely and can bring in extra staff if this looks to be happening. A popular instrument will have a larger second-hand market and therefore more choice when buying privately. Getting hold of music books isn’t a problem since these can always be ordered of the phone from a local music shop or online via the Internet.


You Can't Fit These In Your Pocket ...

This isn’t as daft as it sounds - whilst it’s not like buying a baby pet to later find out that it fills the kitchen, you do need to think about this.

  • Carrying. A flute is obviously small whilst a double bass is very large. Their carrying cases add to the bulk and the weight. In general the more protection a case offers, the worse it gets.
  • Playing. Can the person learning play the full-sized instrument or will they need a smaller version, if available? Classical and acoustic guitars,for example, can be bought as 3/4 size for the smaller child. On the other hand if you’re under 5 feet tall you might struggle with a double bass.
  • Storing. Do you have the space to store it at home?If you want to play the piano but don’t have space for a grand piano or upright then you might think about a keyboard or electric piano which can be collapsible. A drum kit will probably need to have a permanent space.
  • Transporting. Can you fit it in the car with passengers to attend lessons?

Noise and Musical Style

The first certainly comes before the other! The sorts of sounds we all produce at first are far removed from the final polished version- can you and the neighbours cope? At first you’ll probably need to allow for about 15 minutes practice a day. This gets longer as you/they get better (but so does the sound and musical pieces!).

Do you want to join in a group, such as an ensemble, band or orchestra?You therefore need to consider the sorts of instruments that they play- there’s no point in learning the recorder if you really wanted to play in the Swing Band. Equally, some instruments fit in with more than one type of group. Another solution is that many people play more than one instrument.

Types of Instruments in HUMS Groups
HUMS Band Instrument(s)
Brass Ensemble  
Flute Choir Flute
Guitar Ensemble Classical Guitar
Prep./Intermediate/senior Concert Band  
Rock Band Electric guitar, keyboard, drums
Percussion Ensemble  
Saxophone EnsembleSaxophone - Alto, Tenor, Baritone
String Ensemble  
Swing Band  



The cost of learning a musical instrument consists of:-

  • instrument. Instruments can be bought new - outright or as a rent/buy agreement, second-hand or simply rented. We also have a small stock of loan instruments which surface from time to time. For school age children help is available. Instruments also need to be maintained as parts wear out and need adjusting.
  • books. This includes music tutor books, theory aid and exercise books.
  • tuition. This is the same irrespective of instrument. The tuition fee increases at Grade 5 and beyond simply because the lessons are twice as long. Beyond Grade 5 you don’t strictly need the theory element, other than as practice.
  • exam fees (if taken). If your tutor enters you for an exam there is a registration fee payable. Again,this increases with Grade since the exam is longer and you’re paying for the external examiner’s time.

See also

Play (Music ;-) )with OthersPublic Work

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Adult Invovement

Adults appear at or around the college in all guises.


Some simply deliver the kids and wait in the canteen refectory until the kids have finished. Many give in the unequal struggle and learn something themselves. It’s much easier to tell them to practice their scales when they can see that you have to do them….

Some know that they want to learn an instrument from day 1 and simply get stuck in.

Others reach a point in their lives, such as retirement, and decide that they’re not ready to surrender and learn the instrument that they’d always wanted to but didn’t previously have the opportunity to.

Some help by way of either taking part directly in the association (HUMSA) and it’s activities including:-

  • this website (and we always need contributors, photographers , budding graphic designers)
  • publicity material
  • talking to potential sponsors
  • committee posts
  • public events
  • catering for college events
  • ‘roadies’ for gigs
  • looking after equipment


Some might be budding experts/tutors in anything from an instrument to composition to the application of music technology.

See also

HUMSA - The Association that Supports the Music School
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