Applications for entry to the SMP Programme for 2019 are now open.

Key dates:

    • Wednesday 22nd August 2018: Auditions for 2019
    • Friday 17th August 2018: Applications close

Please complete the online application form on this website.


Westburn School runs the Specialist Music Programme (SMP) for students between years 5-8. Auditions are held every August (or by appointment), and successful applicants living outside of the Westburn School enrolment zone are exempt from zoning restrictions. Students in the programme are required to pay an SMP fee in addition to normal school fees.

Enrichment Classes and Chamber Groups

Starting midway through term one, these are held each Wednesday from 1:15pm – 3:15pm in the music room at Westburn School. During this time students study specialised topics such as the history of music, composition, theory, aural, movement and music, and experience a variety of different styles of music. Students also attend chamber group rehearsals during these sessions; specialist teachers/musicians assist to tutor and prepare the students for performance at two appraisal concerts in which all SMP students perform as soloists, and as a member of a chamber group.

During term 1, SMP students work together in forming a chamber orchestra, and a chamber choir. The chamber orchestra learns music arranged to cater for the makeup of the year’s unique instrumental ensemble, and slightly stretches the capability of each student. Choral and vocal technique are taught through participation in the chamber choir. Students learn songs that have harmony in two – four parts; performance from memory is expected for recital.

From term 2 students are placed in a small chamber groups where they work with a dedicated tutor. Chamber groups may change after the first appraisal concert to give students the opportunity to focus on different instruments and/or work with different tutors.

Two formal appraisal concerts are held each year in which every student presents a piece as a soloist. Students are appraised by two highly regarded specialists who write a detailed report for each student. These concerts are held in early August and early December each year. The August 2018 appraisal is to be held at the University of Canterbury School of Music in the Arts Centre Recital Room on August 2nd, at 6:15pm.


At these concerts, along with their solo work, students will exhibit other work completed including a presentation of the term’s topic work, and all of the chamber groups perform their pieces. Scholarships of substantial value are usually awarded most years from Soroptimist International of Christchurch, Robert and Barbara Stewart Charitable Trust, ROSL (Royal Overseas League), and Burnside High School SMP. Guest performers from JEM, SMP Burnside, or the University of Canterbury may take part.

SMP Camp

This event provides an opportunity for all students to get to know each other and to integrate new students into the programme. It is usually held in the second weekend of term 2, from 5:00pm on Friday night through until around 6:00pm on Saturday evening.

Parents volunteer to assist with food and transport on the Friday evening to an activity such as trampolining/movies/laser strike.

On Saturday morning the students meet at school and spend most of the day attending workshops relating to goal setting. The students also rehearse and parents return for an informal late afternoon concert at school, followed by a shared dinner.


Throughout the year students will be required to attend and perform at various concerts. Some will be within school hours while others will be in the evening.

Achievement and support

SMP students must be enrolled in weekly lessons with an instrumental teacher. The instrumental teacher, parents and SMP teacher must be in contact in order to support the student in his/her achievement.

SMP students should be preparing for grade examinations (both practical and theory) and/or Suzuki graduations and/or competitions run by the Music Society. Students are expected to have good practice routines, and be focussed on a course of personal achievement.


All SMP students are expected to be mindful of their role in actively inspiring a collegial spirit within the programme. SMP students support, care for, encourage, and both inspire and gain inspiration from each other. SMP students are positive role models who live by the values of Westburn School: Respect/Whakaute, Excellence/Hiranga, and Citizenship/Whanonga tika. Our school vision is “Today’s learners, tomorrow’s leaders” and we enact our vision through living our values in daily interactions.

SMP 2018

During term 1 SMP students studied The Renaissance. The chamber orchestra learned and performed three dances from the Renaissance period; they also studied the features of music in the Renaissance as well as European history between 1400-1600 A.D.

In term 2 the SMP class was divided into five smaller chamber groups:

  • a jazz duo tutored by Dr Patrick Shepherd;
  • a piano trio tutored by Jonathan Tanner;
  • a woodwind ensemble tutored by Matthew Lee ;
  • a vocal group tutored by Jasmine Webster; and
  • a piano quartet tutored by Victoria Panckhurst.

Class time was also spent on an extensive composition unit taught by Dr Patrick Shepherd, in which students considered how music is made. Linking their practical work with their theory work, they dug deep to understand the basics of music. Students reflected on the ‘make up’ of a person, considering our physical and emotional make up, and compared this to the structure and life force of music. They studied the evolution of notation from Gregorian chant/plainsong in medieval music. Each student composed their own plainsong piece which was gradually developed rhythmically and harmonically, and then formed into a combined minimalist piece in the style of Arvo Pärt. These were then performed together as a class on a range of instruments with tintinnabular qualities.

Terms 3 and 4 will see a continued focus on music history with an emphasis on early music. Practically, this will be supported by participation in a recorder ensemble made up of a range of instruments from soprano to bass recorders. Students will also be learning to podcast over internet radio, and we hope to visit various studios around the city. Chamber groups will continue and the students will present all of this – their solo, group, and topic work – at the two recitals held each year.

JEM (Junior Extension Music) Programme

Westburn School also runs a Junior Extension Music (JEM) programme for students in years 3 & 4, who currently attend Westburn School. JEM is independent of SMP and participation in JEM does not guarantee entry into SMP. Assistance in preparing students for SMP auditions is a part of the programme, but JEM should neither be considered a prerequisite for, or assurity of a place in, SMP.

JEM is run as two 45 minute sessions for selected years 3 and 4 students by Heather Libeau-Dow on Monday afternoons between 1:30pm & 3:00pm. To be considered for JEM students do not need to be learning an instrument, though it is expected children will begin private lessons on an instrument. If needed, Heather and Victoria are happy to be involved in assisting parents and children find the right instrument and teacher for them.

The content of the JEM programme covers musicianship and musical literacy. By listening, playing, and improvising, the students develop understanding of fundamental concepts (beat, rhythm, dynamics, tempo, tone colour, form) and are able to describe and demonstrate these through the use of instruments.

JEM is based on the pedagogical principles of Carl Orff and creativity is at the heart of the approach. Students learn tuned and untuned percussion, voice, and recorder in their Monday afternoon sessions. Working with these instruments supports the learning of, and advances progression on, any instrument the child is currently learning or will learn in the future. Students in JEM learn to be confident, comfortable, and secure artists. JEM supports our young musicians, their families, and the children’s instrumental teachers in encouraging the children to develop good practice routines, and confidence performing.

Theory and aural work, following the main examination boards’ curricula, is part of the course and the delivery is mainly practical, especially at the earlier stages. This is because the objective of JEM is to foster a love for music, and to motivate our children to engage in their musical education.

Instrumental Lessons at Westburn School

Students are able to learn musical instruments during the school day. Many instruments are available for hire.
Suzuki violin and Suzuki cello lessons are available for students from years 1-8.
From year 3, students are able to undertake lessons in the following instruments:

  • violin
  • viola
  • cello
  • flute
  • clarinet
  • saxophone
  • guitar
  • bass guitar
  • drum kit
  • orchestral percussion
  • keyboard
  • piano

Extra Curricular Music Activities at Westburn School

SMP students are all members of the senior choir, orchestra and, if asked, Big Band (Jazz Band). SMP students are also expected to audition for representative groups each year, and if selected, represent Westburn at the Christchurch Schools’ Music Festival, the premier Christchurch musical event which showcases and celebrates the city’s youngest and brightest stars.

Junior Choir

An all-comers choir led by Heidi Marshall, for students in years 4 & 5. The choir rehearses on Tuesday mornings from 8:30am-9:00am, preparing for annual performances at the Kids for Kids concert and other school events.

Westburn Chorale (Senior Choir)

An auditioned choir led by Jasmine Webster open to Westburn students in years 6-8. All SMP students are members of this choir. Rehearsals take place on Wednesday mornings from 8:15am – 9:15am. The choir is usually made up of 60-75 members and performs in the North West Festival, the Christchurch Schools’ Music Festival, school concerts and other community events. The Westburn Chorale is a motivated group of students who pride themselves on performing at the best of their ability. The choir sings a range of music, usually in two or three part harmony.

WJO (Westburn Symphony Orchestra)

Westburn students who play an orchestral instrument, can read music, and have been learning for at least one year, are encouraged to audition for the Westburn School Orchestra led by Victoria Panckhurst. All SMP students are members of WJO. The orchestra has between 40-60 players with strong string, woodwind, brass and percussion sections.  

WJO play a variety of music to engage and stretch the children’s knowledge, appreciation and understanding of music. Dr Patrick Shepherd often assists with rehearsals and also arranges pieces for the orchestra to perform. WJO performances are keenly anticipated and of a very high standard. The orchestra rehearses on Thursday afternoons from 3:00pm – 4:30pm, and performs annually at the North West Festival, with Burnside High School at the Junior Showcase in September and at other school and community events.

DubJub (Big Band)

Students who play a jazz instrument are welcome to audition for Westburn’s Big Band “DubJub”, led by Victoria Panckhurst. Students meet on Thursday lunchtimes, learning to improvise and to play in a range of genres. DubJub take part in Junior Jazz Jam (an event for Christchurch primary school jazz bands) and in the Christchurch Big Band Festival which takes place over Labour Weekend. Dr Patrick Shepherd is often in attendance as a player/tutor, and the students also enjoy visits from Chris Petch and the Burnside High jazz musicians. Rehearsals have been known to double as lunchtime concerts for Westburn students, and the band enjoys performing whenever possible.

Ukulele Club, Recorder Ensemble, and Percussion Group

Students from year 3 who love to sing and play ukulele meet on Wednesday lunchtimes with Victoria Panckhurst and Leonie Jackson to learn chords and new songs. Westburn endeavours to have students participate in the Strike Strum and Blow concert every year, and students learning recorder, and percussion instruments are able to perform in this wonderful show every August.

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