Waimairi-iri Burnside High School Specialist Music Programme

Creating opportunities for high-performing musicians to work alongside similarly minded students, guided by tuition from professional musicians.

Applications are now closed for the year.

Enrich Your Music Education at Waimairi-iri Burnside High School

Our aim is to provide the highest possible level of music education for our musically gifted secondary-aged students. Back in 1995, the initial cohort of Burnside SMP students comprised 29 students, specialising in either Woodwind, Brass, Strings, Voice or Piano, however the programme has grown over the years and now has around 100 members, divided fairly evenly across years 9-13, and includes the opportunity to specialise in Jazz. Entry is by audition; each year we welcome between 15 and 20 new members, mostly into Year 9, but also from upper year levels.

The programme follows a junior conservatoire style structure in its delivery, but within the confines of mainstream secondary education system – never an easy task! All SMP students therefore follow the same curriculum as the rest of the school and are fully integrated within co-curricular musical groups (orchestras, bands, choirs etc.).

SMP specific activities run outside of school hours and the content typically looks like this:

  • A weekly private lesson on their specialist instrument, outside of school hours, with a specialist tutor who is able to support and meet the aims and standards of the programme as a whole.
  • A weekly masterclass after school; these are in mixed age but instrument specific groups and led by a specialist tutor – our SMP tutors are all highly qualified and experienced professional performers.
  • Chamber Music for all SMP instrumentalists; we have around 20 chamber music groups running each year; all of them perform at the NZCT Chamber Music Contest and we have enjoyed considerable success in this competition over the years.
  • Mid-year and end-of-year solo recitals.
  • Special “one-off” SMP masterclasses and projects with visiting artists.
  • Music as a compulsory curriculum subject through junior years, NCEA, and now with the added option of Cambridge iGCSE, AS and A Level. We provide an all-encompassing academic programme that we see as fundamental in supporting performance work, starting in Year 9 with a particular focus on Theory and Aural alongside Music History and Composition. Currently, NCEA studies allow for further specialism with innovative new courses available in Music Technology, Conducting and Contemporary Music.
  • Co-curricular ensemble rehearsals and performances.
  • SMP Pianists and Vocalists are encouraged to begin learning an orchestral/band instrument from Year 9.

Put simply, the Specialist Music Programme is for the most talented of young musicians who wish to make Music their priority for the whole of their high school years and have the drive, commitment and wider support network to sustain a five-year-long drive for excellence. To put this in context, there are around 600 students involved in Music in some way at Burnside, either taking music courses, having instrumental lessons, or playing and singing in co-curricular ensembles, or which around 100 are SMP students.

We are fortunate to have a full Symphony Orchestra, Symphonic Wind Band, Big Band, Funk Band, Contemporary Band and a range of choirs, all of whom achieve consistently high results on the concert and competition stage, as well as a uniquely designed Performance Music Programme for years nine and ten where the foundations are laid.

Much of this success is due to the relentless drive and dedication of the Burnside Music Department team of staff. It has always been our guiding principle at Burnside that Music be delivered by highly specialist teachers who are allowed to teach mainly within their specialist area; we are fortunate that our student numbers and therefore staffing hours are higher than most schools which enables us to do this – everyone benefits. The world is littered with SMP graduates who are forging successful musical careers, both here in New Zealand and overseas, as well as those who pursued alternative career paths but recognise the extraordinary value that being a member of SMP at Burnside High School added to their secondary education.

If, after browsing our website, this sounds like the programme for you, please come and join us!

Students in action

Chamber Music

BHS Orchestra

Big Band

Bel Canto

Senior Chorale