The Westburn Music Programme

Westburn Te Kura o Hereora offers a distinctive music programme, unique from other schools throughout New Zealand. The Specialist Music Programme (SMP) has been established to provide the best possible standard of education, training and musical opportunities for children with high musical talent and potential.

Richard Oswin, a highly-skilled and experienced teacher of music, is the SMP Director. Dr Patrick Shepherd who lectures in music at the University of Canterbury is the President of the SMP programme, works with and supports our Westburn students.

What kind of Music Programme is provided to SMP students?

On Wednesday afternoons, Richard teaches a programme that is designed to extend every one of our students. In 2023 this has included study of periods in music and the music of specific composers. We started with baroque, then moved to classical.

We generally begin with a listening activity designed to develop aural ability. We analyse the performances of others and watch and listen to orchestras whose players use authentic instruments for the period we are studying. We study instrumentation, playing styles, and sounds of the instruments of the day.

  1. Our SMP orchestra plays selected pieces of music from composers of each period, under the directorship of Richard Oswin. The arrangements of these pieces are designed specifically to cater for the learning stages and instrumentation available within the group.
  2. Aural perception and theory is next. We work to develop the ear, record rhythmic and melodic dictation, and explore aspects of theory such as intervals, cadences, and four-part harmony.
  3. Solo performances are heard from every member of the class. Each student plays a piece of music, at least once a term, and explains what aspect of the piece they have been working on with their teacher. Students offer positive feedback and Richard may offer a helpful tip as to how it might be improved.
  4. The SMP group becomes a choir where we sing selected songs in harmony.
  5. During the third term, the students play in small chamber groups such as trios and quartets and are tutored by specialist teachers.

It’s a busy programme but, as Richard is a registered school teacher, he is very mindful of the need for children to enjoy what they are doing as well as being extended.

SMP Appraisal Concerts

Two formal appraisal concerts are held each year, one mid- year and one at the end of the year. At each concert, every SMP student presents a piece as a soloist. Their performance is enjoyed by not only parents and friends, but by two highly regarded music educators who write a detailed report for each student, highlighting positive feedback and suggesting occasional advice.

SMP Achievement and Support

SMP students must be enrolled in weekly lessons with an instrumental teacher. The instrumental teacher, parents and SMP teacher need to be in contact in order to support the student in their 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. The classes and workshops provided by SMP encourage and support students to develop positive attitudes towards performance, focussed practice and organisation. In SMP, we foster an environment where students are supported, and where they support each other with a generous and sensitive spirit.

Performance opportunities

Because Westburn SMP is highly regarded, we often receive invitations to perform at various events such as the Aurora Festival and Burnside High School Junior Showcase, where our school orchestra will play pieces that they have learned alongside secondary students.

SMP attitude

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, 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’ which we enact through living our values in daily interactions.

SMP extra-curricular involvement

Westburn Ensembles – SMP students are all members of the Senior Choir and the Westburn Symphony Orchestra. This is a compulsory requirement. Madeleine Gillman takes both groups during the week, with Dr Patrick Shepherd and Dr Helen Renaud assisting with the orchestra.

Christchurch Schools’ Music Festival SMP students are expected to audition for representative groups each year and, if selected, represent Westburn at the Christchurch Schools’ Music Festival, the premier Christchurch primary schools’ music event.

Christchurch Symphony Orchestra (CSO) Intermediate Ambassadors – Two SMP students are invited to represent

Westburn SMP as CSO Ambassadors. These students attend CSO concerts throughout the year for free as well as attend rehearsals and engage with CSO staff and musicians. Ambassadors coordinate students from their school to attend selected free concerts and rehearsals, and are responsible for disseminating information about CSO events within their school.

Introducing our SMP Director: Richard Oswin – MA (Auck), LRSM, ATCL, Dip. Tchg.

Richard is well known to Christchurch musicians through his many years of involvement as pianist, composer, and then Musical Director of the Christchurch Schools’ Music Festival. Since retiring as Deputy Principal of Elmwood Normal School, Richard has worked as a tutor with the New Zealand Graduate School of Education.

He is also in high demand as a free-lance arranger/composer, accompanist, and conductor in Christchurch. Richard plans the SMP teaching and learning programme and provides support in a number of ways including teaching theory, conducting the SMP orchestra, and acting as an ensemble tutor, as well as providing accompaniment and arrangements for SMP students.

Westburn SMP dress requirements

There are two dress codes for SMP performances:

For appraisal performances students are required to wear black and/or white clothing, including shoes.

For all other performances students are required to wear Westburn’s performance uniform which is our traditional winter school uniform, supplemented by long-sleeved shirts and ties which are available to hire from the school office.

What are SMP fees? Each year the SMP Council sets the fee for the subsequent year. Mindful of the current economic climate, the fee has remained at $350 per annum for several years. While Westburn Te Kura o Hereora employs the SMP Director, SMP fees provide resourcing for additional tutors and activities. Audition information for 2024 Enrolment for the SMP programme is now open and will close on Thursday, 24th August at 3pm.

Auditions for 2024 will be held during the week of 28 August – 01 September 2024. Parents will be advised whether their child has been successful by Friday 08 September 2024. Successful applicants will be offered a place at Westburn and into the SMP programme. Note: Your child does not have to live in Westburn’s enrolment zone when applying. A place will be offered if your child is successful.

What is involved in the audition process?

At the audition students are asked to play a piece of music with their instrument/s, including voice, and respond to a few ear tests. A panel of 3 – 4 members of the SMP Council consider each applicant. Students are required to audition successfully only once during their time at Westburn Te Kura o Hereora. If a younger student is not successful, it is possible to re-apply the following year.

Application process

  1. Parents and children decide to apply for Westburn SMP from 2024.
  2. The application form on the SMP website is completed and forwarded by 3 pm on 24 August 2024 to: [email protected]
  3. Parents are advised of an audition time during the week of 28 August – 01 September 2024.
  4. Parents are advised of their child’s success in the audition by 08 September.
  5. Enrolment at Westburn Te Kura o Hereora for 2024:

a. Successful applicants who live in Westburn’s zone will be pre-enrolled prior to the end of the year;

b. Successful applicants who live outside Westburn’s zone will need to apply in the out-of-zone ballot for 2024 by 20 September 2023. This process is a formality but must be completed by this date.

For further information, please contact our Music Director, Madeleine Gillman: [email protected]