Music is offered in the Preparatory school on two levels: as an extra-mural activity, with individual lessons and participation possible in a wide variety of ensembles, or as a formal subject.
Concerts are held for each year group every term where boys perform for their peers and parents. Options include learning to play an instrument, playing in one of several active ensembles, the jazz band and the marimba band, singing in the Senior Choir or specialising in the smaller Schola Cantorum.
Practical work is assessed on a formal basis during termly concerts. Boys in instrumental ensembles are assessed by teachers in charge of those ensembles; boys in the Senior Choir and Schola Cantorum are assessed during the term by the choirmaster.
Boys from Upper I and Lower II are given the opportunity to audition for the Jolly Choir at the beginning of the academic year.
The choir members are introduced to Western and African music with the use of good vocal technique and music reading skills. Hopefully they will all graduate from the Jolly Choir to the Senior Choir, where they will be introduced to more demanding and challenging works.
The Preparatory School Senior Choir consists of about 35 boys, ranging from Upper II to Upper III.
They combine with the College Choir to provide the treble line in more advanced four-part music and the singing of major choral works such as Mozart’s Requiem and Bach’s St John Passion. A small group from this ensemble forms the Schola Cantorum which performs a more demanding repertoire with the College Choir.
This foundational ensemble has been established for Lower III and Upper III boys to provide a natural feeder for the College Wind and Jazz bands. The ensemble consists of a rhythm section and front-line brass and reed players.
The ensemble plays at assemblies, at Prize Giving and other functions where the aim is to enjoy music and to develop a good performance ethos.
The String Programme at St John’s has boys taking individual lessons and participating in the various ensembles, including three string ensembles. It is an essential part of a string player’s education to learn how to play in an orchestra. The Vigoroso Orchestra consists of only U1 learners and has performed with success at various functions. The Junior and Senior Prep Ensembles have a tradition of performing at various functions both inside and outside the school. The ensemble players are entered for ensemble examinations, and individual members are entered for Associated Board and Trinity Examinations. Several of the senior players regularly join the College String Ensemble, and some of them are members of the Johannesburg Youth Orchestra.
A group of enthusiastic boys get together on a regular basis to form the Junior and Senior Marimba Bands. These boys play popular African works, and enjoy performing at the Prep assembly.
Our recorder pupils perform in an ensemble using descant, treble and tenor recorders, with the inclusion of a double bass player. The ensemble performs at the termly instrumental concerts and is also interested in entering the Trinity College Ensemble Examination. A selection of Baroque, modern and African pieces are included for examination purposes.