In addition to instrumental training the school provides a full range of complementary music studies. We believe that it is important for performers to have expert knowledge about the music that they play. This expertise might be historical, or biographical, or might involve compositional, harmonic or rhythmic skills.
All students have at least one session per week of aural training. Critical listening is something that musicians do constantly, whether it's the first read-through or the fiftieth concert, and here at the school we keep our students' ears and listening-brains in excellent shape. Students also have weekly lessons in traditional music theory and harmony, and by the end of their time at the school will be adept in a range of harmonic styles from Baroque through to contemporary. Musicians at the school have regular opportunities to flex their aural and harmonic muscles in our improvisation workshops.
Students also learn about the history of music. Our focus is, of course, on the Western 'Classical' tradition but we study many other types of music in some depth - pop and rock, dance, jazz, musicals, folk music from India, Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America. Older students also examine the issues surrounding historical performance practice.
Musicians at the Menuhin School take EdExcel's GCSE exam in year 10. This syllabus covers a wide range of music styles and is very popular with the students.
Older students take music A-level. This is a demanding syllabus (Cambridge International) that requires a number of performances, advanced harmony studies, three compositions and in-depth study of a number of set-works. These set works include music from the Renaissance until the present day.
The music department is very proud of its results at GCSE and A-level: 95% of our students manage A* or A-grades.
Oscar Colomina I Bosch
John Cooney was born in Manchester. After reading Music at Cardiff University he studied composition at the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where his teachers included Simon Bainbridge, George Benjamin, Robert Saxton and Anthony Powers. He also attended courses led by Colin Matthews, Oliver Knussen, Per Nørgård and Peter Eötvös.
A first encounter with the music of Magnus Lindberg in 1991 made a big impact and led to private study with Lindberg in London and Paris. In addition to the continuing importance of Lindberg's music, more recent influences include the music of Pascal Dusapin and Unsuk Chin. Cooney's music also draws inspiration from poetry and visual art, particularly the poems of Philippe Jaccottet and the paintings of Per Kirkeby and Jon Schueler.
Cooney's music first drew critical attention when, as a student, he was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize. Other prizes followed, including the Arts Council Dio Fund Award and the Japan International League of Artists Chamber Music Prize. Cooney has been Composer in Association with the Allegri String Quartet and was Composer in Residence with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra on both the Ninth and Tenth Strathclyde Concerto Projects.
Cooney's music first drew critical attention when, as a student, he was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize. Other prizes followed, including the Arts Council Dio Fund Award and the Japan International League of Artists Chamber Music Prize. Cooney has been Composer in Association with the Allegri String Quartet and was Composer in Residence with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra on both the Ninth and Tenth Strathclyde Concerto Projects. He also spent several years as Composer in Residence with the Education Department of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields.
Cooney's music has been commissioned and performed by a wide array of ensembles including the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Nash Ensemble, Allegri String Quartet, London Sinfonietta, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Delta Saxophone Quartet, Chroma, Psappha, Capricorn and Brunel Ensemble. His music has also been included in the Aldeburgh, Huddersfield, Spitalfields, Bath and Vale of Glamorgan festivals and is available on NMC Records.
John Cooney is renowned for his work in music education and currently teaches composition at the Yehudi Menuhin School and the Royal Academy of Music Junior Department. In recent years he has been increasingly sought after as a lecturer, holding posts as a Visiting Lecturer in Composition at Royal Holloway, University of London and Associate Tutor in Composition at Cardiff University. In addition he has led major education projects for the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, English National Opera, South Bank Centre, Brodsky Quartet, City of London Sinfonia, London Sinfonietta, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and many others. Projects abroad include the ISCM World Music Days in Yokohama, Ile de France Opera et Ballet and Muziekcentrum Vredenburg. In 2013 John was elected an Honorary Associate of the Royal Academy of Music for his services to composition and to music education.