Friends of Hillingdon Music Service
Registered Charity Number: 293047


Frequently Asked Questions

Who's who at the Music Hub?
What is a typical morning at Music School?
What should my child take to Music School on their first day?
My child is unwell or unable to attend. Should I let someone know?
How can my child progress through Music School?
What is special place tuition?
How many concerts are there each year?
How should my child dress for a concert?
Will my child be able to go on overseas tours?
Why do some students take Trinity Guildhall instrumental exams and others ABRSM?
What accessories are available for purchase at reception?

What do the Friends Do?
Who's who in the Friends?
What do I do if I have difficulty paying the fees?
What can I do to help the Friends?

Who's who at the Music Hub?

The people you are most likely to come into contact with are:

Saturday Music School, The John Locke Academy, Bader Way, St Andrew's Park, Uxbridge UB10 0FW:
Cathy Handley Music Hub Manager
Rob Workman Progression and Ensembles Coordinator and the overall manager for Standard and Advanced Tuition and Music School
Tim Saward Museums and Performing Arts Manager
Rob Haggar Ensemble and Events Officer / Database and Inventory Officer
Reception Team Christine, Michelle, Jill, Danielle, Kevin and Ellie
Angela Brennan Director of String Sinfonia
Jo Slade Director of Training Band and Joint Director of Junior Band
Matt Thomas Director of Symphony Orchestra and the Concert Band
Melvyn Care leader of the Jazz Band and Admissions and Learning Progression Officer
Lucy Cumming Director of Philharmonic Orchestra and Philharmonic Strings
Ian Cumming Director of Wind Band and Joint Director of Junior Band
Christian Halford Director of Repertiore Stings and Repertoire Orchestra
Frank St John Director of Vocation Choir and Young Singers

There are also a number of peripatetic teachers for a variety of instruments and theory lessons.

Any financial and administrative queries are handled by the office at Hillingdon Music Service, Hillingdon Music Education Hub, Residents Services, Manor Farm House, Eastcote Road, Ruislip, Middx HA4 8BD Tel 01895 558108 (email

What is a typical morning at Music School?

Your child will be given a timetable prior to starting. This will usually involve a music theory class, an aural class, choir and participation in an orchestra/ensemble.

Lessons in
music theory are offered up to grade 5. Usually students study up to this grade then take their ABRSM Theory exam which is organised via the Music Service. This is an external exam which usually takes place at Uxbridge College, Hayes Site. There is an entrance fee for the exam. Theory classes last half an hour and your child will work through a music theory exercise book which can be purchased from reception at Music School.

Aural classes are run up to grade 8 and these support the instrumental exams which all contain an aural element. These classes run for half an hour.

Choir is an integral element of Music School and singing also forms part of some of the instrumental exams. There are two choirs - Young Singers (split into choirs 1 and 2) and Vocation Choir. Sessions run for an hour.

Your child will also be allocated a place in an
Orchestra/ensemble suitable to their ability. Typically the sessions run for an hour each.

Refreshments are available from the tuck shop.

All students (and parents who are waiting for them), are required to sign in on arrival and out on departure. Students under the age of sixteen are not permitted to leave until the end of their scheduled activities.

What should my child take to Music School on their first day?

Students should arrive with their instrument, music stand, pencil and eraser (for theory work). You may like to provide some change for them to buy refreshments from the tuck shop or give them a snack.

They will need a grade 1 ABRSM theory book for starting theory lessons which can be purchased at the reception.

My child is unwell or unable to attend. Should I let someone know?

For planned absences:
phone the Manor Farm office during the week
01895 558108 or
After 5pm on a Friday or on a Saturday morning:
07802 721572 and leave a message with the name of the child if there is no answer.

How can my child progress through Music School?

There are auditions in March each year for places in the orchestras and ensembles. Your child will be allocated an audition time. They will :
play a piece of choice to reflect their highest standard of playing to the co-ordinator and a teacher from that orchestra section.
play a short piece unprepared to demonstrate sight reading ability.

The results are put up in reception at Saturday Music School before the end of the Summer term, usually early June.

Students are promoted to a higher ensemble or a higher position within their ensemble based on musical ability, the current standard of their playing and sight reading ability, not on the basis of their age. There may be more woodwind and brass players than spaces available so orchestral places are shared out as much as possible to be fair to everyone.

Generally, students leave Music School when they reach eighteen.

The progression through the orchestras is as follows :

String players Junior Strings => Repertoire Orchestra and Strings => Philharmonic Orchestra and Strings => Symphony Orchestra and String Sinfonia

Woodwind and Brass Junior Band => Training Band => Wind Band and Concert Band

Choir - Young Singers => Vocation Choir

Other ensembles currently include
Recorder Group
Percussion Group
Sax Group
Clarinet Choir
Hillingdon Youth Jazz Band
String Quartets
Wind Octet
Double Reed and Flute Ensemble

What is special place tuition?

Special places are offered to students for whom it is considered one-to-one tuition would be beneficial. The fees for this are higher than for group tuition.

How many concerts are there each year?

There are three main concerts held at various venues at the end of each term. Other concerts are also held for smaller groups at other times. The students are expected to perform in their respective orchestras and ensembles.

The list of concerts is posted on the Music Hub website; There is a link to this from the Friends website.

Concerts are open to the public and tickets can be purchased via the website.

How should my child dress for a concert?

Girls: white blouse with sleeves, smart black trousers or formal knee length skirt (no miniskirts), black shoes (no trainers), black / flesh coloured tights.

Boys: long sleeved white shirt, black bow tie, black formal/smart trousers (no jeans), black shoes (no trainers) and black socks.

Concert dress for Symphony Orchestra, String Sinfonia and Brass Band: all black, no coloured accessories.

Will my child be able to go on overseas tours?

Each year there is an overseas tour at the end of the summer term for the older students. String Sinfonia and Vocation Choir go one year and the Concert Band (brass and wind sections) the next. Past destinations have included Barcelona and Lake Garda.

Parents of eligible children will be sent a letter in good time and there will be a schedule of payments so the cost can be spread. The tour is not subsidised by the Music Service and the Friends contribute to keep costs down.

Why do some students take Trinity Guildhall instrumental exams and others ABRSM?

This is down to the preference of the tutor and both are of equal value.

The main difference is that with Trinity Guildhall, students can study up to grade 8 without having to take the grade 5 ABRSM theory exam. With ABRSM, students cannot progress to grade 6 until they have passed it.

Some students take certain grades with ABRSM and others with Trinity Guildhall.

What do the Friends Do?

The Friends of Hillingdon Music Service was formed in 1985 as a registered charity and is effectively the Parents Teacher Association of the Music Service. Our aim is to raise additional funds for the service and to offer support for its activities and concerts. You may have seen us acting as ushers or organising the parking.

Our fundraising goes towards subsidising the annual concert tour, contributing towards instruments and equipment as well as helping parents with temporary financial difficulties pay their fees.

We raise our funds by providing raffles and refreshments at concerts and each summer we host a special fundraiser, Jazz Cabaret Night. This year it will be held on Saturday 27th June 2020 at Vyner's School. Look out for further details.

Who's who in the Friends?

Caroline Hamilton and Barbara Lynch Co-chairs
Ivan Soares Treasurer
Wendy Humphreys Secretary

Other people on the committee support these roles. All of us have children at music school or who have been through music school.

What do I do if I have difficulty paying the fees?

Speak to your child's tutor in the first instance and ask them to get in contact with the Friends who may be able to help.

The Friends of HMS can only make funding available to support students to continue to have music lessons and attend Saturday or Thursday Music School at John Locke Academy.

The financial support will be limited to between one third and one half of the annual fees.

A new application must be made each year.

Each successful applicant must sign an undertaking to commit to at least 90% attendance and good conduct.

Student support scheme payments can only be made if sufficient funding is available and is therefore not guaranteed.

What can I do to help the Friends?

Please send us your email address to so that we can keep you informed about events and activities. The information you provide will only be used to communicate with you directly on Friends matters and will not be shared for any other purpose.

Donations for the raffles we hold at concerts are always welcome. Wine and chocolates or biscuits are popular prizes. You may drop them off at any time at Saturday Music School reception.

Feel free to have a chat when you see us at an event or drop by our desk in reception on a Saturday morning at John Locke.

If you would like to work on the committee at any time, you would be most welcome to join. You might first like to come along to a committee meeting and see how we work.