Music at St Ives

Music has a central place in the culture of the whole school.

Music is interwoven into the core of every Grammar boy’s education and has a principal place in the culture of the whole School. Our thriving music department creates opportunities for all pupils. It offers each boy the opportunity to take an active part in the Kodaly focused classroom music programme, individual instrumental lessons and participate in the extensive ensemble programme. There is much for our boys to become involved in and share with their friends.

Classroom Music Programme

It is inclusive, progressive and fun.

All boys P-6, receive class music lessons from specialist music teachers. Each year group also attends a choir period once a week. The class programme is Kodaly focused and promotes an interactive, aural-singing approach that is sequential, cumulative and developmental in its design. It is pupil-centred and engages all boys in an inclusive, progressive, fun learning journey. Activities focus on developing the boy’s skills in composition, performance and listening.


Instrumental Music Lessons: Years 3-6

Many boys enjoy learning a musical instrument at Sydney Grammar School.

Violin Flute Trumpet Orchestral only: xylophone/snare
Viola Oboe French horn
Violoncello Clarinet Trombone
Double Bass Bassoon Baritone/Euphonium Tuba

We have outstanding peripatetic tutors, many of whom are professional musicians outside of school hours. They bring a wealth of experience, knowledge, and expertise to their teaching which only but enhances the joy of learning an instrument for our boys.

Tuition is given on an individual basis during the School day and lessons are 30 minutes in duration. Boys are rostered so they have their lesson on the same day each week but at varying times throughout the day. Boys who learn two instruments through the School have one of their lessons either before school, after school or at lunchtime.

Piano Lessons: availability of an acoustic piano in the home is preferred. However, a digital piano that meets the following specifications is acceptable for beginner level up to Grade 4:

  • Keyboard size – 88 notes
  • Action – weighted and touch sensitive keys
  • Pedals – fixed and functioning as for acoustic pianos

Instrumental Music for Preschool – Year 2

How to accommodate younger players

The violin, viola, cello and double bass are sized to accommodate younger players. Lessons on these instruments, along with the piano, training flutes and fagottino bassoons, are available for boys in the K-2 Department.

Music lessons for Preschool boys may commence in Semester 2 after consultation with the Director of Music. The lesson duration for Preschool boys is 20 minutes. Parents are welcome to attend their son’s lessons on an agreed day and time with their son’s tutor.


Fees 2024

All K-6 pupils will receive 30 lessons over the course of a year. Fees are billed to parent accounts twice a year.

Preschool pupils will receive 14 lessons during Semester 2. Fees will be billed to parent accounts once for the year.

P (20-minute lessons) $761.17 Semester II (14 lessons)
K-6 (30-minute lessons) $1304.87 Semester I (16 lessons) $1141.76 Semester II (14 lessons)

Applying for Music Lessons

Parents can enrol their son for individual instrumental tuition by going to the Parent Portal and completing the Music Lesson Application Form.

Missed Lessons

If your son fails to attend his allocated music lesson time it will be counted as having been given.

In the event of illness or injury, notice to the Main Office and the Music Office is required by 5pm the day before your son’s lesson for the lesson to not be counted as having been given. If the Headmaster grants leave and your son has a music lesson, separate notification to the music department is required.

Extra Lessons

If, after your son has received 30 lessons there are still teaching weeks remaining in Term 4, you may arrange with your son's music tutor for extra lessons. Payment for these lessons will be added to your next school account.

Discontinuing Music Lessons

When applying for music lessons for the first time, we encourage parents to commit their sons to 1 year of learning. In this time, a pupil has the chance to develop perseverance, grow in confidence with their playing, master new skills successfully and, hopefully, enjoy participating in their first school performance. Continuity and routine with practice at home are essential to building successful musicians.

To withdraw your son from music lessons at School after his first year of learning an instrument, written notice must be received by Sunday, Week 5 of a term, to take effect from the end of that term.

Instrument Hire

The School has a limited number of instruments available to hire for a period of one year.

Boys learning a string instrument in P-2 will be required to hire their instruments outside of School. A limited number of training flutes and fagottino bassoons are available for hire at School.

Boys in Years 3-6 can hire instruments through the music department for a period of one year. Following this time, parents are requested to purchase an instrument for their son. When allocating instruments for hire, preference is given to boys starting an instrument. Hire fees are $66.25 per term and are billed to your School account twice a year. Instruments should be clearly labelled with your son's name and current class on the outside of the case. We also recommend parents include a contact address and phone number inside.

Repairs and Damage

If a School instrument is damaged in any way, DO NOT try to repair it yourself as instrument repair is a specialised field.

As outlined in the hire agreement for School instruments, should your instrument be damaged, take it to the music department to be assessed, and a repairer contacted. Maintenance costs will be met by the music department, but parents are responsible for the cost of any damage to School instruments. As the School's insurance policy does not cover loss or damage to privately owned instruments, we recommend coverage be made through your own insurance policy.

AMEB Examinations

Boys are encouraged to sit for AMEB examinations, however....

Although many boys at St Ives take part in AMEB examinations, they are not for everyone. Exams give focus to a pupil’s learning and the opportunity to work towards a goal, however, playing for pleasure without this pressure has merit. During Term 4, we also run Mock Exams as an alternative, giving boys the opportunity to perform their repertoire and technical work in an encouraging space with a friendly examiner. No grades are given. Your son’s Peripatetic Tutor will guide you carefully on which way to proceed.


All ensembles are graded so that boys work together at their appropriate level of performance.

Participating in the ensemble programme at St Ives is integral to the cultural and social fabric of our School. The very nature of learning an instrument goes hand-in-hand with sharing this enjoyment with friends on a weekly basis at ensemble rehearsals. It is expected that boys who learn an instrument through the School will participate in the ensemble programme. Places in advanced ensembles are determined by the Director of Music. Boys who learn an instrument either at school or outside are welcome to join. Places are granted with the understanding that a year's commitment is expected.


Ensembles Rehearsal Timetable

Remember that when you are in an ensemble you are part of a team.

Morning rehearsals begin at 7:30am and all boys are expected to arrive 10 minutes beforehand to unpack and tune. If, for any reason a boy cannot attend his ensemble rehearsal, an explanatory note to the conductor is appreciated.

Monday 7:30 – 8:00am Beat Buster Percussion, Year 3 Cello Ensemble
Lunch Flute Ensemble, Carrington Cellos, Percussion Powerhouse, Blues Group
3:00pm - 3:30pm Thundersticks Percussion
Tuesday 7:30 – 8:15am Senior Strings, Maffey Strings
Lunch Snives Jazz Ensemble
3:00 – 3:45pm Murray and Pennington Strings
Wednesday 7:30 – 8:15am RJ Stevens Wind Ensemble, Bergonzi Strings
7:30 – 8:00am Barrios Guitar Ensemble
7:55 - 8:25am Year 2 Choir
Lunch Alhambra Guitar Ensemble
Thursday 7:30 – 8:15am Amati Strings, Sartory Strings, RJ Lee Singers
Lunch Ogden Guitar Group, Saxophone Ensemble, Blues Guitar
Lunch and Choir Periods Taiko Drumming Years 5 and 6
3:00 – 3:45pm Kenyon Concert Band, Noiseworks
3:00 – 4:30pm School Orchestra
Friday 7:30 – 8:00am Behind Bars Mallet Percussion
7:30 - 8:15am School Choir
3:00pm Arcangelo Strings

Performance Opportunities

Performing is an integral part of the music programme at St Ives.

A full and varied programme of performance opportunities exist for all individual instrumentalists and ensembles. From weekly Lunchtime Concerts and School Assemblies to Twilight Concerts and end-of-term concert evenings, performing is an integral part of the music programme at St Ives. Beyond our own campus, combined concerts with Edgecliff Preparatory School and College Street are always a highlight in the calendar year along with the biennial Combined Orchestra Tour shared with Edgecliff. In the past these have taken us to New Zealand, Perth and Singapore.


Instrumental, Vocal and Composition Scholarships providing remission of music tuition fees are offered by audition to Year 5 boys entering Year 6. Application forms are available from the Music Office towards the end of Term 3.