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What are the term dates for 2019/2020?


See the HGS website


  • Term Starts - 4 September
  • Half term - 28 October to 1 November
  • End of Term - 20 December

  • Christmas holiday 23 Dec – 3 Jan

  • Term Starts - 6 January
  • Half term - 17 February – 21 February
  • End of Term - 3 April


  • Term Starts - 20 April
  • May Day bank holiday - 4 May
  • Half term - 25 May – 29 May
  • End of Term - 17 July

  • No lessons will be given on the following dates:

  • This section will be updated as appropriate.

Is there any advice about practicing?

Perhaps the biggest challenge for families with private lesson students is establishing a productive practice routine.
We ask our students to practice twenty minutes per day, five days a week.

Our teachers often give their pupils specific written direction for their weekly practice sessions. Make sure that the pupil reads them!!

It is much more productive to practice little and often rather than do a whole week’s practice at one time. Practice sessions of approximately 20 minutes each are ideal as this ensures the maximum concentration each time. A pupil needing or wanting to practice for longer than this could do several 20 minute sessions with suitable breaks.
The reasons for practicing often and building this consistency are:

  • To build and maintain muscle tone and/or muscular memory needed to play a musical instrument at a reliable standard.
  • To make progress through regular revision of important concepts.
  • To provide motivation through constant improvement
  • To be able to progress through a well rounded curriculum
  • To avoid building incorrect technique through irregular practice.
  • To remember what the teacher has said.

The opportunities, benefits, and artistic satisfaction that result from mastering an instrument are well documented, but how to get there is less clear.

‘How to Get Your Child to Practice Without Resorting to Violence!!’ by Cynthia Richards is a thorough, practical, and enlightening book on the subject. Mrs. Richards draws on her experience as mother of eight children and twenty years as a violin teacher, as well as a survey of successful musicians.
The following are excerpts from her book.
It should be noted that practicing instruments properly can be especially demanding: combining physical exertion, complexity and logic, mastering new concepts, and intricacy.
Who wouldn't need extra support and encouragement in such an endeavor!

"Practicing is not a childlike activity. Although human musical interest may be innate, the discipline, vision and willingness to endure are not. Children love to play their instruments, not to practice them. The process of practicing over and over to perfect a certain technique is biologically and psychologically opposed to a child's nature...practicing requires a daily time commitment which most children find cumbersome. If something else comes up that they would rather do, children without commitment will not stay to practice...The drilling over and over for the perfection of a certain technique does not appeal to them because they do not have the maturity to appreciate the long range implications of their work."

"The contact once a week with the teacher is usually not sufficient to sustain a young child's interest in practicing through the week or to insure that practicing is not done incorrectly." (This is one reason why music lessons are often given 5 days a week in some parts of the USA!)

"It is unfair to expect children to shoulder the entire burden themselves without the continual help and encouragement from an adult in the family...Children who do like to practice are neither abnormal nor especially gifted. They have probably been helped to achieve a routine that is acceptable to them and from which they have been able to develop a level of competence which is rewarding to them...For most children there are times when they like to practice and times when they don't."

How can you get your child to practice successfully?

Set up the family rules for practicing and use natural consequences if the rules are not complied with.
Use incentives when needed.
Don't allow yourself to get emotionally involved or upset when conflicts arise. Be friendly. Be matter-of-fact. But don't give in.
Enjoy the music they make and praise them for all their successes.
Look for stumbling blocks in the way of successful practice and do your best to remove them.

"The basic goal of all practicing, whether it be music or some other activity, is improvement of skill.

Practice should be goal oriented.
Practice should be organized.
Aim for accuracy before speed.
Work from smaller to larger portions of music.

"For children, leaving any rewards of practice to be realized only when they finally begin making music sound beautiful may be one of the things that causes such a high drop-out rate among children studying music. Each step of progress should be congratulated and enthusiasm for work on the next step encouraged."

"An attitude of learning and of try-until-you-succeed is a frame of mind that children absorb most readily when they see the example of their parents. If they see that Mum or Dad is skilled at something and that s/he didn't get that way without working at it, they are more likely to be willing to make their own commitment."

"While an adult might be able to wait for results, a child must realize some kind of return for efforts now. That is why it is important for parents and teachers to set specific goals in music study which can be realized by the child, preferably within the practice period itself, or no later than the next lesson."

"Instead of saying, "Make sure you practice a solid hour today," a more productive approach might be, "Decide when you want to practice today and write down your schedule." Children function better if their lives are organized, and they are more willing to follow the plan if they make the plan themselves or, at least, have some input."

"Once the time for practice is decided, it should be upheld, and practicing should become as much a part of the daily routine as eating meals. When it becomes a habit, an expected part of the day, a part of life, there is no room for argument. The mere presence of a structured routine is conducive to motivation. If practicing is left to be done whenever the child feels like it, it is too easy to be distracted from it, and then the parent starts to nag. Parents, too, must be careful to give practicing top priority during the designated practice time, not allowing other chores or responsibilities to interfere...If the child senses the importance of practicing and receives encouragement in upholding the time commitment, he or she will usually not question what is expected for that period, even though at times the motivation may be weak...Teachers understand that life is not always stable and that occasional bad practice weeks must be tolerated or even expected. But the child learns to judge the importance of practicing by how lightly it can be set aside."

"I would not give my own children a choice as to whether or not they were going to brush their teeth. In terms of basic education, why should the study of music be any different than that of math or language or science? Children are not the best judges of what is good for them. However, you can lead children into wanting music by giving them many musical experiences in early childhood."

A good place to practice is important with a music stand and chair (without arms) for good posture.  

Don’t let them practice with the music on the side of the bed or on the sofa!

The instrument must be in good working order for effective practice. Have it overhauled during the summer holidays!

A practice sessions should often follow this outline:

Warm-up for basic skill building
Work on lesson goals - learn notes and rhythms, go slowly, use a practice plan
Fun playing: favorite tunes, etc.  

Can students study for music exams?
Yes, but students are not pushed into this by their teachers. However, recommendations are made when students are deemed ready to sit exams.