Bangor Grammar School




Mr Paul O’Reilly

Mrs Claire Buchanan

Instrumental Tutors

S Barnett, G.R.N.C.M. (trombone & piano)

Miss C Butler B.Mus, L.R.S.M., A.K.C

F Carbery (drum kit)

Kim Marston dipLCM ALCM LLCM (violin & viola)

M Donaghy (guitar)

Miss B Benson, L.T.C.L. (flute)

Mrs J Gibson (bassoon, piano & theory)

Mrs M Fenn, B.A. P.G.R.S.A.M.D. (oboe, clarinet & saxophone)

Mrs Louis Lynch (orchestral percussion)

I Livingstone (guitar)

D Parkins, G.R.N.C.M. (horn)

N Snell (trumpet)

Subject Overview

The Music Department is at the heart of the school’s daily life, with rehearsals beginning from first thing in the morning and throughout the school day for various choirs and a wide range of instrumental groups. The department provides music for formal events such as Remembrance Day, Prize Day and our annual Carol Service as well as for many informal musical events throughout the school’s academic year. We have 12 of the best instrumental tutors in Northern Ireland who teach lessons throughout the school week. We currently offer lessons on a range of instruments including all of the standard orchestral instruments as well as piano, guitars and drums.

The department is strong academically with many of our students choosing to study music at university and music college.


The Music department has 2 fully equipped music rooms. Each of these rooms has three adjoining group rooms for classroom work and are both fully equipped with a grand piano, keyboards, wind and percussion instruments for all pupils.

We also have:

Fully operational professional recording studio complete with Apple Macs, mixing desks, a range of sequencing software and a wide variety of microphones.

Suite of Apple Mac desktops complete with a range of sequencing and notational software.

Three practice rooms complete with upright pianos and both acoustic and electric drum kits.

Two instrument storage rooms that house a range of equipment. These include both professional and portable PA systems, percussion and the full range of orchestral instruments for pupil usage.


Many of our pupils will already be performing in the wider Bangor community while representing the school in both a formal and informal capacity. A significant number have, in the past, pursued successful careers in the music industry in a wide variety of roles. All of our instrumental students will have the opportunity to achieve both Trinity Rockschool and ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music) grades with several obtaining performance diplomas by the time they have passed through the school.

Every year we have pupils successfully auditioning for the Ulster Youth Choir, the Ulster Youth Orchestra and the Ulster Youth Jazz Orchestra. This enables them to perform at the highest level alongside other brilliant young musicians.

Recent leavers have obtained places studying music at the Royal Northern College of Music, Durham University and Trinity College, among other top universities.

Key Stage 3

At Key stage 3 pupils are given the opportunity to compose, perform and develop their listening skills. They will develop keyboard and guitar abilities while learning to create and control musical ideas. A variety of resources are available to strengthen learning such as group rehearsal rooms and sequencing software in our Mac Suite. Pupils will be offered the opportunity at this age to study an instrument privately with one of our peripatetic tutors.

CCEA Specification

Key Stage 4

GCSE Music allows pupils to develop their creative composition skills while collaborating with their peers on group performances. They will use a range of music technology to aid with their compositions and will engage in performances throughout the academic year. The vast majority of our pupils attain a top grade with many going on to build upon their knowledge at A-level.

CCEA Specification

Key Stage 5

A-level Music is a subject that rewards creativity while demanding the highest levels of academic rigour. It is considered a ‘desirable’ A-level by all of the UK’s top universities and requires a multitude of skills to gain a top grade. Many of our school’s top achievers are involved in the music department at various levels. Those that have decided to study music at AS/A2 have comfortably made the transition to Music at 3rd level education.

CCEA Specification

Career Opportunities

The department has links to the Queen’s University Music Department in Belfast, with senior pupils attending workshops, and some of our instrumental tutors teaching and frequently performing there. Throughout the year we have industry professionals working with our students. In the past, we have hosted workshops/masterclasses with the Royal Scots Concert Band, the Ulster Orchestra, jazz pianist Scott Flannigan and concert pianist Ruth McGinley, to name a few.

Every year we have music students that decide to pursue the subject at university/music college with a significant number going on to highly successful careers after their time at Bangor Grammar School. Many have established themselves both locally and internationally as performers, composers, educators and studio producers.

Pupils are encouraged to gain experience and engage with the UK music industry whilst still at school.

Among our most recent leavers we had 4 pupils that signed a favourable publishing deal to release their band’s music with SONY BMG, another pupil has produced a song that reached the top of the Irish download charts and there have been a range of pupils that have independently released singles with their respective bands.