Specialist music school, Douglas Academy, is inviting aspiring young musicians to apply for places and make the most of their talents.

ASPIRING musicians from all over Scotland will soon have the chance to further their talent at one of the top schools in the country.

A number of places are going to be available at the Music School of Douglas Academy which has given many musicians a solid base on which to build a glittering career.

The current large cohort of sixth year students will be moving on at the end of this academic year and talented musicians from across the country are invited to apply for a place at the school – just one of four specialist music schools in Scotland.

Douglas Academy is one of the top five state schools in Scotland academically and the music students are in the top 5-10% of the high achieving students at the school.

“I think that comes from a work ethic students must develop in Music School as they have to be organised and manage their time well,” said Course Director Mark Evans. “They have a very busy week with lots of extra musical commitments over and above their academic work and we set high expectations.

“Whether music necessarily makes people more intelligent or not, from the point of view of stimulation it has been proven that it can benefit academic performance across the board.”

Pupils accepted for the music school have the option of staying at the pristine residence based at Knightswood Secondary, where the Dance School of Scotland also has residential spaces.

“At the moment we have pupils from the Scottish Borders, Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway and Aberdeenshire to name just a few of the places, and they stay at the school Monday to Friday and go home at the weekend. Under current restrictions they are allowed to travel for educational purposes”, said Mr Evans.

For those who would like to know more, there will be a virtual opening evening on November 18 when parents and prospective pupils can find out what is on offer.

Applications are due in by the end of January next year but it is not yet known whether the auditions, scheduled as usual for the end of February, will be online or in person.

Applications are open to any pupil of secondary school age but those entering S1 are particularly welcome as it means the school is able to offer six years of teaching, giving them an excellent grounding before they leave.

It is hoped that by the start of the next academic year, the many restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic will have been lifted but if not the school has plenty of measures in place to make sure teaching can continue.

At the beginning of the initial lockdown, staff moved quickly to teach online to give pupils continuity.

Some lessons are still online but others are in person, distanced, with Perspex screens between the pupil and teacher. The pupils also wear special tops they remove before moving to other parts of the school and they practise in practice rooms on their own.

Small string ensembles are allowed inside and the school is investigating erecting a marquee for other rehearsals outside. Engineers are also investigating connecting practice rooms with other spaces in the school to allow live performances of wind instruments to take place with people in different locations.

“It has been a huge learning curve for everybody but the staff have been super and adapted very quickly,” said Mr Evans.

Despite the quality of the teaching, the students don’t have to pay for anything – not even residential accommodation fees. There is full funding from the Scottish Government with support from East Dunbartonshire Council.

Music specialists are presented for the SQA Higher Music and Advanced Higher Music examinations as well as A level, and many regularly achieve distinction in Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music exams.  Opportunities also exist for pupils to obtain professional performing diplomas while still at school.

The Music School has some of the most established tutors in Scotland in their specialism, largely drawn from the staff of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Scottish Opera, and the wider pool of professional musicians based in Glasgow.

The school was set up in 1979 by Strathclyde Regional Council in response to the Cameron Report on Gifted Young Musicians and Dancers which recommended that specialised courses should be provided for musically gifted pupils in an existing comprehensive school.  In the specialist course, while particular attention is paid to the development of a pupil’s principal instrumental study, it is also the aim to provide an all round musical training and to develop the pupil as a whole artist.

l To book a place for the online open evening go to: msda.eventbrite.co.uk

The Course Director, Mark Evans can be contacted on 0141 955 2365