High School is one of the few state schools in the
Eastern Cape that still offers Music as a subject.
Learners have the opportunity to start their music
career in Grade 3 at Union Preparatory School and can
continue right up to their Matric year at Union High
School. The practical lessons take place during the
school day and from Grade 10, learners can take Music as
a subject instead of Accountancy or Geography. Although
the main focus is on piano as instrument, there have
been learners matriculating with violin, guitar or voice
as their instrument which is dependent on the
availability of teachers.
The Music Department is also fortunate to have well qualified teachers. Mrs Karmin van der Walt is the Subject Head and teaches piano up to a Grade 8 level. She takes on the main responsibility of the learners doing Music as a subject and teaches the Theory of Music section of the curriculum. Mrs Sanette Brink, is responsible for a large segment of the practical lessons, ranging from Grade 1 to Grade 6 piano learners. Mrs Scott has been responsible for teaching the History of Music and Music Comprehension to the subject learners and has taught piano and guitar practical lessons. Mrs Fiona Hobson, on a private basis, gives lessons in violin and cello.
Because of the nature of Music as a subject and the restrictions on entering this subject, the classes have remained small. However, over the years we have had excellent results with a number of A aggregates achieved. In 2012, three of the five music matriculants achieved an A aggregate for Music. Two of these learners have gone on to pursue music careers where they are reported to be excelling.
At any given time there is a minimum of 30 pupils receiving music lessons in the Music Department and at least two thirds of these learners participate in the annual Royal Schools Examination.
This examination is an external examination with its’ base in England. It usually takes place in September of every year when an examiner is sent to South Africa to assess the participants. Once the learners reach a Grade 5 level in their instrument they are also required to sit for an external Theory examination before they can proceed further. We have continued to achieve well in these examinations and find that they work well as a guideline for the teachers and as an incentive for the learners to proceed with the study of their instrument. We have continued to have good results for these examinations The learners who do not participate in this examination are evaluated internally.
The learners are also given opportunities to perform through the year, culminating in a formal music evening held shortly before the external examinations where parents and the community are able to attend and be entertained by the high standard of performance. For the subject learners, this is also a time where they receive their performance assessment which is part of their final marks for the year.
Union High School places great value on Music and music activities and will continue to do so having seen of what benefit it is to those learners who participate.