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In recognition of the changing music scene and the ever widening music career opportunities, in September 2016 Wells became the first and only specialist music school to offer popular music as a department in its own right, building on its existing classical music reputation. At Wells, our Songwriting and Popular Music opportunities are available to any pupil of any age, from the Prep School to the Sixth Form.

The aim of this vibrant department is to support Wells pupils to develop their musical talents and skills to the full as well as to forge close associations with the current music industry to enable the students to be successful young musicians in the 21st century.

Individual and group lessons are available on Electric and Acoustic Guitar, Electric Bass, Drum Kit (via the percussion department). Vocal studies are available via the vocal department. Budding songwriters who are very serious about their craft can be mentored and take one-to-one lessons.

What We Offer

Key Popular Music Opportunities

  • Individual tuition on the principal study and supporting instrumental studies from a dedicated and experienced team of high-profile teachers and musicians
  • Daily timetabled practice periods within the school day, before and after school practice sessions with support from our team of graduate music assistants
  • Popular band opportunities of all varying combinations as well as extensive opportunities to work with young musicians in the school from other genres such as classical and jazz
  • The opportunity to work with guest artists from across the popular music industry from bands, recording artists, songwriters, musicians from London’s West End and film composers
  • Access to state-of-the-art recording facilities both in Cedars Hall and Quilter Hill
  • Access to Music Technology A level and opportunities in Years 7-9 to learn about music technology
  • Practical help and advice on preparation for auditions, competitions, music college entrance, CUKAS, university entrance (UCAS), Oxbridge and career advice for post Wells study. Strong personal links with music colleges and universities both in the UK and abroad
  • A flexible programme of study tailored to individual needs within a balanced environment
  • The opportunity for regular individual improvisation lessons from a leading expert in improvisation in addition to their weekly instrumental studies
  • Workshops and performance classes offering practical advice on all aspects of performance following a wide curriculum including repertoire, technique, practice strategies, style and interpretation, stage presentation and artist management
  • A healthy, happy, stimulating and enjoyable working environment that is about people and music.

Key Songwriting Opportunities

  • A weekly performance class, where pupils can share their latest songs within a supportive and friendly community, and can gain support and feedback from teachers and their peers, and arrange to have their songs performed
  • Recording projects, either using students or our in-house professional technicians
  • The chance to put together bands, and to recruit other singers and musicians to perform their songs
  • Music Technology support for composition and recording
  • Numerous formal and informal performance opportunities, including Open Mic nights, slots at The Venue in Wells, The Art Bank in Shepton Mallet and the Red Brick Building in Glastonbury, lunchtime and evening concerts within the School, and our annual flagship events including The Event On The Lawn and a joint project with the local Blue School
  • Opportunities to gain valuable performing and technical skills culminating in a portfolio of recordings of their own material
  • A choice of pathways depending on the songwriters’ ambitions:
    • Those who enjoy songwriting alongside other pursuits can elect to take advantage of these opportunities while maintaining a full academic and sporting programme. 
    • Songwriters who are particularly serious about their craft may wish to apply for a place as a specialist composer with a songwriting pathway. This would be by competitive audition and the expectation would be that a ‘Specialist Songwriter’ would study with our songwriting teacher as a component of a traditional study of composition. We also usually expect a pupil on this pathway to be proficient on one or more instruments.

Ensembles and Performance Opportunities

Popular Music Bands: across all ages
Prep School Rock School
Battle of the Bands
School Musical Production: in a professional theatre
Supporting Drama Events: with incidental music
Concerts and Performances: across school events
Singer Songwriter Evenings
Songwriting Showcases
Themed Concert Platforms
Recording Sessions: for demo recordings

Students’ Music Examples

You’ve Got it Bad, words and music by Marianne, recorded by our Senior School rock and popular music students – click here for the audio track.

The videos below feature singer/songwriter Marianne performing her own lyrics and music.

Meet our Staff

Staff Structure

Co-ordinator of Popular Music – Edward Leaker

Electric Guitar and Electric Bass
Jerry Crozier-Cole

Jamie Hughes


Drum Kit
Andy Tween
Jon Whitfield

About some of our specialist staff

Latest News

Some of our Alumni

Although Popular Music is a new department, Wells has a proud history over the last 25 years with many Wells pupils going on to forge careers in the music industry as rock and popular music musicians. Many Wells brass and percussion alumni in particular are now the mainstay musicians in London’s West End Theatres performing regularly in shows such as Phantom of the Opera, Chicago and many more.

Our brass and percussion pupils have also gone on to become successful songwriters and film composers working out of Los Angeles USA. Richard Jacques (trombone specialist) and Stephen Barton have become very successful video game composers.

Pupils from Wells have gone on to study music technology, including the prestigious Tonmeister course, at university.

Join our Popular Music Department