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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.

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) and songwriting and arranging. Vocal studies are available via the vocal department.

What We Offer

  • 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
  • Rock and 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 rock and popular music industry from rock 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.

Ensembles and Performance Opportunities

Popular Music Bands: across all ages
Junior 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 – Ed Leaker

Electric Guitar and Electric Bass
James Gale

Songwriting and Arranging
James Gale


Drum Kit
Andy Tween

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