SMS Experience (9 - 12 Years)

SMS Experience is for young musicians who have been playing or singing for around two years and who are keen to develop their performance skills.

Students benefit from working with professional musicians, experiencing a broad range of musical styles, and meeting other like-minded young people.

Students are enrolled as a junior member of Leeds College of Music.

  • Starts:
  • Duration: 30 Saturdays
  • Venue: Leeds College of Music
  • Fee: £580 (3 Hour Programme) / £773 (4 hour programme)
  • Age: 9-12 years
  • Study Mode: Part time

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About the course

Each week, students will play in a small ensemble or band, take a musicianship class, and participate in a workshop to experience different styles of music and to find out how to be successful as a musician. 

They will meet other likeminded young musicians and have the chance to perform in a professional venue.

Each student has the option of a 3 or 4 hour programme: 

  • 3 hour programme: one ensemble, one workshop, one musicianship class
  • 4 hour programme: one ensemble, one workshop, two musicianship classes

A typical timetable would look something like this:


09:00 – 10:00: Ensemble


10:15 – 11:15: Musicianship (Keyboard Skills, Theory, or Composition)


11:30 – 12:30: Workshop

12:30 - 13:30: Musicianship (Keyboard Skills, Theory, Vocal Skills or Composition)

Students are placed in an ensemble according to their interests, ability and age.  

We have a large variety of ensembles at Saturday Music School, with genres including jazz, pop, classical, folk, rock and metal.  Each ensemble is led by one of our talented professional tutors, who have a wealth of teaching experience as well as active performing careers.  Students develop their listening, arranging, composition and improvisation skills, and learn how to rehearse and perform as a group.

Each student will have a choice of musicianship class; either keyboard skills, theory or composition.   On the 4 hour programme, they can choose two musicianship options.

Keyboard Skills

In keyboard skills we explore music of all eras and genres through the keyboard. Every term the students learn and perform pieces of music, either by sight or by ear.

For example, in the past few months students have learned to play themes from The Entertainer by Joplin, Somewhere Only We Know by Keane, Offenbach’s Barcarolle and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 (1st mov), as well as learning how to improvise using the blues scale.  

Students sometimes work solo but often in pairs or groups which improves timing and crucial listening skills as well as promoting problem solving and team work. Each lesson involves showing their work to the group which develops a confident, mature approach to performing.

We also study chords, scales and modes as well as ear skills and sight reading.

Emphasis is placed not just on technical ability but on developing a sensitive, creative and insightful approach to the context and interpretation of the music. 

Watch an example class.



Music theory is the language of musicians and the foundation of all music. It helps students understand how all music styles work and why they sound a certain way.

At Saturday Music School we work alongside the ABRSM and London College of Music theory curriculums meaning that students will gain an understanding of intervals, scales, and keys, helping students understand why particular notes are used together, or why some keys use sharps and flats.

If students have an understanding of how written music works they will find playing in ensembles or bands much easier and are likely to progress further in their musical education. This foundational understanding will make it easier for students to learn new instruments or even compose music themselves.

Our aim at SMS is to make theory lessons enjoyable and fun for all involved and for students to gain the knowledge needed to become well rounded musicians.

Composition & Arranging

Learning to compose is both an important part of a young performer's 'musical diet', and a rewarding endeavour in itself.

The SMS Composition and Arranging classes provide a relaxed, fun environment where students can cultivate an understanding of melody, harmony, rhythm, pitch, structure and experiment with unusual time signatures, unconventional scales, and unique sounds, across a number of different genres.

From year-to-year, the composition syllabus changes (enabling students who attend SMS Composition and Arrangement in multiple years to continue their development), but each academic year is split in to three sections, focusing on a different 'environment'. In the first of these sections, students learn to use Sibelius, which is the industry-standard notation tool. Simultaneously, they develop their composition skills and their ability to create tidy, professional-looking scores. The second section focuses on Logic, which is an extremely powerful digital audio workstation which allows students to create and manipulate synths, drum loops, and audio effects. The third section is designed to improve students' ability to compose using pencil and paper. 

Watch our composition film.

Our workshops are run by talented freelance musicians and industry professionals who are experts in their field. 

Examples of past workshops include improvisation, reggae, songwriting, film music, and conducting.   The workshops give our students the opportunity to experience a wide range of genres, and help them to become well rounded and adaptable musicians.

Why choose Saturday Music School?

  • Become a member of Junior LCoM, and raise your aspirations
  • Playing in an ensemble promotes team work and helps young musicians to develop rehearsal skills and approaches to problem solving
  • Work with professional musicians who are experienced tutors to fast track your musical skills
  • Experience a broad range of musical styles to become a well-rounded musician
  • Music industry and performance workshops designed to broaden horizons
  • Learn how to promote yourself and your music with marketing workshops
  • Meet other like-minded young musicians and make new friends
  • Opportunities to network with a wide range of young musicians
  • Musicianship classes will develop essential musical skills, such as understanding of musical language, composition and arranging
  • Develop your creativity and musical ideas in a supportive and nurturing learning environment
  • Performance opportunities build experience and confidence
  • Improve your chances of success with support with applications, auditions and preparation for further musical study, i.e. BTEC or degree
  • Have fun making music
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Open Days

Our friendly Open Days are designed to give students the opportunity to see what it's really like to study at Saturday Music School.   

Why not come along to our next SMS Experience Open Day  on Saturday 23 June2018 between 12:10 and 14:30to find out more. Click 'Register now for Open Day' at the top of the page to register your place!


Entry requirements, fees & applying

Entry requirements

It is a requirement that students have regular one-to-one or group lessons on their instrument/voice outside of SMS.

We suggest that students have been playing for around two years before they apply.

SMS Experience is designed to support instrumental/vocal lessons which we do not provide as part of the course.

Students will usually have a main interest in classical, pop, rock or jazz, but the most important thing is that applicants show potential and are excited about music-making.


The fees for the 2018/19 academic year of Saturday Music School are as follows:

  • 3 hour programme: £580
  • 4 hour programme: £773

 The fee can either be paid full or in instalments by standing order.

Instalment payments

For a 3 hour timetable, the fees can be paid by ten instalments of £58 from August 2018 - May 2019.

For a 4 hour timetable, the fees can be paid by ten instalments of £77.30 from August 2018 - May 2019.


We want to ensure that no one turns down a place at SMS due to cost.

Fees can be paid in instalments and we also have a bursary fund that supports students and their families dependent on their situation. In 2016/17 bursaries of between 7% and 69% were awarded.  

Find out more about applying for a bursary.

How to apply

If you would like to apply for the SMS Experience course to start in September 2018, please complete our online audition form.

The majority of auditions for 2018/19 entry have now been held.  We may be able to accept a late application for some instruments.  Please apply using the audition form above. Please note that we do not have any places for drummers or guitarists for September entry.

If you apply to Saturday Music School you are guaranteed an audition as long as there is a space for your instrument. 

You will be invited to come in and play with a small group with other musicians of a similar standard in a band/ensemble rehearsal setting.

No preparation is needed. We will be looking for good ensemble and musicianship skills, as well as how you communicate your musical ideas to the other musicians.

We will also talk to you to find out your musical interests and which is the right musicianship class for you. Have a think about your favourite musicians and your influences, as well as any aspirations you have for your music.

If you are coming to an Open Day, you have the option to audition on the same day. Other auditions will be held in June.


Hear our students

Terms & conditions

If a student withdraws from SMS during the four weeks of term, only the enrolment fee will be charged. After their first half-term, one term’s notice in writing must be given of intention to leave and any balance of fees paid.  If an overpayment has been made a refund will be calculated.

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