Our Foundation programme is where most of our younger students start before progressing onto our other programmes.

South West Music School welcomes students from 8 years old. We welcome applications from every genre – whether you are baroque recorder player, a heavy metal drummer or a classical singer – we cater for all interests.


The Foundation programme offers:

    • A first taste of life at SWMS
    • Six unique workshops per year – two per term
    • In some cases, professional mentoring and tuition (see below for more details)

South West Music School looks for musical talent and potential. Some of our students have achieved grades in multiple instruments, others are completely self-taught – what they have in common is passion and a commitment to music.

The Foundation programme consists of six workshops per year – these are spread out over the academic year as termly projects, typically with two occurring each term. The workshops are based in a central location within the South West, are varied and led by music industry professionals and talented artists. These workshops aim to develop young musicians’ skills through the exploration of different musical themes. Themes covered in previous workshops include songwriting and composition, rhythm, World music, vocal work, jazz, music for film and many more. We pride ourselves on our workshops being friendly, welcoming, fun, safe and educational.

Enhanced Foundation
In some cases, we recognise a sense of initiative and maturity in our Foundation students that enables us to offer them a DfE grant funded place with South West Music School. This means that in addition to the six Foundation workshops, students also benefit from access to six professional mentor sessions, an Individual Training Plan, and a budget for tuition.


Foundation Workshops: Spring Term 2023

In our first session of the year, we all gathered again to explore the sounds all around us and how we can transform and recreate these sounds using our musical instruments and voices. Stuart Packer joined our team of tutors to deliver some fun and energetic warm up activities, before we all headed off like musical detectives to discover and record the wide range of sounds all around us. By the end of a busy day, we were all ready to share our wonderful and varied compositions with each other before heading home.

In our second workshop of the term, our students worked together in groups to build on the previous session’s musical ideas, developing the sounds and snippets of musical material into pieces of music. The session ended in an exciting concert to friends and families where they were treated to some lovely performances, complete with a fullblown ‘musical storm’. Well done to all of our creative and imaginative students.


Foundation Workshops: Autumn Term 2022

We have had a fantastic start to our Autumn term Foundation Programme! In our first session, students spent a busy day learning about the 12-bar blues, exploring the pentatonic scale, and creating their own improvised melodies – all in collaboration with the National Youth Jazz Collective project resources. Many thanks to our wonderful tutor, Mark Jones, for delivering such an energetic and fun workshop.

In our second workshop of the term, we were delighted to be joined by Issie Barratt, the Artistic Director of NYJC. Issie is a multi-award winning internationally active composer, arranger, musician, conductor, record producer and inspiring educator.
Unfortunately, our tutor for the day was suddenly called away with a family emergency, so it was particularly fortunate to have Issie on hand to step in at very short notice. The large group divided into two ensembles to explore and learn some new pieces of jazz. After learning the different harmony parts and rhythmic patterns, both groups had fun experimenting with improvising their own melodic ideas to fit with the chord sequences. Many thanks to Issie for stepping in and providing us all with such a creative and inspiring workshop.


Foundation Workshops: Summer Term 2022

During the summer term, students have been working with Mark Jones on an exciting film music project. After listening to some classic themes from well-known movies, and thinking about what makes a piece of music sound dramatic, exciting or full of suspense, the group worked in small teams to compose and perform their own original exciting music. During the second session, the groups polished their own compositions and performances, and then found time to learn an extra ensemble piece from a selection of movies such as James Bond and Star Wars. Everyone enjoyed a fantastic afternoon concert in the beautiful Old Music Room at Queens College, Taunton – all that was missing was the red carpet and the popcorn!



Foundation Workshops: Spring Term 2022

During the spring term, students were treated to a series of three sessions lead by the wonderful Swedish vocalist, Rose Rebecka. Together, they explored traditional folk songs from the British Isles and from further afield. With both zoom sessions and in-person sessions, the students had a lot of fun playing and singing different examples of story-telling songs as well as taking inspiration from the musical features and epic tales and adventures found within the folk songs to compose their own new musical stories.



Foundation Workshops: Autumn term 2021

The first session of the year with a new group is always challenging, but the students quickly settled into a range of fun musical games and activities. Their tutor, Matt Harrison, then led them into collaborative storytelling through music.

The second session was delivered online. The students were able to collaborate in break out rooms.