The Performance Development Programme takes music making to the next level. The students on this programme are looking to enhance their genre and technical skills through a specifically tailored programme of opportunities and mentoring. Dependent on your age, talent, commitment and attitude towards music, we often accept new students straight onto PDP.


The Performance Development Programme (PDP) offers:

  • An introduction to composition and new technologies
  • Recording opportunities (solo and group)
  • Performances
  • Playing as part of a band or ensemble
  • Repertoire development
  • A bespoke mentoring and tuition package
  • Access to SWMS’ full menu of Short Courses

The Performance Development Programme (PDP) consists of four workshops delivered as termly projects during the autumn and spring terms, culminating in a weekend residential course during the summer term. These sessions cover the topics above in more detail and will be relevant to your genre or style of music. Added to this will be a series of opportunities to perform in public. PDP also offers a bespoke mentoring and tutoring package to each student.

SWMS residential courses and sessions provide a safe and friendly environment for students to spend time with like-minded musicians, focusing on a musical project and an end goal. The sessions are designed to push the students’ learning boundaries and challenge them to become more skilful, creative and confident musicians. The social element is also important and gives students the opportunity for ‘down time’ where they can relax and enjoy getting to know their peers.

Mentoring and tuition

Each PDP student is offered an assigned professional mentor. The role of the mentor is to support and nurture the student on their musical pathway. The mentor works with the student on a one-to-one basis to explore their musical development needs. The results of these discussions form the basis for each student’s Individual Training Plan, which outlines learning goals for the year ahead. Mentors are personally assigned to each student based on their skills, interests and geographical location.

PDP students may also be provided with a budget through DfE Music and Dance Grant Scheme that can pay for high-quality music tuition on a local basis. SWMS oversee funded tuition in collaboration with the tutors.


PDP Workshops: Spring Term 2023

Our Performance Development students stepped into Spring with a great work ethic. We are so proud of the students and the work they have started this term. Well done!

The Performance Development Programme showcased their hard work to parents at their second workshop this term. Queens College hosted in the Queens Hall – a perfect setting for these 2 great pieces of new music. Both pieces based on the Star Wars theme, but so very different. Thank you to our tutor Zaid Al-Rikabi and thank you to the students who worked so well as 2 ensembles.


PDP Workshops: Autumn Term 2022

We welcomed our tutors Zaid Al-Rikabi and Stu Packer to the Performance Development Programme on Sunday. The students are a great mixture of existing and new. This led to some new music collaborations. We were very proud of how the students stepped up and performed to a very appreciative audience.
All about confidence and trust!

Our second session of the term continued on the theme of building performance confidence. Once again, our students worked with Zaid Al-Rikabi and Stu Packer who gently encouraged them to step outside of their comfort zones to work on the big ‘three Cs’: Creativity, Collaboration and Confidence!
At the end of the session, we were all treated to a fantastic informal concert for friends and family. Well done to all!


PDP Workshops: Summer Term 2022

Our PDP Students enjoyed a sunny weekend away working together on a collaborative ensemble playing residential course. After several busy rehearsal sessions, the students recorded their final pieces of work within Millfield School’s purpose-built recording studios. Many thanks to our tutor, Matt Harrison, and Millfield School’s sound technician, Martin Lukins.


PDP Workshops: Spring Term 2022

The theme for our spring term workshops was ‘Transformation Through Performance. Our tutor, Mara Simpson, worked with students to focus on developing their communication and stagecraft skills and exploring ways to improve and enhance performances. A lovely informal afternoon concert at the end of the second workshop provided a great opportunity for students to put all they had learned into practice, and was thoroughly enjoyed by an appreciative audience!Well done to all of our students.


PDP Workshops: Autumn Term 2021

The PDP students were lucky to work with the renowned jazz musician Eddie Parker  to develop their Improvisation skills with the additional challenge of playing a different instrument. We have a large amount of keyboard players in this group, so we mixed up the instrumentation a little!

In Session 2, Eddie introduced the students to concept of musical conversations. He showed the strength in “owning the music”
having the ability to capture mood and emotions through music.