Orchestral - Tuned - Drum kit - Latin - Jazz

The percussion students at Chetham’s enjoy opportunities to explore everything from orchestral performance to Latin and jazz ensembles. Instrumental tutors include the principal percussionists of both the Hallé and BBC Philharmonic Orchestras, and a combination of instrumental and ensemble lessons enable students to develop both exemplary technique and confidence in performance.

“Being a percussionist at Chetham’s has given me endless opportunities and variety which is essential to being a well rounded musician. To be surrounded by so many like minded people is extremely enjoyable and beneficial” – James, year 12

Percussion students perform regularly with both of the School’s orchestras and with its vibrant Big Band, giving them chance to explore improvisation, jazz and kit playing as well as a wide range of tuned and untuned orchestral instruments.  Latin ensemble classes introduce students to Cuban and Brazilian rhythms and instruments including congas and cajones, ensuring that they leave Chetham’s with a thorough understanding of the full range of percussion styles.

Numerous opportunities to perform at venues including Band on the Wall and The Bridgewater Hall, offer percussionists a busy schedule of orchestral, ensemble and solo performance. A recent collaboration between Chetham’s, RNCM, Hallé and internationally renowned percussion soloist, Colin Currie saw our students performing major concerts within The Steve Reich Festival in Manchester.

Chetham’s percussionists have reached the category finals of the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition on several occasions, and the grand final in 2005 and 2009. In 2021, Chetham’s student Fang Zhang won the Grand Final of BBC Young Musician, an incredible achievement. Bing Wang was a BBC Young Musician category finalist in 2024. Probably the most famous percussion alumnus is Max Beesley, now best known as an actor but previously a major musician with Take That and Jamiroquai; other former students include Tom Arnold, Deputy MD on the Thriller tour, and folk-jazz artist Jim Molyneux.