Moving to Downe House – Questions and Answers

Why has the week changed?
This is the only week in which Downe House can accommodate us and we will thereby be  returning to the Summer School’s traditional slot of the first full week in August.

How easy is it to get to Downe House?
The school is about 4 miles by road from Junction 13 of the M4 (Chieveley/A34). The nearest major railway station is Newbury and the best way to get to Downe House from there is by taxi, which should take about 15 minutes. Detailed information may be found here.

What will I find there?
An overview of the school site and its facilities is given here. NLMS Committee members have made three visits so far, with a fourth scheduled for the Director to settle the final details of the music accommodation that we will be using. On each occasion we have been unfailingly impressed by the standard of the accommodation and by the friendliness and professionalism of the staff. We are unanimous in our view that this is an ideal place for the Summer School.

What is the residential accommodation like?
There is a plentiful supply of modern, purpose-built living accommodation, with a mixture of mainly single, and a few double rooms. Some of these are on the ground floor, and these will be allocated on the basis of need. We will be based in two sixth-form houses and all rooms have washbasins. There are typically four bedrooms per shower facility, and we are assured categorically that the plumbing works reliably!

What is the music accommodation like?
The school has numerous suitable spaces, including a modern Performing Arts Centre, a state-of-the-art new Learning Centre with a large performance space, a music block with rehearsal and practice rooms, a chapel, and a plentiful supply of large classrooms for sectional rehearsals.

What other facilities will be available to me?
In addition to the school’s large and beautiful grounds, we will be able use the swimming pool at specified times, squash courts, tennis courts and (for controlled use only) a very well-equipped sports hall. All the usual NLMS services will still be available, including those of your very own personal shopper and, of course, a bar!

What will it cost?
As you may have started to suspect, such high quality does not come cheaply, although the Committee has decided to subsidise the fees somewhat for the first year or so to help with the transition. The 2019 residential rate will be £825 and the non-residential rate will be £595. When comparing these rates with either last year, or with other those of summer schools, please bear the following in mind:

  • The rates at Queenswood would also have been higher had we returned there this year
  • We are simply passing on Downe House’s higher charges
  • The residential and music facilities, and the catering, at Downe House are of a very high
  • All residential accommodation is of the same high standard, which we judge to be better than Queenswood’s upgraded accommodation, and the school makes no differential in the charge for individuals sharing rooms
  • The NLMS Summer School’s tutor-to-member ratio is exceptionally high, with professional specialists coaching every section, instrument and voice
  • NLMS Music Summer School runs over seven nights, unlike some others; our day-for-day charges still compare favourably with those of other summer schools and with, for example, a seven night full-board stay in a well-equipped hotel plus a full programme of daily activities.

In short, while the 2019 offer will cost more, the Committee is confident that it represents outstanding value-for-money. Bursaries will, as ever, be available for those who need financial help and to those who are willing to help with the Summer School’s running; scholarships will also available for young performers and those in shortage instruments/voices. We aim to ensure that no-one is prevented from attending by the cost alone.

Where can I find out more?
In addition to the various web-links given above and the brochure, the Society has a Facebook page and good points of contact are the Administrator, Suzanne Meaden and Hon. Secretary, Steve Walker. They will do their best to answer your questions, routing them appropriately if necessary.

How can I help?
A change of venue is always an exciting, if challenging, time. Please:

  • Book early – we have to commit to going ahead at Downe House by 1 February, and need a clear idea by then of likely numbers; the contract requires us to have a minimum of 100 residents for the week.
  • Tell other people about the Summer School and encourage them to attend – there is a particular need to replace the non-resident members whom we are likely to lose through the move.
  • Like the Society’s Facebook page and share posts with your contacts; if you use Twitter, follow us there ( and retweet our tweets.
  • Distribute brochures for us, for example to your local music shops, orchestras, bands, choirs and libraries (contact Suzanne Meaden for supplies).
  • Download the poster from the website and place it prominently wherever you think it will be helpful.
  • Stay in touch by whatever means suits you best – we always love to hear from you.