Rapple on the Radio

‘Radio Berkshire has a very broad definition of culture,’ says Shiplake College’s Louise Rapple, who is a regular on the local radio station’s Culture Panel.  ‘One presenter, two guests and three topics for discussion is the show’s formula. Sometimes our discussion is definitely cultural, but at other times it might fall better into the ‘entertainment’ category – such as the chat we had the day after one of the cast of ‘Only Fools and Horses’ died – neither the presenter nor the panellists had ever seen the show, so I imagine our "cultural discussion" was probably very entertaining to anyone who had.’

The Sarah Walker show invites a variety of local authors, musicians and media personalities to be panellists on Thursday afternoons from 2pm, and Louise is a regular, usually appearing every couple of months. Illustrating the show’s diversity the DJ Mike Read, whose career has taken him through local 210 FM to Radio 1 and thence to TV presenter stardom, was standing in for Sarah Walker as the show’s when Louise last appeared.

 Louise, who is the College’s Music and Careers secretary, as well as being a mainstay of the Music Department, has learnt to adapt to live radio. ‘Often I find out what the day’s topics are just a few minutes before I go on air. Fortunately I don’t do ‘lost for words’ so I am generally able to make some sort of contribution, however ill-informed, whatever the topic! A few months ago I managed to insult viola players the world over with an off-the-cuff comment which possibly would have been better internalised, and, because I don’t have a television at home, my comments on the likes of Strictly and Big Brother are usually rather generalised… but give me a topic such as World Book Day and I’m away. Essentially I am there because I am the director of well-known Reading Chamber Choir, Tamesis, which qualifies me for the ‘cultural’ label, but in reality choral music rarely pops up as a topic of discussion on the show so I have to think on my feet.’

Louise’s next appearance on Radio Berkshire will be at 2pm on Thursday 8thNovember for anyone who wants to tune in.



Music plays a very important part in the life of Shiplake College. A new, purpose-built Music School is set for completion in 2014 offering pupils outstanding facilities. Shiplake College has a vibrant Music Department which is proud to offer 'music for all'.

Every pupil in Years 7 and 8 enjoys free lessons on a range of orchestral instruments with all achieving Grade 1 in Year 8. All girls in Years 12 and 13 sing in the Girls' Choir performing regularly in concerts and services. The entire College community also enjoy regular music-making opportunities with the annual ‘Battle of the Bands’ and the House Singing Competition.

Pupils follow a varied curriculum in Years 7 to 9 with an emphasis on developing the key musical skills of performing, composing and listening and appraising. This is done through the completion of projects such as The Journey to Jazz, The Music Industry and Music Around the World. Each project contains opportunities for personalised learning and more and more pupils are accessing the music curriculum through personal mobile devices such as iPads. Many pupils then choose to pursue Music as an option at GCSE, A Level and BTEC (all Edexcel).

There are a wide variety of extra-curricular ensembles on offer; from the auditioned Chamber Choir to the fully inclusive Rock Choir and from the selective Soul Band to the Lower School Orchestra, which includes every pupil in Years 7 and 8. Music also plays a leading role in Assemblies and Chapel services and all pupils look forward to the weekly Hymn Practice often taken by the Headmaster!

All groups take advantage of regular opportunities to perform throughout the year in high-profile concerts and events both in College and in collaboration with neighbouring schools. Professional musicians regularly visit the College offering demonstrations and master classes and pupils are taken on trips to concerts in the local area and in London. Many pupils also enjoy individual instrumental and vocal lessons from our dedicated team of peripatetic musicians. 

Extra-Curricular Programme 2013-2014

Music ensembles and activities include:

  • Guitar Workshop
  • Chamber Choir
  • Brass Group
  • String Group
  • Saxophone Group
  • Theory Workshop
  • Lower School Choir
  • Girls' Choir
  • Rock Choir
  • Senior Orchestra
  • Senior Vocal Group
  • Garageband
  • Motown Band
  • Lower School Tasters
  • Coursework Clinic
  • Shiplake Community Choir
Click here for the 2013-2014 extra-curricular music timetable.

Concerts and Recitals 2013-2014

  • Joint Concert with Queen Anne's School: Thursday 17th October 2013 (7.30pm, Great Hall)
  • Winter Concert: Tuesday 26 November 2013 (7.30pm, Sports Hall)
  • A Night at the West End with Queen Anne's School: Friday 14 February 2014 (7.30pm, QAS)
  • Joint Vocal Concert with Queen Anne's School: Thursday 20 March 2014 (7.30pm, QAS)
  • Spring Concert: Thursday 3 April 2014 (7.30pm, Sports Hall)
  • Music Scholars' Recital: Friday 6 June 2014 (7.30pm, Great Hall)
  • Summer Concert: Monday 23 June 2014 (7.30pm, Marquee)