Teacher Hub

Meet the Teacher - James Gower, Denla British School, Bangkok

Written by William Thompson03/11/23

James Gower is Head of Prep Music at DBS, Denla British School, Bangkok, responsible for Pre Prep and Prep Music for children aged 2-13. The school follows the British Curriculum and offers iGCSE and A Levels.

The Pre Prep and Prep Teaching Team consists of 2 full time music teachers and countless visiting instrumental teachers who support the whole class instrumental and orchestral programmes, run lunchtime and after school clubs and teach 1:1 lessons.

A new building housing the Senior Music Department, Recording Studio and high spec purpose-built auditorium allows for some impressive performing opportunities for all the students. The Aaraya Hall opened with a performance of Zadok The Priest sung by students in Years 3-9 accompanied by full orchestra and this term has already seen the school hosting a Piano Competition, numerous recitals and concerts, Battle of The Bands and a Production of Oliver Jr.  As part of their curriculum lessons Years 7 and 8 have just completed a music video recording project, using the new Recording Studio and Black Box Theatre Space.

The Pre Prep and Prep Music space sees upwards of 600 students come through each week and consists of 2 class rooms and a suite of 12 practice rooms, with a music office. However the growth of the school has necessitated some changes, so we recently knocked through to create 2 ensemble rooms with a 3rd in progress. To expand the classroom space, to fit the growing orchestra and whole year group singing assemblies, walls are being knocked through from a storage area to incorporate this space into the classroom. Finally, moving the music office and adding 2 acoustic pods will mean we still retain the 12 smaller practice spaces which are filled to bursting with students coming in at lunchtimes to practice!

There remain some challenges in using the music spaces, despite the recent changes. Although class sizes are small, groups are big for the existing spaces which were designed when the school first opened, but now need adjusting as the school grows. Also our classrooms are multi purpose spaces, used to teach 3 year olds and 13 year olds in the same room. This means there is a need for different equipment to be set up and this takes up valuable teaching space and can be distracting for the younger children. There isn’t enough space to combine classes for rehearsals so the team are always looking for ways to be creative with our classrooms especially when it comes to storage and setting up for lessons.


Longer term, we will need another teacher, however this will require another classroom so we will need to plan ahead for this.

I couldn’t do my job without our Roland HS5s, although I both love and hate them! This made doing the battle of the bands possible because we can all rehearse together in same space using the silent band work stations. However the challenge of constantly fixing and tidying up the leads and instruments does make for a lot of extra work as the students aren’t very good at resetting everything after the lesson!

On my wishlist is another grand piano for ensemble rooms. People underestimate the value of an acoustic instrument to be able to differentiate between pitches. It also allows for our music scholars to be able practice on high quality instruments. We have some amazing scholars competing in and winning international music competitions, and we want to give our pianists opportunities to play in ensembles so to do this we need a piano that allows them to see each other, hear each other and to make the most of our new ensemble rooms.