Sir Ken Robinson said, "Creativity is now as important in education as literacy". Arts can help us break out of traditional patterns of thinking and adopt fresh approaches to intellectual experiences. The arts complement more traditional subjects by enhancing creative thinking skills.

To fully participate in today’s global community, students must master the 4 C’s – Creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration. Just as the 4 C's have become integral in education (moving on from the 3 R's of reading, writing, and arithmetic), STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) have evolved into STEAM - which now includes the arts. STEAM fosters creativity, innovation, and economic growth. The arts have been recognised as being important for a well-rounded education and students at John McGlashan College are lucky to have the opportunity to engage in a range of extra-curricular activities at school.  

There are many great music opportunities run throughout New Zealand. At John McGlashan College, students are encouraged to work toward the opportunities below, if you have further questions about these then please talk with Dr Martin. 

Instrumental Tuition

At present, instrumental tuition is offered in Guitar, Bass Guitar, Drums, Piano, Voice, Woodwind and Brass. As we are part of the Itinerant Music Programme, if a student is interested in learning any instrument, lessons can be arranged.

Rockshop Bandquest, year 7- 8

Rockshop Bandquest is a platform for the next generation of contemporary musicians to step out and perform in a supportive and encouraging competition format, with a focus on education, inspiration, and entertainment. The idea behind Rockshop Bandquest is to encourage Primary and Intermediate aged students onto the stage, teaching them performance skills and the importance of teamwork. This provides a goal for young contemporary musicians to focus on, offer incentives for them, build their confidence, provide them with inspiration from their peers and support Music staff, highlighting the great work they do with their students.

Smokefreerockquest, year 9 -13

Smokefreerockquest is New Zealand’s only nationwide, live, original music, youth event. Now in its 31st year, the series of over 40 events reaches audience numbers in excess of 10,000 every year. Smokefreerockquest aims to motivate young musicians to prove their ability and realise the heights they can reach in their music careers and to encourage their peers to support original New Zealand music.

Play It Strange

Established in 2003, Play It Strange exists to provide pathways of creativity through songwriting – also the recording, performance and celebration of those songs. Play It Strange has a number of programmes and competitions in place to achieve these goals.

There are:

  • Songwriting competitions from where those judged as finalists get to record their songs in professional studios to be released on a digital album.
  • Other song-based programmes and informative avenues.

John McGlashan Big Band/John McGlashan College Small Combo

John McGlashan runs two jazz groups; the John McGlashan Big Band and the John McGlashan College Small Combo. These two groups are run by Itinerant Music Tutor Ross Kane and rehearse every Friday in the Music Department. These groups work towards performances at the annual Dunedin Youth Jazz Festival and school functions such as the John McGlashan College Annual Fête.

There are also many other opportunities for musicians at John McGlashan College including participation in the Otago Secondary Schools Music Festival, NZCT Chamber Music Contest or playing in the John McGlashan College Pipe Band.

If you are interested in any of the performing arts extra-curricular activities below and want to know more, please contact Ms Fridd.

School Production

Every second year McGlashan does a combined production with St Hilda’s and Columba students, which is facilitated by our college. We have done a range of shows over the years and they are always the highlight of the school social calendar. Students have got involved in a number of ways, including performing on stage, helping backstage in the crew, working on lighting, sound, props, costumes, hair and make-up.

This year we are planning a McGlashan Arts Extravaganza event run over two consecutive nights in the Chapel. It will feature a range of items from drama, music, improv, slam poetry, and visual art. More details to come over the following weeks.

Film club

In the past, we’ve had a very keen bunch of students who have gathered together each year to create short films together. A few years ago, our film group won the New Zealand Schools Gigatown Film Competition.

Have a look at this documentary about what our film boys have been up to: 

This year we have a group entering in the Focus on Ability Short Film Festival, which is an Australasian Competition for schools.


Improv Group - Theatresports

When: Tuesday lunchtimes - juniors & seniors (eat your lunch before you come), Thursday lunchtimes - seniors

Where: JMC Drama room, Basement Level ELC

Dunedin Secondary School Improv Jam

When: Every Friday after school from 3.30pm until 5 pm

Where: King Edward Technical College (on Stuart Street)

Facebook page:  Please click here

The Improv club is proud to offer a chance for John McGlashan students to develop confidence, creativity and problem-solving skills through the art of improv. The love of improv and in particular “Theatresports” is growing here at school, and students have the opportunity to take part in weekly lunchtime sessions for junior and senior students. The emphasis in these improv sessions is on building characters and on spontaneous, collaborative storytelling, as well as building technical improv skills.

The weekly Theatresports-Jam with other local Dunedin schools allows students to participate in the art form under the expert guidance of professional Drama & English teachers. “Theatresports is a form of improvisation which uses the format of a competition for dramatic effect”.  Students are split into teams of four and perform scenes based on audience suggestions, with ratings by a panel of teachers, and constructive feedback from the student audience. These sessions are fun, fast-paced, and competitive.

The senior improv group also competes each year in the Winter Sports Exchange against St Andrew’s College from Christchurch. We also have a senior team who competes in the Dunedin Schools Competition, run by Improsaurus. The winner of this competition gets to travel to Christchurch to compete with Canterbury Schools for the South Island Trophy.

SGCNZ University of Otago Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival 

Annually, or bi-annually, McGlashan enters a group into the SGCNZ University of Otago Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival Otago Regional Final.  In past years, we’ve had groups perform scenes from Macbeth, Hamlet, and Romeo & Juliet, to name a few. 

What is the SGCNZ?  Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand (SGCNZ) is a life skills enhancing organisation through Shakespeare. It interacts and collaborates with Shakespeare’s Globe in London.

Developing skills of young people, including collaboration, co-operation, compromise, and at the same time, leadership, self-presentation, self- confidence, self-esteem, time management, project management and performance evaluation are just some of the key skills SGCNZ enhances, by providing opportunities for all to realise their potential on stage through festivals, its flow on activities, and the associated competitions in costume and static image design, music composition and writing. Interns from universities around the globe and local volunteers gain invaluable arts administration work experience.

SGCNZ encourages people to relish the richness of language, have fun with figures of speech, explore literature and let their imaginary forces work…!