The Music Department aims to encourage the development of pupils’ musical skills, knowledge and understanding through a breadth of positive musical experiences. Students develop composing skills, instrumental skills on keyboards, classroom percussion and guitars, vocal ability, score reading, and sequencing skills using ICT. They explore music from a wide range of musical styles, genres and traditions, learning to listen in detail and understand its features. We aim to sustain a thriving and ever-improving timetable of extra-curricular Music activities open to all pupils. The department consists of two full time members of staff, with seven part-time peripatetic instrumental teachers.
The Music curriculum in all Key Stages incorporates a balance of performing, composing, listening and appraising skills. Schemes of work in Key Stage 3 introduce pupils to a breadth of skills using a variety of resources. During Key Stages 4 and 5 students develop and extend more individual approaches to composing and performing. Successful group work and the effective use of music technology are integral to all Key Stage 3 topics and much of the curriculum in Key Stages 4 and 5.
Key Stage 3
All pupils in Years 7-9 have an hour of Music per week. One Music classroom is equipped as a computer suite with sequencing and notation software and MIDI keyboards. The other contains classroom percussion, keyboards and guitars. Each year pupils spend equal amounts of lesson time in the two classrooms, using the full range of resources. One group in each band in Years 8 and 9 consists of pupils who learn instruments, grouped together so that they can use their individual instruments for classroom activities. The remainder of pupils are taught in mixed-ability groups. Pupils in Key Stage 3 cover the following topics:
- Year 7: African Rhythms, Instrumental Families, Steps and Leaps, Guitar Skills, 12-Bar Blues, Keyboard Skills
- Year 8: Minor and Chromatic Scales, Elements of Music, Form and Structure, Notation Software Skills, Guitar Skills, Melody and Chords, Caribbean Music
- Year 9: Film Music, World Rhythms, Club Dance music, Jazz and Blues, Pentatonic Scales, Pop Songs
Each unit of work includes informal assessments of classroom tasks part-way through the topic, and a formal assessment of the final extended task at the end of the unit. This is awarded an achievement grade A-D and a National Curriculum Level.
Key Stage 4 – AQA GCSE Music
Exam Board: AQA GCSE Music
Music in Key Stage 4 is optional. Pupils receive three hours of Music lessons per week, following the AQA GCSE Music Specification. This is divided into five Areas of Study: Rhythm and Metre, Harmony and Tonality, Texture and Melody, Timbre and Dynamics, and Structure and Form. These are explored through three strands:-
- The Western Classical Tradition
- Popular Music of the 20th and 21st Centuries
- World Music
Lessons cover a range of skills, knowledge and understanding using pupils’ individual instrumental skills to explore topics through group compositions and performances. Pupils practise listening in detail to music from the topic areas within the three strands, in preparation for the final listening exam at the end of Year 11. They build up a portfolio of recorded solo and ensemble performances from which they choose the most successful for final submission at the end of the course. Pupils complete two compositions during the course, under controlled assessment conditions, using music software to notate their work.
Key Stage 5 – Edexcel AS/A2 Music
Exam Board: Edexcel AS/A2 Music
Sixth-formers who opt to take Music study Edexcel Music AS/A2 Level and receive nine hours of teaching time per fortnight. Students develop their performing skills in solo and/or ensemble contexts, culminating in a final performance at the end of each of the two years. They further their composing skills by working to a specific brief under controlled assessment conditions for an extended number of hours. They also study set works selected from a range of musical styles, genres and traditions. This knowledge is assessed through final listening and writing exams. At AS level the exam features listening extracts from the set works and includes a test of pupils understanding of harmony. At A2 the exam features unfamiliar music and demands more detailed analysis of the set works.
The Music Department has a busy weekly schedule of extra-curricular activities, open to all pupils at any level of ability on instruments or voices. Rehearsing on a weekly basis are Junior and Chamber Choirs; Pop Vocal Group; Junior, Senior and Jazz Bands; and Folk, Saxophone, Brass, Guitar and Flute Ensembles. There are various other student-organised small ensembles. All the large ensembles perform in concerts at the end of both Christmas and spring terms, and there are many other concerts in school and the local community throughout the year. Annually we hold music trips that alternate between week-long European concert tours and residential rehearsal weekends. We offer instrumental lessons on flute, clarinet, saxophone, the full brass range, all bowed strings, piano, drum kit, guitar, banjo, ukulele and mandolin.
Pupils in Key Stages 3 and 4 should expect to complete one piece of homework per week. In Year 7-9 pupils normally have to write two short paragraphs, each defining a given keyword or phrase and explaining the related activities that were covered during the lesson. At the end of topics they will be asked to write an evaluation which outlines their successes in the final assessment task, and their targets for improvement on future tasks. GCSE homework covers a range of tasks including listening activities, rehearsing for performances, planning composing work and revision of key topics. The volume of homework for AS and A levels is greater, and tasks usually model exam questions. Pupils write essays comparing key features of two to three set works, complete harmony exercises and rehearse their repertoire for the final assessed performances.
Head of Department:
- Miss B Wells
- Mrs D Healey (maternity cover for Miss L Mason)
Peripatetic Instrumental Teachers:
- Mr T Cameron (piano)
- Mrs B Greenwood (piano and violin)
- Mrs J Keating (brass)
- Mr J Rowland (drums)
- Mr T Sadczuk (clarinet and saxophone)
- Mrs J Williams (flute)
- Mr S Williams (guitar and plucked strings)