Curriculum Leader:

Mrs J Bishop

Department Introduction:

Why do we teach music?


  • Music enhances learning and makes it more enjoyable.
  • It is scientifically proven that music enhances brain functioning.
  • Music is a universal language. It inspires common human feelings and bridges gaps between cultures that spoken languages cannot.
  • Music inspires and evokes emotion in a healthy way. It touches our emotional being and evokes moods and feelings that are sometimes difficult to express.
  • Music creates ambiance.
  • You can use music in any environment to enhance and augment what is already there.
  • All religions use music to help express spiritual values, and all religions use music to uplift the spirit.
  • Music sparks the imagination.


Music is taught to every student in Key Stage 3 and is offered as an option for GCSE and AS/A2 Levels. The department also offers instrumental tuition on all orchestral instruments, voice, piano, keyboard and guitar. These lessons supplement a diet of Curriculum Music rich in cultural influences and spanning the historical periods from Baroque to Rock and Pop. 

We aim to expose students to music that they might otherwise never hear. By doing so, we hope to impart a love and understanding of music that will enrich the students’ life.

Department Aims:

Key Stage 3:

During Key Stage 3 pupils explore a range of musical styles through listening, composing and performing. Projects cover a mixture of styles, genres and traditions.


Year 7


  • Beat that! - Rhythmic games and Recycling Samba 
  • Chinese Music – singing a folk song and composing pentatonic melodies

Year 8


  • Blues – group performances
  • Anthems – writing and performing a new school anthem
  • Latin American Music


Year 9


  • The Ground bass Challenge – Team player group work (This project forms the focus of our Personal Learning and Thinking Skills work)
  • Variations – Symphonic theme performances and  ICT based compositions                                                                                                     
  • In at the deep end – covers and arrangements of pop songs


We aim to make music exciting by offering a wide range of opportunities to find out how music is created. We encourage a contextual knowledge of the music studied and teach students how to be analytical when studying compositional devices. Students have opportunities to use their own instruments alongside classroom instruments. A class set of laptops with Garage Band and Sibelius music writing software installed is available for ICT based composition work.


Our lessons are varied and include lots of opportunity to work in pairs or groups. We teach in a practical way and with our excellent facilities and ICT equipment we are able to provide students with a range of transferable skills.

Key Stage 4:

We follow the AQA GCSE syllabus.


  1. Performing - 30%
  2. Composing - 30%
  3. Listening - 40%. Answering questions about the set works and areas of study.


The subject is covered by listening to and analysing the set works and related works, composing using techniques learned from the styles explored and performing both set works and the students own choices. 60% of the course is completed as coursework with the Listening and Understanding Examination sat during the summer session in Year 11. 


Coursework - Performing


Guidance is given as to what music should be selected for the performance module and the assessment criteria are shared with them to enable them to understand what is expected of them.  Students may offer any instrument or voice. Opportunities to perform with others are given in lessons and GCSE students are expected to be a member of at least one extra-curricular group run by the school.


Coursework - Composing


During the first year technical composition exercises are completed such as composing a Beatles style pop song using riffs and a piece using a pedal note in the style of Chopin. These exercises lead the way to periods of controlled conditions when students work on their own ideas. 


Examination - Listening & Analysis


The set works are analysed and discussed in depth. Resources are available for students to support their learning. 


The Areas of Study are:


  • Western classical music
  • Music in the 20th century
  • Popular music in context
  • World music


These Areas of Study each have set works which are covered in depth in much the same way as they are studied at AS/A2 level. This provides good preparation and a clear progression route for those wishing to study music at a higher level.


GCSE Music is a varied course. It has practical performance and composition units and with the suite of iMacs available for use it also provides students with opportunities to build their specialist ICT knowledge and skills. Music is also a highly academic subject. The knowledge and understanding required to succeed is best supported by some prior knowledge of musical theory and it is also advisable to be of a good standard on any chosen instrument before embarking on the course. We suggest a minimum of Grade 4 at the end of Year 9. We offer reduced rates on instrumental lessons taken in school on one instrument if taking GCSE Music. It is advisable to have in individual lesson if studying at this level.

Key Stage 5:

We follow the AQA AS and A Level Syllabus



Performing Music - 30% of AS or 15% of A2

Students perform at least 6 minutes of music on their chosen instrument.


Composing - 30% of AS or 15% of A2

Compositions based on a chosen brief and free composition.


Developing Musical Understanding – 40% of AS or 20% of A2

Listening questions based on set works and areas of study.



Extended Performance - 30% of A2

Students perform at least 10 minutes of music on their chosen instrument. 


Composition - 15% of A2

Composition based on a chosen brief and free choice


Further Musical Understanding – 40% of A2

Aural analysis, music in context and continuity and change in instrumental music. 




AS and A2 Music are very similar to GCSE in their structure. There are opportunities for the course to be tailored to the individual when it comes to composition. As can be seen above, there are several combinations that can be taken in this unit at A2. 



The expected performance standard is Grade 5 at AS Level and Grade 6 at A2. It is advisable to enter on Grade 5+. We continue to offer reduced instrumental teaching rates to students who opt for AS/A2 Music. In addition to this we also give an extra ½ hour teaching to those on the A2 course. This supports teaching of the final recital performance.


Musical Understanding


Set works are analysed and studied taking into account their context and purpose.


Instrumental Lessons


Individual, paired and group lessons are available on all orchestral instruments with the exception of harp.  Singing, keyboard or piano lessons and guitar lessons are also available. 


Weekly lessons are provided by specialist instrumental teachers; each lesson lasts for half an hour.  Approximately 300 students take lessons each week. These lessons are rotated during the school day, with 6th form students allocated a time when they are not in lessons wherever possible.(Lessons rotate so that students do not miss the same curriculum lesson each week). 


We have a team of 13 instrumental teachers

Extra-Curricular Activities:

Performing and listening to live music is very important. There are numerous opportunities for performing at concerts, both within school and in the community.

Extra-curricular groups include

  • Junior Choir
  • Senior Choir
  • Vocal Ensemble
  • Open Strings
  • String Orchestra 
  • Beaux Electrix
  • Wind Band
  • Concert Band
  • Jazz Band
  • Rock and Pop

There are also several chamber groups, such as wind and string quartets.

Students are taken to concerts, productions and workshops and we run events inviting students from other schools to join us for music making on a grand scale.