Music is a unique form of communication that can change the way students feel, think and act. Music forms part of our identity so a good experience of it will raise young people’s self-esteem and develop their social confidence. These values are at the heart of the curriculum and everything we do beyond it.
The music department operates from a purpose built area within the school. It has a main teaching room with associated control-room and around this five further smaller practice rooms. These give the department great flexibility in allowing small or larger groups of students to work unhindered. In each year group pupils are taught through a combination of listening, composing and performing activities covering many genres of music and its history. They explore music making before being given time and space to create, rehearse and refine their work. Performing forms a major part and a place for the enjoyment of the subject. A key focus throughout is the exploration of melody, harmony and rhythm which stimulates their musical interests at any level.
In Key Stage 3, our first aim is to get students involved: to raise their confidence in singing and in instrument playing. We also want students to have a lot of fun, both individually and in small groups, as they devise, create and then perform their pieces. All work is recorded, either as an mp3 or video recording for both formative assessment and evidence of work completed.
Across all year groups assessment uses a mixture of the following methods:
- Peer assessment of work as it progresses
- Quality of notation/written composition work
- Exploration and experimentation of instruments and techniques
- Individual contribution and team work skill
- Staff level for work
- Self-assessment tasks
sound environment through a series of activities exploring the elements of music. They undertake several instant composition and performance tasks before completing a baseline test to gauge all prior knowledge.
Areas of Study: Listening and appraising, composing then performing.
Graphic Scores We explore how musicians can write their music in a number of ways over KS3. Here we look at how composition can be realised through shapes and symbols.
Areas of Study: Composing
Keyboards in Action Much of music making is done on keyboards. This unit of work focuses on how we can use them creatively, getting to grips with some of the many functions available. Simple melodies and chords are used to allow pupils to explore the instruments and develop basic playing skills. Teacher assessment takes place throughout the unit, with ever increasing levels of difficulty encountered by the students.
Areas of Study: Performing
Ensemble playing Pupils are taught through a structured riff based song, the basics of both learning an individual part and then how to work together in an group. Their final pieces are recorded in front of a small audience.
Areas of Study: Performing
Pupils will explore the folk music of the British Isles with a focus on the Sea Shanty. A mixture of Listening, performing and arranging skills develop through the unit.
To finish the year we explore pulse, rhythm and metre. We look at traditional drumming techniques exploring the sounds and patterns within African drumming. Individual skills showing control of the instrument are also matched to the pupil’s sense of timing and accuracy as part of a larger group.
Songwriting – Covers We explore a Coldplay song and in small groups recreate our own cover versions. We use technology to help find the key elements of part. After researching the melody chords and bass lines we then develop these into individual group pieces, building on the skills first learnt in year 7.
Areas of Study: Listening and performing
Structure & Form - Theme and Variations
Areas of Study: Composing, listening & appraising the composition
Part two of looking into structure is taking a tune and playing about with it to change it as much as possible. Following an extensive listening exercise, pupils are encouraged to explore presenting as unique a piece of work as they can. They discover new musical devices to include in their work. Initial ideas are shared in class before composition properly begins with a partner.
Music through Music Technology The class are introduced to music software where they can explore how to input, manipulate and construct music through sampling and midi interface keyboards. They work with a video clip and develop skills in making musical choices, timing and accuracy of ‘hit points’ and deeper work on creating mood and atmosphere.
Areas of Study: Composing, listening & appraising the video soundtrack
Songwriting – Covers II We explore a final song and in small groups recreate our own cover versions. We use technology to help find the key elements of each part. After researching the melody chords and bass lines we then develop these into group pieces, building on the skills from the beginning of the year.
How the band comes together and presents itself aurally and visually is a part of the overall assessment.
Areas of Study: Listening and performing
The Music Department aims to develop a deep understanding and appreciation of different kinds of music and to fire up enthusiasm to look a little further. We explore the diverse and dynamic heritage of music and the essential role it has played, and continues to play, in the spiritual, moral, ethical, social and cultural lives of people from around the world, both in the past and right now.
What is the course content?
Students will be encouraged to explore a wide variety of musical styles and periods from 1600 to the present day. They will do this through listening & appraising exercises, composing to a variety of briefs and performing in both solo and ensemble situations. It is a requirement of the course that as musicians students will engage in learning an instrument of their own choice. Those who take lessons outside of the classroom are encouraged to work on pieces with their teachers to prepare for this. Others will be guided to keyboard and or vocal work in lesson time and targets set accordingly.
Students will also be encouraged to critically examine the works of other artists across several genre. The research and study of artists and artwork will include the production of written elements to support practical work. A great deal of emphasis will be placed on students’ personal and creative responses. They will be encouraged to use a diary in which to record their ideas and plans along the way
Homework will be set regularly to support and strengthen class work. A rolling program of more in depth one to one time is available to those who attend after school sessions.
The Key Stage 4 course follows the OCR Music GCSE Examination
Assessment: Students follow the OCR course. This is assessed in year 11 through 3 components:
Integrated portfolio: Performing music on a chosen instrument and a composition to a brief set by the pupil 30%
Ensemble performance and a composition to a brief set by OCR 30%
Listening & Appraising music 40%
Area of Study 1: My Music - Learners study an instrument of their choice performing pieces for a minimum of 4 minutes, of which at least 1 minute is in ensemble.
Area of Study 2: The Concerto through Time – Learners study the Concerto and its development from 1650 to 1910 through Baroque, Classical and Romantic periods of history.
Area of Study 3: Rhythms of the World – Learners study the traditional rhythmic roots from India, Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, Africa and Central/South America.
Area of Study 4: Film Music – Learners study a range of music used for films, written especially, from the Western Classical Tradition and video game sound tracks.
Area of Study 5: Conventions of Pop – Learners study a range of popular music from 1950 to the present day through Rock ‘n Roll of the 50’s & 60’s, Rock Anthems from 70’s & 80’s, Pop Ballads from 70’s to 90’s, Solo Artists from 1990 to the present.
Year 9 & 10
Year 9 & 10
We begin preparation for GCSE music by exploring the basics of Western notation. We look at early ensembles from the Baroque and Classical periods. As being a performer forms a large part of the course we begin looking at performing as a soloist on their chosen instruments. Composition tasks, short and targeted reinforce both theory and practical sessions. We begin using SIBELIUS notational software.
- Peer assessment and discussion of work in progress
- Individual targets according to needs within performance and composition tasks
- Staff levelling of work
- Self-assessment tasks
We move onto working with lyrics. Explore key signatures and associated notations through the Area of Study 4 – Popular Music. We research pop styles and begin developing ensemble performance pieces. We look at Christmas pieces and attempt writing Christmas songs or carols.
In the spring term we prepare solo pieces for performance. We continue composing short task pieces exploring new ideas in harmony and rhythm. We revise previous work and research another time period in music. We look at cadences, chords beyond block harmony and using Roman numerals for notation. We explore composing using 4 chord tricks and revisit SIBELIUS software to help notate.
Summer term is spent revisiting all areas covered so far. We explore composing again focussing on how to develop chords and adding bass lines. We go into extended melody writing and look at simple musical structures to plan around. We continue preparing for both solo and ensemble opportunities. We look at later ensembles from the Romantic and Neo-Classical periods. We end the year composing to a set brief in a similar style to that set by the examining board.
Students begin the year by revisiting almost every aspect of their music making since the start of the course. We begin work on the set brief provided by the board and compose an extended piece showing as many of the skills now learnt as we can. We continue to work on our playing/singing technique in preparation for an examination day in the February. Where appropriate, students will be marked according to formal GCSE grades and effort levels.
We listen to, critique and analyse a huge amount of music covering different forms and structures, types of ensemble, film music and popular music including Bhangra and Fusion. We complete all composing for both the externally set work and a free choice composition. We ensure it is both recorded/performed and notated to the best of our ability.
We revise much of the theory covered in years 10 & 11 supported by listening examples and revision exercises. We use, where available, past paper questions or questions created in house in the style of those found in the final listening examination.