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Key Stage 3

The main aim for music at Key Stage 3 is to get pupils enjoying music making and improve their understanding of all musical aspects. Lessons across all years contain a high percentage of practical work, which takes place through creating compositions and performances. In addition to this, the reading of notation and the development of analysis skills, through the use of allocated set works, is used in connection with tasks in these areas. In doing this, pupils have a well-rounded grounding for GCSE.

In Year 7, pupils enjoy ‘finding their voice’ through part singing and using body percussion / beatboxing to understand the basic principles of rhythm.  They quickly learn how to read and write rhythms using proper musical notation.  After a basic grounding in notation, pupils develop their keyboard skills through a performance of Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’.  Students then move on to the instruments of orchestra and continue to develop keyboard skills through the study of Saint-Saens’ ‘Carnival of the Animals’. After learning about chords and progressions, students turn to technology-based skills with them looking at popular songs and then using GarageBand to create their own versions of classical pieces.

Pupils in year 8 get to experience a wider range of music styles, with each half term bringing its new style. To start the year, pupils look at jazz and blues music, studying ‘In the Mood’ by Glenn Miller and learning the art of jazz improvisation.  In the spring term, pupils looking at composing their own song in a popular style as well as studying reggae music at the music of Bob Marley.  During the summer term pupils delve into the magical world of film music, with the soundtracks of John Williams a key focus.  In addition to the performance and compositional elements, pupils will continue to build on note reading and analysis. 

Key Stage 4

In the initial year of GCSE, year 9 pupils will now spend the year honing the different skills required of them for the full GCSE. This will very much take on the format of Musical Futures, which looks at creating polished versions of songs using their original instrumentation. For example, pupils will combine guitar, piano, bass, drums and vocals, helping to build both their skills and their confidence in performing. Additionally, it will also be a chance for them to explore different styles of composition with each one linking to an area of study from the GCSE Syllabus.

Eduqas GCSE Music (2 year course)

In light of the new GCSEs it was decided that pupils would need a syllabus that suited them and enabled them to achieve as best they could. This was the main reason for choosing Eduqas as it can be tailored more to the pupils and unlike some of the other boards, the performance aspect doesn’t require a solo performance. The course is divided into the following three components:

Performance Portfolio (30%):

This requires pupils to put together a selection of pieces to the total of 4 – 6 minutes. They must perform a minimum of two pieces during the second year of the course, with one being an ensemble performance of at least one minute in length. To complete the portfolio, pupils may choose to perform as a soloist, in a group or on a different instrument. The decision of piece and instrument is entirely theirs, but are steered in the right direction by the music teachers as pieces that are below Grade 3 standard will be marked down. Click here for suggested pieces.

Composition Portfolio (30%):

This requires pupils to create two pieces of music; one of which is a free choice which is set to the learners own brief. The other composition must reflect one of the four stimuli set by the exam board. The composition brief for this is released during the first week of the year 11 of the course and must be completed within that year.

Appraising Exam (40%):

Taken as a listening exam at the end of the course, pupils will be asked eight questions, which may be from any of the styles and elements that have been covered throughout the course. This may include, but not be limited to, classical, jazz, pop, musical theatre, fusion and rock. Included in this will be two questions about set works. Eine Kleine Nachtmusik by Mozart (for classical) and Since You’ve Been Gone by Rainbow(for rock/pop). These two will be studied in depth throughout the course with students creating compositions and performances based around them.

Extra Curricula:

Over the past couple of years, there have been 5 performances which have seen music and drama combine together to create productions. For year 9, this has been through performing The Ghosts of Hare Hall, which is based around the school during the war and for combined years there has been Christmas Showcase (December 2015), Magic of the Musicals (April 2016) and most recently the pantomime Aladdin (December 2016). There have also been three music based trips which allowed pupils to experience a wide range of music in different ways. These involved taking year 10 pupils to The Barbican Centre (May 2016) for a classical concert, taking combined Key Stage 3 and 4 pupils to Wembley Arena (July 2016) for Rock Assembly and taking year 7 pupils to The O2 (January 2017) to perform as part of Young Voices.

In addition to these trips and performances, there has been a big increase in pupils taking dedicated study of an instrument with the current uptake around 30. Lessons take place throughout the week and cover a wide range of instruments including guitar, trumpet, cello, drums, piano, clarinet and saxophone.  It is highly encouraged that pupils do this, especially if they are planning to study music at GCSE.

For those interested in finding out more about peripatetic music lessons, please visit