Music plays a large part in the life of the school and the department's many ensembles and choirs have a strong reputation locally and beyond.

The department has a team of 17 visiting peripatetic music instructors, all of whom are professional musicians and many are graduates of the country's top conservatoires. All pupils are encouraged to study a musical instrument of their choice and lessons can be taken just for personal enjoyment or can lead to grade examinations of The Royal Schools of Music. Many universities now recognize these qualifications, and grade examinations carry UCAS points from grade 6 upwards.

Key Stage 3

At Key Stage 3 pupils will study a broad-based curriculum in performance, composition, history of music and listening to and appraising of music. All genres of music will be covered including the Western Classical Tradition, Jazz, Blues, World Music and Popular Music from 1950 to the present day.

There are regular assessments which allow pupils to follow their progress in the four skill areas and these all work towards a solid foundation in preparation for GCSE Music which can be taken as an option at Key Stage 4.

Key Stage 4

At Key Stage 4 pupils study the AQA GCSE Music Specification which is assessed at the end of Year 11 by a terminal examination and controlled assessments in composition and performance.

Unit 1 - Listening to and Appraising Music

This unit is worth 20% of the overall GCSE and is a 1 hour listening examination taken at the end of the course in year 11. It features questions on a wide variety of music across all genres and pupils will be expected to answer questions on the five areas of study; Rhythm and Metre, Harmony and Tonality, Texture and Melody, Timbre and Dynamics and Structure and Form.

Unit 2 - Composing and Appraising Music

Worth 20% of the overall examination this paper requires the candidates to compose a piece of music based on a strand set by AQA each year. This is a controlled assessment completed in 20 hours and also features an evaluation of the work by candidates.

Unit 3 - Performing Music

Worth 40% of the examination candidates record two performances one as an individual and one as part of a small group or ensemble. This is worth 60 marks and candidates are expected to work on developing their performance skills in their chosen instrument throughout the course.

Unit 4 - Composing Music

This is again a controlled assessment and takes place over 25 hours. Candidates compose one piece of music in style chosen by them based on two of the areas of study. This is worth 30 marks and 20% of the overall GCSE.

To see the AQA GCSE Music specification, please click HERE

Key Stage 5

Students study the OCR A level specification

AS Modules

  • Performing Music 1
  • Composing 1
  • Introduction to Historical study in Music

A2 Modules

  • Performing Music 2 (Interpretation)
  • Composing 2
  • Historical and Analytical Studies in Music

More information on this course can be found under the Sixth Form section of the web site.

Extra-Curricular Music

There is a vibrant and varied programme of choirs, bands and groups that pupils can join. These cover all ages and abilities and include:

  • Junior Choir
  • Senior Vocals (Girls Choir)
  • Cantores (SATB Choir)
  • Orchestra
  • String Orchestra
  • Wind Band
  • Concert Band
  • Brass Ensemble
  • Flute Choir
  • Guitar Group
  • Folk Direction (Folk Band)
  • Jazz Band (Senior)
  • Discovery Jazz Band (Junior)

The Senior ensembles perform concerts throughout the region and beyond and undertake a foreign concert tour each year. To date the choirs and bands have toured to Paris, Belgium, Northern Spain, Tuscany, Venice, Poland, Hungary, Malta, Holland and Austria. On the most recent tour of Italy Cantores were privileged to sing Mass at the Basilica de Saint Marco in Venice. The choirs and bands will be touring Croatia in 2014.


Miss H. F. Davies (Head of Department)
Miss J Fallows

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