Year 7 to 9
All students in Years 7-8 have a weekly Academic Music lesson as part of their core timetable, and it is an option in Year 9. Performance and Composition are built into every scheme of work, allowing pupils to experience all aspects of a wide range of music. Listening and Appraising work begins from the very start of Year 7, and these fundamentals of musical analysis underpin everything that follows; this way, all of our pupils are exposed to key GCSE approaches, and terminology, from the very get-go.
We use music technology in all of our lessons, both in performance and composition, so that our musicians are equipped with the requisite skills to engage with music in a modern and relevant way. Whilst units like Song Writing and our Introduction to Cubase are natural examples, this is even the case in the study of Baroque and Classical music; music technology truly is embedded within our curriculum.
Our aim is that, by the end of Year 9, pupils electing to study Music at GCSE will have encountered music from the Renaissance to the present-day, identified ‘who they are’ as composers and performers, and developed the ability to analyse and evaluate any piece of music from any genre or style. It is a challenging aim, but one which our academic team go about with real passion and experience.
Year 10 and 11
Students who study GCSE Music are so much more than just performers. Studying GCSE Music allows you to develop a wide range of valuable skills, and study a hugely diverse range of music.
We follow the Edexcel specification, a challenging GCSE course which develops a range of valuable skills for both the further study of music at Sixth Form and beyond, but also for the world of work. Students are encouraged to engage critically and creatively with a wide range of musical styles, develop an understanding of music from different cultures and contexts, and reflect on how music is used in the expression of personal and collective identities. Whether our pupils intend to continue with their study of music beyond Year 11, or just further their personal musicianship, we hope to develop in them the skills to engender a lifelong love of music, and to excel at GCSE and beyond.
The GCSE Edexcel specification helps our students develop these skills through three main elements: Performance (30% of the overall GCSE mark), Composition (a further 30%) and Appraising (40%).
- Performing: Students who choose GCSE Music will already be learning at least one instrument and must continue with this instrument for the duration of the course. They will record one solo and one ensemble performance (submitted as coursework) and should be playing at a minimum of Grade 4 standard when they start the course.
- Composing: Students will learn to compose music in various styles and will submit two compositions to the exam board towards the end of the course.
- Appraising: This unit is assessed at the end of the course in an exam in which students listen to musical extracts and respond to questions on eight set works. These are drawn from the following Areas of Study:
Area of Study 1: Instrumental Music 1700–1820
Area of Study 2: Vocal Music
Area of Study 3: Music for Stage & Screen
Area of Study 4: Fusions
Year 12 and 13
We follow the Edexcel specification at A level, too, which allows our pupils to further develop those performance, composition and appraising skills fundamental to the GCSE. The course is set up in exactly the same way, but with a larger number of set works and the addition of the study of specific compositional skills.
The A level also requires pupils to engage with a large number of music related to their set works.