Students use a variety of percussion instruments to explore timbre, pitch, tempo, texture, dynamics, duration, structure, and silence. They learn to identify different musical instruments, styles, and contemporary musical genres.
Students discover the importance of music to create atmosphere in films and computer games, and they will listen to a number of different composers from Bach to the Beatles.
Throughout the year they will learn to use music technology such as GarageBand, and will learn to play percussion and keyboards. They will also be able to take part in Junk Band Drumming and have access to additional lessons from visiting peripatetic tutors.
Year 8 and 9
Students in Year 8 and 9 are currently following parallel courses which extend their knowledge of Musical Elements from Year 7 and introduce more formal musical terminology. They create their own compositions using GarageBand and have the opportunity to create a Christmas Carol or a Pop Song for a competition. They will learn more about how music is used in films and will start to compose their own soundtrack for a film clip. Students learn more about contemporary composers through their unit on Film Music and when looking at modern Musicals, and will also learn something of the social and cultural stories behind films like ‘Oliver’ and ‘Billy Elliot’.
As they move from Year 8 into Year 9 they may also start to focus on an instrument of their choice as a performance piece, which may include their own voice and singing.
Students throughout Key Stage 3 are always encouraged to try new instruments and teaching staff are always ready to spend extra time giving them support on drums, guitars, keyboards, and singing, and are also happy to explore setting up tuition on other instruments too.
Students in Year 9 with a particular interest in music are encouraged to consider following the subject to exam level in Key Stage 4.
Pupils in Key Stage 4 have the option to study Music in greater depth, with a view to taking the OCR GCSE examinations board. The course currently incorporates a combination of music theory, music appreciation and listening skills, composition tasks, and both solo and group performance.
Students following this course will study four key Areas of Study:
AoS 1: My Music (their own instrument) – which may be guitar, keyboard, voice, sequencing and sampling, DJ mixing, or even beatboxing.
They will learn about its range, characteristic timbre and technical strengths and limitations; its use in different genres, its impact on ensembles and natural techniques, and the contextual influences on the way it is used.
AoS 2: Shared Music (Musical relationships and roles)
They will study how musicians work together in different styles and cultural contexts, by exploring how a solo part is supported and enhanced by an accompaniment in a duet, trio or a larger ensemble.
AoS 3: Dance Music
Students study the characteristic features and rhythmic patterns of three types of social dance drawn from contrasting social/historical/geographical contexts.
These are Paired dances, such as Waltz, Tango and Salsa; Group dances such as American Line Dance, Irish Jig and Bhangra; and Improvised dance such as Disco.
AoS 4: Descriptive Music
Candidates will study descriptive music from the 1800’s to the present day. Music is a highly expressive medium and candidates should explore how composers have used music to convey stories, paint pictures and set scenes through Symphonic music and through Film Music.
Throughout Year 10 students will listen to a variety of different musical sources and will begin to develop vocabulary for describing and evaluating what they hear. They will develop skills on their chosen instrument, and will begin to learn techniques for composing tunes in a given style or for a given purpose.
The music timetable usually includes at least one session dedicated to ‘band practice’ and the students also have access to peripatetic music specialists.
Outside of the classroom they are encouraged to listen to a wide range of music e.g. from films and musicals, and on radio stations such as Radio 3 and Classic FM.
At the end of Year 11 they will assessed by a number of tasks:
- a solo performance, with an accompanying composition and commentary;
- a group performance, with an accompanying composition, log and evaluation;
- a ‘creative task’ composition under controlled (exam) conditions
- a ‘listening test’, lasting 1 ½ hours under exam conditions.