“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” ― Plato
The music department aims to enable all pupils to access and experience music from all cultures, backgrounds and historical contexts. We believe in the value of music because of its importance in making connections with the world and expression within ourselves but also with the world around us. Whilst adhering to the National Curriculum the wider curriculum and extra-curricular offer we aim to:
- Create the environment and opportunities for pupils to access a relevant, inspiring music education led and delivered by specialist teachers
- Reduce the barriers for engagement for all pupils so that all pupil can access our music offer regardless their background, SEN, culture
- Keeping creativity and relevance at the heart of our thinking and make appropriate use of modern technology to enhance the pace of learning.
- Embrace collaboration – cross curricular – link with Drama, History, DT, ICT, Numeracy and literacy
- Engaging with the wider local community
- Support the development of skills which will prepare for success in public examinations such as GCSE, A Level and Music Specific Examinations. (ABRSM, RGT etc)
Choice of Content
Pupils need to develop knowledge and skill in the three National Curriculum areas of Composing, Performing as well as Listening and Appraisal. Pupils will become increasingly skilled in all three areas and develop competence through a spiral curriculum where each musical experience builds and extends upon what has been previously learnt.
- Composing – pupils are able to develop wider curriculum skills such as: curiosity, inquiring minds, retrieval, through composition activities and stages such as: experimenting, improvising, creating musical ideas, developing, refining and evaluation.
- Performing – confidence, presentation skills and resilience are promoted through technical control, musical expression as well as accuracy. Every child has the opportunity to perform to an audience either in class or at a concert or event.
- Listening and Appraising – to ensure a broad musical experience, a range of topics are studied. Pupils undertake describing, identifying musical features, reflecting on what they have heard and how it relates to them.
Enable pupils to develop critical engagement and a “deep understanding of the music that they perform and to which they listen and its history” (National Curriculum 2013)
At Key Stage 4 and 5 we have chosen the Edexcel specification because of its choice of Set Works which mirror our aim to provide a diverse musical experience. The works that pupils will study cover a range of genres and historical periods and enable pupils to engage in a critical way making links with the context of the piece. Rather than choosing the most popular specification, we regularly review our choice with the question “is this the best choice for our pupils and will it enable them to achieve success? The HOD meets with other local Heads of Music to discuss matters relating to GCSE and A level Music.
The extra-curricular musical offer goes hand in hand with the curriculum. Practise rooms can be used before and after school by pupils and there are a wide range of clubs offered in diverse musical styles. Clubs and instrumental/vocal lessons are delivered by specialist teachers under the leadership of the Director of Instrumental Studies. To sum up, we desire to enable pupils to develop critical engagement and a “deep understanding of the music that they perform and to which they listen and its history” (National Curriculum 2013)
We also intend to use chromebooks so that pupils can access activities- worksheets, instructions and internet links to support learning activities and homework.
To address gaps in knowledge in year 11 and 13 we intend to offer a tailored intervention programme. This will also take into account the changes to the exam content for 2022.
The timetable allocation is as follows:
- Key Stage 3 – 2x 1hour lessons per fortnight
- Key Stage 4 (GCSE option group) -4 x 1 hour lessons per fortnight (also intervention 1 hour per week after school)
- Key Stage 5 (A Level option group) 10x 1hour lessons per fortnight in both years 12 &13
- 6th Form Music Academy, Enrichment programme – 2x1hour sessions per fortnight
Classroom music is taught through various topics which give a sample of each flavour of a range of musical styles. Whilst the spiral curriculum model enables for progression upwards i.e. becoming increasingly more challenging there is also progression across the curriculum to create a deep and wide music curriculum. Topics and timings are discussed at department level to take account of: what pupils need to know, understand and do, links to GCSE and A Level courses, staff expertise and pupil engagement. At the core of the content are the elements of music – Dynamics, Rhythm and Metre, Context, Structure, Melody, Instrumentation, Texture, Harmony and Tonality (otherwise known as DR C SMITH)
- Year 7 – Focus is on establishing classroom based routines and an introduction or a re-introductions to the foundations of music.
- Units include: Music and Me, Samba, Keyboard Skills, Orchestral Instruments, Reggae. All pupils have the opportunity to perform at a concert.
- Year 8 Building on the year 7 work, we cover topics such as: Rock and Roll, The Beatles, Theme and Variation, Indian Music
- Year 9 This is very much a transition year moving from key stage 3 to the start of GCSE. In terms 4&5, pupils are encouraged to think about GCSE Music via the topics of: Music and War, Film Music, Ground Bass
- Year 10– Step up to GCSE -Set Works -use of long term memory techniques especially retrieval skills
- Year 11 -Completion of coursework, Revision
- Year 12 – Set Works – study of harmony, more sophisticated composition techniques,
- Year 13 – Coursework and revision.
Present staffing consists of 3 teachers HOD, and 2 part time staff each with different expertise. One of the part time members of staff focuses on year 7 and is a choral expert which she uses to support the curriculum via the choice of suitable repertoire for both curriculum and extra curricular activities. The other part time member of staff leads the instrumental scheme. Regular department meetings and school appraisal systems are viewed as opportunities to plan, moderate and share good practise.
Our aim with assessment is that we as both pupils and staff know what we are assessing, how we assess and use the information to lead onto the next step of the musical journey. We have adopted various ways of using practical projects and a termly listening test as well as pupil self reflection to support both teaching and learning. Each pupil has a tracker sheet which is a record of their progress and opportunity for them to reflect on their learning in that unit and how they have developed. These are assessed using similar criteria to the GCSE and A Level. New knowledge is built upon a strong foundation of prior learning and connections are made between work completed the previous lesson, unit and year group. For example, GCSE pupils are reminded about the unit they competed in year 9 on Ground Bass but also expected to know what a chord is based on content from year 7. Fluency in performance work is about layering and re-layering skills so that they become instinctive. We expect pupils using the keyboard to use all five fingers to play the keyboard because this is part of the rehearsal process.
At Key Stages 4&5, a similar system is in place with frequent review points.
SEN pupils – often music can be a form of expression for SEN and something in which they feel confident as it is a language that enables them to effectively communicate. The department adapts lessons and uses strategies such as scaffolding to accommodate the diverse needs of our pupils. Many of our SEN pupils learn instruments or have singing lessons through the school’s instrumental scheme.
The skills of literacy and numeracy are woven into lessons with a focus on knowing and applying key vocabulary from each unit and the retrieval of knowledge from previous topics. We also aim to ensure that written work follows the school policy and spelling and grammar errors are corrected and addressed. Opportunities to develop oracy are plentiful as pupils work in pairs and discuss musical ideas as well as class discussion on the music being studied.
Some pupils enter the school with often little to no musical experience whilst others enter having achieved graded exams in performance. The department, whilst giving equality of opportunity and experience, realises the activities need to be adapted and bespoke to each pupil. An accelerated curriculum is applied for some pupils especially in year 9 where those opting for GCSE are given a booster theory course for term 5. Instrumentalists are encouraged to perform to the class and use their instruments and knowledge in lessons.
When studying some styles of music, it can be the case that the pupil is ‘the expert’. This is especially true in the Indian Music topic where pupils have grown up immersed in Bollywood, Bhangra and Classical Indian Music. They are encouraged to bring and share this knowledge so that the teacher is in some way a learner too.
Homework – at key stage 3 there is one homework set per term. At Key Stage 4, 5 this homework includes regular practise and attendance at instrumental/vocal lessons.
As well as knowing, remembering and being able to make more music, pupils leave The Key Stage 3 Scheme of Work fully meets, if not exceeds, the requirements of the National Curriculum.
The impact of Music at the Math is not always evident as sometimes musical seeds which are planted may develop even years later when a person may decide to learn an instrument in retirement! As the pupils have described it, “Music is for life, not just school. It’s about turning potential into reality”.
We view our impact through:
- Results in GCSE and A LEVEL
- Pupil self-evaluation of what they know, have learnt and can do. At the end of each term in Key Stage 3, pupils complete a self-evaluation. This enables us to gauge the effectiveness of our teaching and what the pupils have learnt and achieved so that we can plan more effectively.
- Numbers of pupils opting for GCSE and A Level
The department offers both GCSE and A Level Music. Numbers at both levels have been good (15+ pupils at GCSE and 4 for A Level). However, in 2020, the number of pupils opting for GCSE fell from 22 (year 11 2021-2022) to 6 (year 10 2021-2022) Similarly, the number of pupils opting for A Level fell from to 1. Although this seems to be a national trend, we are confident that now pupils are back to having a more practical experience and able to attend lunchtime clubs, numbers will return to, or be more than, the uptake pre-pandemic.
- Uptake of instrumental lessons – currently there are over 200 pupils learning an instrument.
- Concerts – numbers of pupils involved and quality of performances – this will be expanded on as we are only just returning to instrumental and vocal groups.
- Examination results – instrumental – Many pupils have taken Graded examinations although data is still to be collected.
- Involvement in County and MMA KNBJ
- Pupils who continue to study music at university or music colleges – currently 3 out of 4