The curriculum from KS3 onwards is based on development of knowledge, understanding and skills that are linked to GCSE and A level music. This is divided into performance, composition, and listening and appraising skills. These disciplines are taught through a wide range of topics that:
- inspire and challenge all students;
- provide a wide range of opportunities for working independently and also collaborating with others;
- provide a broad, balanced and engaging curriculum for all;
- provide opportunities which develop depth and application of knowledge, skills, independence, resilience, literacy and challenge;
- provide opportunities to apply knowledge and understanding in practical contexts;
- build on prior skills and knowledge to prepare students for the next stage in their learning;
- provide opportunities for developing confidence in creative expression.
Every scheme of work includes the development of practical skills in either performance or composition, in addition to the development of knowledge and understanding of music of different historical styles, genres and cultures.
Students initially develop their knowledge and understanding of the elements. This is vital to their success in this subject as these elements are the building block of every style and genre of music and this knowledge will be used throughout the rest of their school careers. They apply this knowledge initially to a topic on vocal music, in which they also focus on developing their vocal technique. The first topic is a cross-curricular scheme in conjunction with drama and is around musical theatre. Students in year 7 learn the ensemble parts for the school production and are invited to take on roles and participate in the performances that take place just before the winter break.
During the spring term, students learn about instruments of the orchestra. They develop an understanding of the roles and sounds of each instrument and learn to identify these in pieces of music. They also develop keyboard skills and learn to play as part of a group. As part of this topic, students are given the opportunity to attend a live orchestra performance, usually at one of the concert halls in Nottingham or Derby. This project also gives the students the opportunity to complete the Explore Arts Award.
During the summer term, students complete two schemes of work. The first focuses on Baroque music and keyboard skills. Students develop their knowledge and understanding of pitch notation and the Baroque style of music, and then further develop their keyboard skills, however in this unit there is more of a focus on composition. The final scheme of work for the summer term is based on learning about rhythm notation through exploring African drumming. They use djembes to develop their ability to read, write and perform rhythmic parts.
The year begins with a scheme of work around minimalism. In this topic students builds on their understanding of pitch and rhythm notation established in year 7 but allows them to apply this to different styles and contexts. They use a variety of instruments in this topic to develop composition skills. In the second half of the autumn term, students complete a scheme of work on Classical music with a focus on developing their knowledge and understanding of the historical context, musical features of the style, as well as classical structures. They then apply this in a practical context through performance work, again building on the skills first established in Year 7.
In the spring term, students explore the use of hooks and riffs in both classical and contemporary music. They develop their understanding of how these are used in a variety of styles and genres and then perform and create their own. In the second part of the spring term, the scheme of work focuses on blues and jazz. In this, students learn about the historical context of the styles and musical features, developing their understanding and skill throughout the remainder of the half term. In both of these topics students develop vocal and instrumental skill, specifically on the ukulele and keyboards.
In the final term of Year 8, students develop their knowledge of computer and video game music, and are again given an opportunity to see a concert live. Students will be given the opportunity to explore the use of music technology throughout this unit, sequencing their own music for a computer game. This project also gives the students the opportunity to complete the Bronze Arts Award.
During the first term, students will explore the use of music in film. They develop an understanding of how the musical elements are combined to create both theme and incidental music, performing some seminal themes from the genre. They are also given an opportunity to compose their own themes.
In the spring term, the focus shifts to exploring Samba music. In this scheme of work, students will build on their knowledge of rhythm established in Years 7 and 8, however in this topic the focus is on this Latin American style. Students use a variety of Latin American instruments as a group to develop performance and ensemble skills.
The final topic in Year 9 encourages students to write their own pop and rock songs. Students initially explore the features of these styles before then being given freedom in groups to compose and perform their own songs in groups.
Key Stage 4
At KS4 students complete the Eduqas GCSE in Music. There are three components to this course.
Component 1 is an internally assessed performance. Students are required to record performances in an ensemble and as a soloist which demonstrate their ability on their chosen instrument. Their recordings are required to be between four and six minutes long. This component is worth 30% of the overall qualification.
Component 2 is also internally assessed and involves students composing two pieces of music, one of these is based on a brief provided by the exam board. This component is also worth 30% of the overall qualification.
Component 3 is an externally assessed listening and appraising exam which takes place in the summer of Year 11. In the exam, students will be expected to understand and aurally identify features of music linked to the following areas of study: musical forms and devices; music for ensemble; film music; and popular music. This is worth 40% of the overall qualification.
In Year 10, students initially focus on recapping the elements of music, developing their understanding and use of vocabulary required for the GCSE. They then go on to study musical forms and devices, developing knowledge of the structures and devices used in the music of the Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras. In the spring term students build on their understanding of music from these eras through learning about ensembles used in each. They also study musical theatre and jazz music. Also in this term they explore the use of music in film. In the summer term students will learn about popular music, which includes rock, pop and fusion music. For each area of study, students will develop their knowledge and understanding and listen to a variety of music in each relevant style and genre. They will also complete performance tasks utilising their specialist instrument and also compose short pieces of music linked to each style. For each topic, students will be assessed through completing a listening test, doing a short performance and submitting their composition.
Year 11 is mainly focussed on consolidation of knowledge and skills from year 10 as well as completing coursework. Students initially explore the composition briefs which are released by the exam board on the 1st September every year. They choose one of the briefs to complete one of their compositions based on. Alongside this, students will rehearse for their performance. At Christmas they will submit their first composition and record their first performance, both of which will form part of their final assessment. In the spring term, students then complete their second composition and second performance. This composition is a free composition and so students have complete autonomy over the choice of style and genre, although this is guided by staff. These second pieces of coursework are submitted and recorded by Easter. In the first part of the summer term, lessons are devoted to revision and exam practice in preparation for the listening exam.