Subject/Curriculum:MUSICThe Music department has a good reputation within the school and produces good exam results both at GCSE and A level.  There are currently two teachers in the department – Mrs K Swales (Head of Music) and Miss E Weston who works part-time.

In addition there are 11 visiting instrumental teachers.  We currently have roughly 130 pupils having lessons in school in addition to the others who take lessons privately.  All pupils receive individual lessons which last 20 – 40 minutes and rotate throughout the school day.  We offer lessons in all the woodwind, brass, strings, drum-kit, singing, piano and keyboard.  Pupils are also encouraged to take part in extra-curricular activities to reinforce the excellent work of the instrumental teachers.

We have 2 music classrooms, a technology studio and 2 practice rooms for the instrumental teachers to use.  The department currently also has 16 networked computers each with Sibelius 5 on them and other music software such as Cubase, Dance E-jay,  Auralia and Musition CD Roms.

Career opportunities

Many of the students who have taken A level music have gone on to study Music at University and Conservatoires.  Over the past few years we have had pupils accepted at Oxford, Royal Northern College of Music, Birmingham Conservatoire, Leeds University, Manchester University and we are hoping that 2 of our pupils will be accepted at the Royal Northern College of Music this year.

We have contacts at the RNCM and with other schools in the area as well as with the Kings Normandy Military Band who regularly come into school to give workshops.


Curriculum Content:Key Stage 3Pupils in years 7, 8 and 9 receive 1 hour per week.

Our aim in Key stage 3 is for the pupils to gain a knowledge of a variety of different styles from different countries and cultural backgrounds through practical opportunities – composing and performing, and to develop an understanding of music through listening and research.

We cover the following topic areas in Years 7, 8 and 9

Year 7                                                                   Year 8                                                                   Year 9  

Intro and Elements of Music                       Structure and Form                                         Reggae

Instruments of the Orchestra                     Ostinato, Canon and Sequence                 Pop Music

Pulsation and Time Keeping                        Sounds and Textures                                     Minimalism

Traditional Music of the British Isles         Indian and Gamelan Music                          Variations

African Drumming                                           Developing performing skills                       Film Music

Mystery and Imagination                             Blues and Chords                                             Music Tech


Key Stage 4

Exam statistics

2011 – 100% A* – C, 58% A* – A

2012 – 100% A* – C, 63% A* – A

2013 – 100% A* – D, 75% A* – A


We currently have 1 good size class in years 10 and 11 which is taught by both members of the department.   We follow the Edexcel specification and have produced very good results over the years through working very closely with pupils on an individual basis.

The exam results for the past few years are as follows:

The Edexcel GCSE course has a focus on the 3 main areas – Performance, Composition and Listening but the focus for the listening will be on set works.

Unit 1 Performance        30%

Pupils must perform 1 solo and 1 ensemble piece

Unit 2 Composition        30%

Pupils will write 2 contrasting compositions based on 2 areas of study

Unit 3 Listening                40%

Pupils are assessed on 4 areas of study Western Classical Music 1600 – 1899

Music in the 20th Century

Popular Music in Context

World Music


Key Stage 5

2011 – AS 100% A, A2 100% A – C

2012 – AS 100% A – B, A2 100% A

2013 – AS 100% A – B, A2 100% A – B


Unit 1 Performance 30%

Students perform a 6 – 7 minute mini recital of 2/3 contrasting pieces or 1 long work to grade 5 standard.  The programme can include solo and ensemble pieces but must be recorded concurrently.  Each piece is marked out of 40 and is assessed on the following:

Outcome – 8

Pitch and rhythm – 8

Fluency and tempo – 8

Tone and technique – 8

Phrasing, articulation and dynamics – 8

Total – 40

Students need to have the music notated and an accompanist must be used where there needs one.  The recordings can take place any time up to April.


Unit 2 Composition 30%

Students produce a 3 minute composition with 15 hours of supervised time. This does not include teaching techniques and planning time.  At the end of the course a sleeve note accompanies the work and is completed in a hour of supervised time.  Notes are allowed to be taken into the exam.

Students have a choice of briefs, which are set by the exam board in September and include the following:

1              Composing expressively – music which tells a story or conveys pictures

2              Variations – Ground bass, passacaglia or chaconne

3              Words and music – vocal music from madrigals to pop songs

4              Text, context and texture – opera, jazz, scat to sprechgesang

Assessment is based on coherence, use of instruments and techniques, development of ideas, harmony, structure, texture etc and receives a mark out of 60.  The composition is submitted at the end of April for moderation.

 Unit 3 Developing Musical Understanding

Students complete a 2 hour listening and written exam combined.  This is split into 3 parts A, B and C.

Students will study a set of focus works covering 2 areas of study:

Area of study 1 – Instrumental music – music from the western classical tradition and this includes an orchestral work.

Area of study 2 – Vocal Music – western songs and other styles

Part A lasts approximately 25 minutes and consists of listening to the CD and answering questions on the skeleton score, discussing compositional techniques used and identifying musical features based on the focus works.

Part B lasts approximately 45 minutes and students extend their knowledge of the set works by comparing and contrasting features.  These could include resources, form, texture, harmony, melody, rhythm, and metre.

Part C lasts approximately 45 minutes and consists of 2 questions.  Students have to analyse a series of chords and then add appropriate chords to a given melody and include cadences.

This exam takes place much later in June than Units 1 and 2 and gives students a real chance to concentrate and focus when the 60% coursework is completed.

The A level course is an excellent choice for students who wish to either further their musical development, to use as an intended career / university subject or simply to add variety to other A level subjects.  Students develop skills in communication, problem solving and working with others.  Extra-curricular activities enhance the classroom based work including trips to workshops and concerts.  Opportunities to use music technology are also available.


Extra-Curricular Trips and Visits:The department puts on regular concerts in School and organises trips throughout the year to the theatre and to Classical music concerts as well as having workshops in school.Year 7 go to the Halle Orchestra each year.

In the past few years visits have included trips to see Starlight Express and Glyndbourne Touring Opera in venues such as the Lowry Theatre.

The music department has in the past taken part in Music for Youth and the choir were fortunate to go to the finals in London.  There was a trip to Holland and in 2006 the Chamber Choir won their first competition to perform at the Lowry with Opera North.  In addition to other competitions and concerts, the Chamber Choir won first place at the Heaton Mersey Music Festival in 2014.



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(Years 9 – 13)





(Years 7 – 8)


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Quotes: Taken from the Times Newspaper“Research shows that music can increase a child`s IQ”“The best thing you can do in 2014 is join a Choir and raise your voice “

“The creative importance of music in schools improves concentration, teamwork, intellectual stamina and emotional development”

“Music lessons make a child a better listener”

“Music training can halt deafness!”

“A National plan is useless if schools don`t teach music”

“Music lessons are good for the memory”

Quotes: from Students in year 7

“Music lessons are fun”

“We get to play on the keyboards!”

“The teachers are helpful”

“I have never done any music before so its a new subject for me”

“I like singing in the Choir”

Any other:Manchester is the home to many great orchestras and concert venues and theatres such as the Bridgewater Hall, Lowry Theatre, Media City and the RNCM.  There are always student tickets and discounts available to attend concerts.

The local area also has a number of choirs, windbands and theatre groups open to children and adults of all ages to get involved with.