Music is a universal language that embodies one of the highest forms of creativity. A high quality music education should engage and inspire students to develop a love of music and their talent as musicians, and so increase their self-confidence, creativity and sense of achievement. As students progress, they should develop a critical engagement with music, allowing them to compose, and to listen with discrimination to the best in the musical canon. Students will:
- perform, listen to, review and evaluate music across a range of historical periods, genres, styles and traditions, including the works of the great composers and musicians;
- learn to sing and to use their voices, to create and compose music on their own and with others, have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument, use technology appropriately and have the opportunity to progress to the next level of musical excellence;
- understand and explore how music is created, produced and communicated, including through the inter-related dimensions: pitch, duration, dynamics, tempo, timbre, texture, structure and appropriate musical notations.
In Year 7 students address these concepts and learn skills through a transition unit, which bridges the gap from KS2 to KS3. In this unit they learn how to compose music for a specific mood by layering ostinati and exploring all the timbres of an electronic keyboard. Next they journey through experimental music, stopping off at minimalism, aleatoric music and extended instrumental and vocal techniques. The next 2 units focus on performance skills and students can choose the instrument or voice that they wish to specialise in. Finally we look at film music by studying the theme music to Star Wars. Year 7 students learn about singing, how to play the keyboard, the ukulele and have opportunities to play guitar, drums and bass.
In Year 8 students build on these skills and study the culture of hip hop and rap. Then they move on to learn how 4 chord pop songs are composed and performed. In this unit, students work in bands to refine and develop their ensemble, composition and performance skills. Students compose and perform their own song using all the skills and knowledge they have acquired so far. They also get chance to enter the Kirklees ‘Battle of the Bands’ composition.
In Year 9 students study the musical features of the Baroque Period and how modern composers and song writers still use these techniques today. Then we go right back to the beginning of popular music with the Blues, on to Reggae and then Dance music. All these styles are taught in a practical way using instruments and technology. We use Mixcraft software to learn about midi-editing and sequencing and how dance tracks are composed.
Students are encouraged to use any instruments they play in lessons and we have an array of school instruments that students may borrow, for a lesson or for longer periods.
Students work predominantly in ever-changing, predetermined, mixed ability groups. The large classrooms and 6 practice rooms mean that each group will regularly get their own space to work in. This helps them make faster progress and refine their musical skills to a higher level.
There is a wealth of extra-curricular musical activities happening each week including: rock schools, choirs, Jazz band, orchestra and informal lunchtime practice.
EDEXCEL GCSE Music
Unit 1 – Performing Music
- One solo performance
- One ensemble performance
Overview of assessment
Recordings of both solo and ensemble performances (on CD/MD/MP3)
Scores, professional recordings or written commentary (for Realisation) for both performances
In lessons students have the opportunity to refine their solo and ensemble skills and also to learn by watching others perform. They showcase their talents in a wide variety of concerts and performances, (both in the Academy and outside throughout the course), visiting peripatetic staff, along with the MFG staff, provide specialised expert tuition on all instruments, in the form of one to one sessions and group interventions. Students also get 10 hours to record each of their performances and this is done in or outside the Academy during year 11.
Unit 2 – Composing Music
- Two compositions, or
- Two arrangements, or
- One composition and one arrangement
Composition assessment criteria
- Teachers must mark students’ compositions using the three assessment criteria grids on the following pages to give a mark out of 30.
- These criteria have been developed to assess students’ skills in developing musical ideas, demonstrating technical control and composing with musical coherence. They are to be used to assess both the Pearson set brief and free composition.
- Where the word ‘instrument’ is mentioned this includes voice.
- For the composition being assessed, teachers should use their professional judgement to establish in which level of quality the music composed is.
- The compositions are equally weighted and will be marked equally, even if the two compositions are of significantly different lengths.
- Teachers should mark the performance against each grid in order to get a total mark out of 30 for each composition (Pearson set brief and free composition). The totals from each composition piece should be added together to give the total marks for this component out of 60.
Composing is taught in a practical way and students learn about the skill of composing in a variety of styles before starting on their actual compositions. They have the opportunity to use music technology and a variety of software to compose with. They have 10 hours to complete the writing of each piece, record it and produce appropriate notation.
Unit 3 – Music – Listening and Appraising
Knowledge and study of set works in the Areas of Study
- This is an externally set and assessed examination
- First assessment: May/June 2018.
- This component consists of 80 marks.
- The assessment is 1 hour and 45 minutes.
- The assessment consists of nine questions.
- Students must answer all questions.
- The paper will include multiple-choice, short open, and extended writing questions.
- There are two sections in the examination:
Section A: 68 marks
Section B: 12 marks
- The extracts of the pieces of music will be played on CD to all students taking the examination paper.
In this unit students study 12 set works ranging from Baroque music to club dance music to African music. We approach the various styles from a practical angle using authentic instruments where possible, thus acquiring the necessary knowledge and understanding whilst building performance skills. We also teach revision skills and examination technique to give our students the best possible chance in the examination.
Throughout the two years we aim to provide a broad understanding of music to allow our students to go on to study music at a higher level; either A-Level Music or Music Technology or A-Level 3 BTEC in Music.