Music

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Welcome To King Edward VI Music Department

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, and life to everything.” Plato 

Curriculum Intent

We offer a well-resourced, supportive and enthusiastic music department. We are a bustling department and hive of activity both within curriculum lessons and through extra-curricular offerings. Whilst delivering music to all students up to the end of Year 9, we also deliver over 230 instrumental lessons a week and facilitate 14 different groups/ensembles at lunchtimes and after school. We are committed to supporting our students/musicians in making strong progress at all levels and nurturing a genuine desire to succeed. Whilst providing a wide range of high-quality musical experiences both inside and outside of the classroom, students also nurture creativity, entrepreneurship, independence and confidence in pursuing new ventures. Covering the full range of composition, performance and analysing a broad range of music, we nurture students in their own technical proficiency, whilst encouraging a curiosity to discover new concepts and approaches to their work. 

Our curriculum is separated into four broad areas: Developing instrumental proficiency, creating new music, finding inspiration in other music and challenging our own preconceptions. The ability levels and speed of progression of our students is wide ranging with some having had very little interaction with music at primary school, whilst others are studying at a Grade 5 instrumental level (beyond the instrumental level expected at GCSE). We therefore introduce additional layers of scaffolding and opportunities for high-achieving musicians. At KS3, between 10% – 20% of KS3 go on to study GCSE music. This means the curriculum is tailored to remain appropriate and meaningful to those who will not study music further, whilst also challenging for those who will. Beyond this, our students gradually refine their own creative approach and specialise in their preferred pathway. Our courses aim to facilitate this journey and provide the high possible standard of education to our learners, equipping them for the next stage in their journey.  

Music at KS3 

Topic Choices 

Our topics are designed to nurture all three musical pathways alongside one another (performance, composition and appraising music). By interlinking these areas, students can allow these aspects of music to inform one another, rather than be applied in isolation.  

All our projects provide opportunities to: 

Develop instrumental proficiency  Create new music  Identify inspiration in the music we listen to  Explore unfamiliar music to challenge preconceptions 
An introduction and development on a range of instruments and music technology, and the development of technical proficiency 

 

Application of learned concepts alongside new ideas to develop new music 

 

Increased musical awareness through analysing musical development in further detail and expressing views coherently 

 

Exploration of different styles of music, that serve to inspire higher levels of music making and broaden awareness of music that will have a significant impact on our learners. 

Instruments, Music Technology and Developing Technical Proficiency 

Topics and content are sequenced to build proficiency, whilst also providing a range of experiences. We have different categories of project with regard to instrumental development: 

Instrument/skill focus, instrument/skill assessment  Instrument/skill is the same as the assessment focus. Whilst an instrument is self-explanatory, a skill is used to define the development of skills relevant to music e.g. music technology  This enables students to focus on an instrument or skill for an entire term and acquire the skills required to build resilience, practice technique and receive a more focused guidance within lessons. 
Instrument focus, band assessment  An instrument that students have not yet learned will be given the focus for the first part of the project, so that students are equipped with the skills needed if they wish to continue on that instrument. We then give the students the option to choose from a list of instruments for their band assessment including both the new instrument and those that they have covered in previous topics. Each instrument has guided resources and assessment criteria so that students know how to succeed and are appropriately assessed alongside their peers.  This enables students to focus on an instrument across projects in order to further their development, whilst developing awareness and skills on new instruments. 
Band focus, band assessment:  Students are allowed to choose the instrument from the beginning of the project, enabling them to develop their part more quickly and more extensively develop their band skills and work. Usually this will be a defined piece of music with a list of instruments to choose from so that each instrument has guided resources and assessment criteria to enable students know how to succeed and are appropriately assessed alongside their peers.  This enables students to develop understanding of how to build a band performance, including the sourcing of music/parts.  

 

Creating Music 

Students are regularly given the opportunity to include compositional elements in all projects. There are also dedicated projects to help students develop the skill of creating music and covering new compositional concepts. Projects such as Scary Music are built around teaching core compositional concepts that will provide inspiration and skills to achieve success in this topic. They are then required to apply them in their own way. In other cases, students might be learning a performance piece but guidance is given to how they might adapt it through including improvisation or introducing their own elements – this is very much encouraged in order that students are not only mastering techniques but also adapting/creating their own interpretation. As technology continues to be an important force in film, producing and writing music, we are introducing more topics centred around how students can capture and develop their ideas with the aid of software.  

 Exploring different styles of music and raising awareness 

All topics include learning about the context, history and techniques of a style of music or particular piece of music that enables them to develop both instrumental and performance skills. Across the curriculum, our aim is to cover a broad range of music and composers so that students can be better informed about the music they make, create and listen to. Students are introduced to tier 3 musical vocabulary from year 7 so that they can broaden their understanding, interpretation and communication regarding what the music is doing. We have developed our own departmental approach (DR PATT SMITH’S Elements of music) alongside specific strategies for covering more general tier 2 words so that students are able to understand what is being asked of them at GCSE. This is further emphasised by the use of badges within the department, which actively encourages students to use musical words as their everyday musical conversation and responses in the classroom.  

 Assessment at KS3 

Not all learners understand what progress in music looks and feels like. Topics are broken down to explicitly outline each step through our achievements and badges so that students understand their next steps and what success looks like.  

Achievements 

Achievements break down the bigger learning journey into smaller individual steps in their learning. An achievement can encapsulate a micro-skill that has been obtained (e.g. strumming pattern or applying a particular compositional device) or knowledge that has been learned/recalled (contextual knowledge of a style of music). The achievements tie in with sequence of lessons, so that lesson learning objectives are tied in with achievements. Achievements are filled in by the students themselves so that they can take ownership of them whilst being guided carefully through criteria that have to be hit to be awarded them. Students are then able to visually see their own progress as a learning journey, develop independence and also break down the concepts that they can potentially reapply in other areas of the course.  

 Badges 

Vocabulary: Students are required to know a wide range of vocabulary at GCSE in response to what they hear in the music, so we aim to embed this from Year 7. A badge can be awarded to a student whenever they use a musical word appropriately when responding to an open question in the lesson or through their written responses in listening work.  

Performance: Badges can be used to promote the use of techniques that are often forgotten or seem too small to be important e.g. students counting in properly at the beginning of a performance dramatically increases the likelihood of ensemble success. These are considered quick wins and again can be awarded while students are rehearsing to highlight positive steps towards success.  

Trophies 

Trophies are awarded when a student demonstrates a particular streak of strong performance in any area of the topic, through a certain number of badges achieved or a number of achievements.  

Music at KS4 

We deliver the Eduqas GCSE in Music. We have students displaying a wide range of skills and abilities and our aim is to stretch and challenge all students. In order to further assist students in their progress, we offer to cover the cost of instrumental lessons if they are taken in school, which is particularly helpful for students that may have seen their interest grown in later years.  

Students pursue three main areas of study: 

  • Composition: Students write two compositions across the two years; one is a free composition and can be in any style and another is responding to a chosen brief, which again can be in a range of skills. As a part of this, student extensively learn how to use their instrument to compose, how to use music technology to best present their ideas, whether that be notation software (Sibelius) or studio production software (Cubase) 
  • Performance: Students are expected to perform for a minimum of 4 minutes in both a Solo and Ensemble performance. Students are given multiple attempts at this in order to capture their best work.  
  • Listening and Appraising: Students study in detail a range of styles of music from across history. They are taught to communicate clearly their observations using a broad range of musical vocabulary in both short and long answer form. 

Within the GCSE, we take the opportunity to further emphasise the importance of how performance, composition and listening are all interlinked and together form the whole musician. We are still very much focused on ensuring students understand the many ways that music can play a part in their lives, whether that be to pursue as an eventual professional interest or a subject/skill they are passionate about and will benefit them in many ways. The skills developed remain the same but students are expected to be able to explore and demonstrate a higher level of outcomes.  

Music and Music Technology KS5 

As we enter our KS5 curriculum, we offer students the opportunity to further specialise in their chosen approaches to music and allow music to provide benefits to a wide range of pathways.  

A Level Music 

We currently deliver the Edexcel A Level in Music. The blend of both academic and creative skills within A Level music provides an incredibly attractive qualification for universities regardless of whether students are aiming to continue music at university/conservatoires/colleges or they wish to demonstrate their aptitude for innovation and creativity toward subjects such as Maths, Sciences, Engineering, Marketing, Business to name but a few. We currently find that a good mix of our students go on to study both music and related courses at prestigious institutions.  

Within the course, students pursue three main areas of study: 

  • Composition: Students write two compositions across the two years; one is a free composition and can be in any style and another is a technical composition. We currently teach all students to create a Bach Chorale as we have identified that the techniques involved with this has the greatest impact towards improving student composition and their understanding of how music is made. 
  • Performance: Students are expected to perform for a minimum of 8 minutes in a recital of their choice and are assisted in their preparation across the two years.
  • Listening and Appraising: Students study in detail a range of styles of music from across history. They are taught to communicate clearly their observations using a broad range of musical vocabulary in both short and long answer form. 

A Level Music Technology 

We currently deliver the Edexcel A Level in Music Technology and this has been a new addition to the department. Increasingly, Music Technology and its uses have become popular amongst our students and our aim to equip students in the broad range of skills they need in order to record and produce music both in a studio and home studio setting. Our Music Technology course and additional opportunities outside of the course (Music Technology club and School Events Team), provides a broad range of experiences that readies students to either continue studying Music Technology at University, apply for apprenticeships or use the skills to enhance their work in a range of other career paths including media, marketing, business, acoustical engineering to name but a few. 

Students pursue three main areas of study: 

  • Recording and Producing Music: In this topic, students are taught all aspects of using recording software, equipment and microphones in order to best capture a broad range of instruments and styles of music to mix and produce music within a studio setting.  
  • Creative composition: Students are introduced to all aspects of synthesis and music creation in order to provide a creative and technical response to a chosen brief. 
  • Listening and analysing: Students are assessed on their technical and theoretical knowledge in an exam paper, alongside identifying a range of production techniques throughout history from extracts of music.  

 

Teaching Staff

Mr. S. Willey Miss S. Winch Mr A. Goodhead Mrs M. Jennings
Head of Music Teacher of Music Assistant Headteacher Achievement Leader/Teacher of Music

Extra-Curricular

The school’s extra-curricular provision is diverse and exciting. There are over 200 students involved in the extra-curricular music activities listed below:

School Orchestra (all levels welcome) Jazz Band (grade 3+) Junior Choir (yr 7-9) Senior Choir
Fuse Band (parts written for students of all levels) Flute Choir Uptown Folk (All instruments welcome) Percussion Ensemble
Barbieshop Chamber Choir Guitar Ensemble

Annual Events

School Dedication Day Service PTFA Christmas Fayre Annual Carol Service Lichfield Cathedral
School Production Spring Concert Summer Festival
Transition Singing Day Unplugged Series