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Subject Leader: Dr J Watson

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Music gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.


Subject overview

Music fills our lives. Whether we listen on our way from here to there, or as we work, or as our wake-up call in the morning, music threads its way into every corner of life. Studying music is both about learning to make music, but also about understanding one of the most powerful creations in human history, and how it surrounds and affects us. As a great music teacher once said, “It is a race that is only won when everyone crosses the finish line at the same time.” The ability to cooperate, to support, to empathise and encourage - these are the human skills that music teaches. It contains every other discipline, from maths to physics to literature to design to history.
Music truly has something for everyone.

Year 7

In Year 7, music covers a broad range of topics, designed to introduce students to the basic concepts of music, from solo and ensemble performance to instrumental techniques and listening. We will explore many different genres, times and places. Lessons are practice-based, to emphasise that music is a doing thing, that actual music is sound being organised and made by people.

Year 8

Year 8 is a deeper dive into the ideas started in Year 7. Students will develop a range of music vocabulary, so that they can explain what they’re playing and hearing in greater depth. More complicated concepts are tackled, such as melodies that use notes outside the normal scale. We look at more sophisticated performance skills, like how to create emotion while playing. Again, it is primarily a practical subject. Yes, we listen. Yes, we begin to analyse. But mainly, we play.

Year 9

Year 9 develops with greater interweaving of written analysis and peer discussion. These are skills that are vital to further work in music, but will also be useful in other subjects that students might choose to pursue. There is more emphasis on what role music plays in the world around us, how music manipulates our emotions in films and advertising, as well as how the business of music has changed, and is changing.

Year 10, Year 11

We are excited to be doing Rock School at Key Stage 4. Students can opt to pursue a Performance or Technology path through the course. There is no written exam for this course, allowing students to focus on their practical strengths. Regardless of path, everyone will do the Musical Knowledge Unit, which explores the elements and history of modern popular music, from rock 'n roll to the present. Performers will study performance and rehearsal techniques, while Technicians will be studying music recording and sequencing, the two primary skills used by all professional producers and audio engineers today.

Students will need to work collaboratively with other students, and be highly self-motivated as they increasingly pursue the course in a way that is best suited to their own interests and abilities. Private lessons will be available through peripatetic teachers at the school, and technicians will be able to access our recording suite, Swanstree Studios.

While the primary focus is on practical skills, it is important to recognise that students will need to document their progress, either through written or video evidence. This will not only support students in their musical pursuits, but also develop effective communication skills, which will help in other subjects, as well as future employment pursuits.

The course includes creating and producing music events, some of which will be open to the public. Students will be expected to take on more and more responsibility for their learning through the course, as preparation for the kind of self-direction and independence needed by modern musicians.

As the course progresses students are put into increasingly professional situations.The music industry requires more and more diverse skills from musicians, and we gear the course towards that end


Sixth Form

For Level 3 Rock School, the goal is simple: to get students working like professionals. Students will again choose between a Performance or Technical route through the course, and working in collaborative teams, everyone will get a well rounded understanding of what it is to produce music in the 21st century. Performers will study some of the technological aspects of music, such as sequencing to create music on computers, while technicians will produce music videos, ensuring that they understand how important the visual elements of performance are.

By the end of the course, students will not only have a good understanding of the diverse ways in which music is produced nowadays, but will also have a portfolio of high quality work, should they opt to pursue Higher Education, or launch their careers in any of the modern platforms, from traditional recording, to engaging a social media audience, to producing for clients.