Curriculum Leader - Music:

Mrs Natalie McFarlane


Music Department

The Music Department Team consists of a full time and part time member of staff and four peripatetic members of staff who are all committed to the success and enrichment of the pupils they teach. The department maintains a friendly and open atmosphere whilst adhering to the high standards of professionalism required for delivery of this subject.

The department ethos is built around the belief that the study of Music prepares young people for life in both an emotional and artistic world. It does this by teaching the subject through practically based topics throughout all Key stages. GCSE Music (Edexcel and as of 2016 Wjec Educas) is taught from Year 9 and 10 and classes are traditionally in numbers of approximately 14. Level 1/2 BTEC Music Award is taught to year 9 and 10 also and is the equivalent of 1 GCSE. Pupils learn about the music industry, composition, performance and how to organise and run a concert. Level 3 BTEC Music Performance (A level equivalent) is on offer for 6th form and there is a Music Consortium operating into Year 13 for A Level at Newlands Girls School. We endeavour to stimulate the intellectual and creative abilities as well as developing the personal qualities of each pupil.

A healthy calendar of events support the excellent extra-curricular work of the department including the Christmas Concert, KS4 and 5 showcase Concerts at Easter and Star Factor in July. Music clubs are on offer before school and afterschool dependent on the timetable; these include choir, steel pan club, jazz band and guitar group. We also have the Arts Award qualification on offer afterschool to earn a qualification in music from year 7.

A team of four instrumental teachers visit the department throughout the week providing guitar, keyboard, drums and saxophone lessons for pupils. The department is housed in a purpose built music suite, opened by Laurie Holloway a few years ago, and consists of six practice rooms, recording studio, ensemble room, music computer room and a large teaching room suitable for informal concerts, rehearsals and class teaching.

At Key Stage 3 all pupils follow a varied scheme of work based around the National Curriculum for Music and are given the opportunity to work with a range of classroom instruments, electronic keyboards and music computer programmes.

Curriculum Area:


Curriculum Leader:

Mrs NatalieMcFarlane

GCSE Music

What are the areas I will study?

Content: There are three parts to Music at GCSE; performing, composing and listening/appraising.

What activities will I take part in?

Performing: 30% (coursework)

15% for one solo performance and 15% for one ensemble performance (alternatively, there are music technology options). Pupils work together in ensembles and individually as soloists to develop key skills in performing, raise levels of attainment and develop confidence as musicians and people. It does not matter what instruments pupils play as each performance is marked using the same criteria, and any combination of instruments/voices can be catered for at GCSE level. Remember that singing counts as an instrument too! This element is assessed internally and moderated externally.

Composing 30%: (coursework)

Using either conventional notation software (Sibelius), or other musical notation, pupils are required to submit two compositions and recordings (it is not a requirement that pupils perform their own compositions) linked to two of the different Areas of Study (shown below). Pupils will have opportunities to research material relevant to the style they choose to compose in and experiment with compositions; however, the final score / commentary must be completed in the classroom under teacher supervision. The maximum time allowed for each supervised composition is 10 hours. This element is also assessed internally and moderated externally.

Listening and Appraising 40% (1.5 hour exam)

For this element of the exam, pupils develop their listening and appraising skills through the study of music across a variety of styles and genres. The content for this element is grouped into different genres and areas of musical study some of which contain set works that pupils study in depth. This element is assessed by a formal written exam at the end of the course..

What knowledge, understanding, skills and values will I develop?

As with all GCSE examinations, Music involves a lot of hard work. In order to achieve the best possible grades, pupils need to be committed and be prepared to take the initiative in personal practice and other work outside of the classroom. Pupils are encouraged to participate in appropriate extra-curricular activities, both during lunchtimes and/or after school, and lead by example for the younger pupils in school.

Future opportunities

Music GCSE leads on naturally to A level, BTEC or GNVQ courses in Music and/or Music Technology. It also opens many doors to non-specialised courses – having a qualification in Music shows that you are imaginative, sociable, can work in a team, be creative and are able to show commitment to a task or team.

More course information

BTEC Level 3

BTEC Level 2


Who do I see for more information?

Mrs McFarlane or Mrs Redman are always available for any questions or concerns which you may have