Music is an essential part of our lives and we interact with it in many ways. It can stimulate our emotions, be a powerful form of communication, develop creativity and imagination, and improve our wellbeing. At Sir Graham Balfour, our aim is to provide opportunities for all students to participate in enjoyable music-making activities that enhance their existing skills and interests, and introduce them to new genres, instruments and concepts.
The curriculum in Years 7-9 focusses on the development of musical skills that can be applied to a range of topics in Key Stages 3 and 4, and that students can utilise in their own music activities and future careers. These skills are built around six strands that both interrelate and overlap:
- Singing – using the voice as an instrument including vocal sounds, rapping and beatboxing
- Composing – creating music in different styles for both instruments and music technology
- Improvising – experimenting with graphic notation and devising music based on scales
- Playing – performing on a range of instruments, individually and with other students
- Critical Engagement – listening to and appraising music, and reflecting and responding to their own and others’ music
- SMSC (Social, Moral, Spiritual & Cultural) – engaging with others in music-making, taking creative risks and developing a personal music identity.
The two qualifications at Key Stage 4 allow students to follow a more academic or vocational music pathway, based on their interests and future career aspirations.
Pearson Edexcel GCSE Level 1/Level 2 (9-1) in Music
During the two-year course, students complete work for three components:
Appraising (40% - exam)
Students listen to, describe and analyse a wide range of music, mostly based around four areas of study, each with two set works:
- Instrumental Music 1700 – 1820
- Vocal Music
- Music for Stage and Screen
- Fusions (World Music)
Performing (30% - coursework)
Each student receives a weekly instrumental or vocal lesson from a visiting teacher and develops their skills and techniques both in these lessons and in class topics. Students perform at least one solo piece and one ensemble piece to meet the coursework requirement in this component.
Composing (30% - coursework)
By exploring the range of styles and genres in the areas of study for the appraising component, students learn how to compose music for different purposes and occasions. For their coursework, they produce one free composition chosen by them, and one composed to a brief set by the exam board.
Pearson BTEC Level 1/Level 2 Award in Music
To achieve this qualification, students complete four units over the two-year course:
The Music Industry (25% - exam)
This unit provides students with a good understanding of the scope of the music industry including the job roles and organisations within it, how someone can gain employment and voluntary opportunities, and the ways in which events can be organised and promoted.
Managing a Music Product (25% - coursework)
Students work in small groups to plan, develop, promote, deliver and evaluate a music product. This can either be a live music event such as a concert or gig, or a recorded digital product such as a music video, podcast or music-based radio show.
Introducing Music Performance (25% - coursework)
Each student has a weekly instrumental or vocal lesson with a visiting teacher and works to develop a structured practice routine to develop their musical skills and techniques. They also rehearse and perform two contrasting pieces from any style of music.
Introducing Music Sequencing (25% - coursework)
Following on from the basic skills learnt in Key Stage 3, students use music technology software (Studio One) to learn how to use the more advanced tools and functions effectively to produce their own music to meet a compositional brief.
In Year 9, students have music lessons throughout the year and continue to develop their music skills in preparation for GCSE/BTEC courses and their own interests. Students learn about music from different parts of the world and cultures, and perform and compose their own music through singing and playing keyboard, guitar, ukulele and percussion instruments. Using music technology software, they explore how music is used in films and create their own film trailer music, experimenting with manipulating audio and MIDI instruments.
In Year 8, students have music lessons for one term as part of a rotation of subjects. Building on the skills from Year 7, students explore rap music creating their own group rap based on a theme, and further develop their performance skills by learning popular songs on keyboard, ukulele and/or guitar. Students are also introduced to music technology software to produce a radio advert that incorporates both a backing track and a voiceover.
In Year 7, students have music lessons for one term as part of a rotation of subjects. They experience a wide range of practical activities to develop their musical skills. These include being able to describe music using instrument names and the elements of music; playing percussion instruments and keyboards; and composing using graphic and written notation.