The Music Department is headed by Director of Music, Stephen Hussey, who has taught at the school for more than 30 years. The department is situated in the Clarendon Muse, our specialist and award-winning music centre, consisting of several classrooms, 24 sound-proofed practice rooms, a music technology suite and recording studio and a 200 seat auditorium.
The department consists of three classroom teachers and a team of peripatetic instrumental tutors, who teach a range of instrumental lessons. Students have the chance to take Associated Board Music Examinations, Trinity, Rock School and Trinity Rock and Pop. Students can enrol in our instrumental teaching programme working with one or more of our thirteen tutors to enhance their skills as players and singers. We also run a number of music ensembles including a Big Band, a Senior Orchestra, Senior Choir, Senior and Intermediate Wind Bands, an Intermediate Brass Ensemble, a Year 7 Orchestra and a number of chamber ensembles along with a pop workshop
Over two hundred students attend rehearsals and perform in the seven concerts that we hold each year. We have an Annual Music Competition judged by a visiting Adjudicator and our musicians have a chance to perform in Assemblies each week.
The Clarendon Muse offers outstanding specialist music facilities in a modern and purpose-built environment. The classrooms are equipped with keyboards and there are 43 computers which run the award winning Sibelius Ultimate software. The 24 sound-proofed rooms provide ample opportunity for small groups to rehearse. At other times these rooms are also available to students for private practice. The auditorium is equipped with a Steinway grand, there is a further upright Steinway in the block, a Yamaha C4 in the foyer, and students have the opportunity to use a harpsichord. The recording studio is equipped to a high standard with two Apple Mac computers linked to a recording desk to enable students to develop their skills in music production and recording.
Key Stage 3
The teaching of music at KS3 aims to engage and inspire pupils to develop both a love of music, and to make progress as performers and composers, and thereby increase their self-confidence, creativity and sense of achievement. The music curriculum gives students ample opportunity to work with the elements of music in their composing, performing, listening and appraising. The course covers a wide variety of music drawn from many different traditions, including music by the great composers. Each unit of work allows students to perform as soloists or in a classroom ensemble and to develop their instrumental and vocal skills with an emphasis on fluency, control and expression. Students are also taught how to use music notation and how to engage appropriately with music technology to enhance their compositional skills. Over the last two years, students have been learning about some of the great compositions through the BBC Ten Pieces series. Our intent is to build on the WBGS Learner Attributes that they encounter from the start of their journey with us, encouraging students to take the initiative in performance and to collaborate with others in small group activities. We aim to encourage them to think carefully about the effect different music has on us and to build a good level of resilience, especially in performing activities. Hopefully the implementation of our music curriculum will impact on students such that they continue to have a love of music for life.
The details below give a snapshot of each of the units of work.
UNIT 1 - RHYTHM, PULSE, FORM, METRE, STRUCTURE and SIMPLE NOTATIONS.
This unit of work is designed to engage the students as we work through the elements of music, starting with rhythm and pulse so that they gain confidence in a performing situation. A group rhythmic exercise helps to foster the skills of collaboration and resilience as well as developing a stronger feeling for a regular pulse, improvising and layering rhythms. From a group performance, students then move to play a freely- chosen solo piece to demonstrate control, technical skill and musical expression and ultimately enable music staff to plan for progression.
UNIT 2 – FANFARE AND THE ORCHESTRA.
In this unit students will aim to consolidate their rhythm work from the previous unit into rhythms that might be suitable for a Fanfare. The conversion of their chosen rhythm into a melodic Fanfare enables learning and understanding of staff notation for the first time and composing a simple melody using just four pitches. Students also encounter the keyboards and the music programme Sibelius for the final write-up. The unit also allows students to begin to explore the orchestra, enhanced by the rich tapestry of orchestral pieces found in the BBC Ten Pieces repertoire. We tackle the BBC Ten Pieces 2 in the first term and then the BBC Ten Pieces 3 after Christmas.
UNIT 3 - THE ELEMENTS-COMPLETING THE PICTURE
This unit aims to consolidate on knowledge gained from the first two units and to complete their understanding of these building blocks. Students are introduced to the graphic score through the Dawn Interlude by Benjamin Britten and this in turn leads to the creation of their own composition based on the ideas portrayed in this piece.
UNIT 4 - MELODY AND DRONE
In this unit students explore drones used in different musical cultures in order to create their first composition with accompaniment. Students learn about different scales for constructing their melodies and the role of improvising in performing. Links are made with music from the Medieval and Renaissance periods. The elements are consolidated and Sibelius is used to make a fair copy of their handwritten melody and drone work.
UNIT 5 – LATIN AMERICAN DANCE MUSIC
This unit offers opportunities to improve their performing skills through learning simple chord series and continuing to develop their improvisation skills in a different musical style. The idea of a musical fusion, a key component of the KS4 course is sown here.
UNIT 6 - EOY APPRAISING AND PERFORMING
In this unit of work, students are assessed on their acquisition of knowledge across the elements and the BBC Ten Pieces. They also demonstrate their development as musicians from their initial performance in Unit 1.
UNIT 7 - GROUND BASS STRUCTURES
This unit starts by focusing on the Baroque period and students are expected to prepare a presentation on the style of the music and important musicians from the early eighteenth century. The compositional and performing elements of the unit focus on developing melodic structures over a ground with links to Pachebel’s canon, whilst the listening attributes include a ground bass test on a work by Purcell. Students are able to build on all the skills developed in year 7, whilst opportunities exist for stretch and challenge for all.
UNIT 8 – THE BAROQUE CONCERTO
Following on from student presentations, this unit focuses on learning to perform a movement from the lute concerto by Vivaldi. Students can learn part of the ritornello, or indeed the whole of it whilst also attempting to improvise a simple episode using motifs taken from the ritornello. Stretch and challenge for all is the key again here, as well as giving our guitarists a chance to take up the challenge of the melody line.
UNIT 9 – MADNESS
Students continue the theme of presentations with a study of the pop group Madness, as well as learning the classic hit It must be love. The song provides the stimulus for a composition using notation software allowing for keyboard, bass, drum and melody parts to be sequenced and developed.
UNIT 10 – THE MUSICAL
This unit allows students to explore the Musical through an independent study of their favourite work. Performance elements are assessed through the study of Electricity from the musical Billy Elliott when students are challenged to prepare a performance of the song with expression and feeling.
UNIT 11 – JAPANESE MUSIC
This unit allows students to explore traditional Japanese music through music for the shakuhachi. Students are able to make comparisons between Western and Eastern musics, improvise in a different style and explore the koto and shamisen and sing the traditional song Sakura.
UNIT 12 – RONDO STRUCTURES
In this unit of study, students explore music in the Classical period through a study of Mozart. A composition and performing project on rondo consolidates reading skills, allows for developing a melody over a simple tonic-dominant chord series.
UNIT 13 – EOY APPRAISING AND PERFORMING
In this unit of work, just as in Unit 6, students are assessed on their acquisition of knowledge across the curriculum content. They also demonstrate their development as musicians in their performing assessment, which now allows for an ensemble performance, often chosen from one of the units of work in the year. It is at this point that students decide to further their studies in music leading to GCSE at the end of Year 11.
Key Stage 4
The teaching of Music at KS4 encourages students to be inspired by a variety of music from different cultures. The course aims to continue to develop skills in performing and composing learned from KS3 and generally to foster a love of making music individually and with others. It also aims to enhance broader life skills, including critical thinking, aesthetic sensitivity, emotional awareness, self-discipline, self-confidence and self-motivation. In Year 9, students study four topics, The Blues, Film Music, Popular Music and Minimalism and there are opportunities during the study of music in each of these areas to compose a piece of music, to perform as part of an ensemble and to appraise. For instance, in the unit on Film Music, students learn how to compose a scary soundtrack by combining the elements of music in a certain way, the students then perform some familiar James Bond music and then incorporate this music in a further sound track for the film Spectre.
In Year 10, the three main disciplines of the subject are combined in lessons to enable the study of eight set works covering four Areas of Study, Instrumental Music, Vocal Music, Music for Stage and Screen and Fusions. These works are: Bach’s 5th Brandenburg Concerto, Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata, Purcell’s Music for a While, Queen’s Killer Queen, Defying Gravity from Wicked, the Main Title from Star Wars Episode 4, Release by Afro Celt Sound System and Samba Em Preludio by Esparanza Spalding. For instance, students are encouraged to compose a set of variations over a ground when studying the Purcell score, to compose the Exposition of a sonata form movement when studying the Beethoven and to develop a pop song when studying the Queen extract. All of this builds on prior knowledge developed from KS3 study. The learning students undertake is tested in the following way to award them with a grade from 9-1 at GCSE;
- Performing as a soloist and as part of an ensemble for a minimum of 4 minutes.
- Composing one free composition and one set to a brief by the Examination Board lasting at least 3 minutes in total
- A listening and appraising examination based on the eight works and other unfamiliar music.
Key Stage 5
The teaching of Music at KS5 continues to develop performance skills and compositional techniques, along with a growing understanding of harmony, aural awareness and analytical confidence over a period of two years. The lessons aim to provide the appropriate preparation for higher education courses in music whilst simultaneously hoping to continue to foster a life-long appreciation of the subject.
The requirements of the Pearson Specification for A2 are as follows:
- A selection of solos lasting at least 8 minutes taken between March and May in the Upper Sixth.
- One free or brief –set composition and one technical exercise-the Bach chorale.
- A listening and appraising examination based on the study of the music of 13 composers in six Areas of Study as listed below. Students also need to have a good knowledge of other works in these categories by other composers. Students build up this knowledge through their own study as well as being part of our extra-curricular music programme where related works are performed.
● J. S. Bach, Cantata, Ein feste Burg, BWV 80: Movements 1, 2, 8
● Vaughan Williams, On Wenlock Edge: Nos. 1, 3 and 5 (On Wenlock
Edge, Is my team ploughing? and Bredon Hill)
● Clara Wieck-Schumann, Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 17: movement 1
● Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique: Movement I
Music for Film
● Danny Elfman, Batman Returns: Main theme (Birth of a Penguin Part
II), Birth of a Penguin Part I, Rise and fall from grace, and Batman vs
● Bernard Herrmann, Psycho: Prelude, The City, Marion, The Murder
(Shower Scene), The Toys, The Cellar, Discovery, Finale
Popular Music and Jazz
● Courtney Pine, Back in the Day: Inner state (of mind), Lady Day and
(John Coltrane), and Love and affection
● Kate Bush, Hounds of Love: Cloudbusting, And dream of sheep, and
● Beatles, Revolver: Eleanor Rigby, Here, there and everywhere, I want
to tell you, and Tomorrow never knows
● Debussy, Estampes: Nos. 1 and 2 (Pagodes and La soirée dans
● Anoushka Shankar, Breathing Under Water: Burn, Breathing Under
Water and Easy
● Kaija Saariaho, Petals for Violoncello and Live Electronics
● Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring: Introduction, The Augurs of Spring, and Ritual of Abduction
Exams & Assessment
Examination Board: Pearson Edexcel
Examination Board: Pearson Edexcel
Enrichment & Extra-curricular
The Music department host a wide range of extra-curricular, bands, orchestras and choirs, the details of which can be found here:
Music Extra-curricular timetable
Resources & Reading List
Key Stage 3
Click here for a link to the BBC Ten Pieces resource of all 40 pieces. (Year 7)
Click here for a link to Nicola Benedetti’s introduction to the Baroque period. (Year 8)
Key Stage 4
Click here for a link to piano styles in the blues. (Year 9)
Click here for the link to the GCSE Pearson Edexcel Music Specification (Year 10 and 11)
Key Stage 5
Click here for a link to the A level Pearson Edexcel Specification.
Click here for a link to the Difficulty Level Booklet for A Level.
Click here for a link to the Harmony resource for A Level.