Subject Leader: Mr E Caborn
Music is arguably one of the most expressive and creative subjects available on the National Curriculum. Therefore allowing pupils as many opportunities as possible to be creative and engage with music is at the heart of Queen Elizabeth's Music Department. There are a wide range of extracurricular opportunities for pupils to develop musically, from the Year 7 Ukelele and young singers, Soul and Funk band and Samba drumming, through to the String Orchestra and School Band, as well as much, much more. In addition to this, pupils are encouraged to set up and run groups themselves, allowing personal musical interests to be developed.
The department benefits from a number of well-equipped practice rooms, which are available for pupils to use at lunchtimes and afterschool, as well as a Music Technology room with PC's, supporting software such as Sibelius 7.
Key Stage 3
In Key Stage 3, the emphasis is on pupil's developing their musical creativity through the core activities of performing, composing, listening and improvising. Music is a practical subject, and as a result, the importance of practical music making is prominent in Key Stage 3 lessons. The majority of the schemes of work are influenced by the Musical Futures approach to teaching and learning music, in which project-based, practical group activities are stressed. However, pupils also have the opportunity to develop their theoretical knowledge, such as learning to understand notated music and using key vocabulary, which will give a grounding for the knowledge needed for Key Stage 4.
For more information on the Musical Futures approach, please visit their website:
Key Stage 4
At Queen Elizabeth's, we offer GCSE music for pupils who wish to continue to study music beyond Year 8. This course will allow pupils to develop their performance and compositional skills, as well as broadening their musical knowledge through the study of Music History and some set works. Currently, we run the AQA GCSE course, which is split into three core components:
- Understanding Music - over the two year course, pupils develop their contextual understanding of music, as well as developing critical thinking and listening skills. This section of the exam covers music history and music theory, and culminate in a 1hr 30min exam at the end of the course. This comprises of a listening section (listening to and answering questions on unfamiliar music), and a written section (writing about specific pieces that have been studied during the 2 years). This exam makes up 40% of the overall grade.
- Performing Music - pupils will have ample opportunity to perform during the GCSE course, both as a soloist and as part of ensembles. These performances will be recorded throughout the two years, and at the end of the course, one solo and one ensemble performance are submitted for assessment. As a result, pupils who select GCSE Music must be competent, or be in the process of learning an instrument or the voice, in order to be fully assessed. There is no minimum requirement for the performance section, and external exam grades are not necessary to select GCSE Music. However, pupils are awarded higher marks for playing more challenging pieces. This coursework element makes up 30% of the overall grade.
- Composing Music - the writing of music is also split into two elements; a composition to a set brief, and a free composition. The brief is released by the exam board, and will provide criteria or a theme for pupils to then compose from, such as music for film and tv, or music for a special occasion. The free composition allows pupils complete freedom in what they compose and how they compose. This section of the course is worked on and developed throughout the two years, and will help to develop pupils' knowledge of and use of Music Technology. This coursework element makes up 30% of the overall grade.
For more information, feel free to download a copy of the AQA GCSE Music specification:
Key Stage 5
The Queen Elizabeth's music department has now expanded to include a full A level. We also follow the AQA syllabus for A level Music due to its holistic view of music, studying musicians from Bach to Beyoncé and Monteverdi to Miles Davis. The course is split into three core components:
- Appraising Music (40%) - Pupils will build on their knowledge base from GCSE music, and continue to develop their contextual understanding of music, as well as developing analytical skills through both listening and formal analysis. There are seven areas of study. Area of Study 1 is compulsory, and all three sections of it are studied in detail. Two additional areas of study are then selected from AoS2-7:
- Western classical tradition 1650–1910 (compulsory)
- Baroque Solo Concerto
- Operas of Mozart
- Romantic Piano Music
- Pop music
- Music for media
- Music for theatre
- Contemporary traditional music
- Art music since 1910
- Performing Music (30%) - pupils will have plenty of opportunities to perform during the A level course, both as a soloist and as a part of an ensemble. The course requires a minimum of 10 minutes total performance time to complete this section of the course. The 10 minutes can comprise of different pieces that total at least 10 minutes. This can be a combination of solo and ensemble performances, or a focus on solo or ensemble playing. Throughout this course, pupils are expected to contribute to either the school band or choir, to help develop their ensemble performance skills.
- Composing Music (30%) - throughout the course, pupils will develop compositional skills through a range of tasks, ranging from pastiche composing to arranging, as well as score reduction and expansion. The focus of A level composition is learning how to develop musical ideas, including extending and manipulating musical ideas, and compose music that is musically convincing. This is assessed through two compositions - one in response to an externally set brief (Composition 1) and the other a free composition (Composition 2). The combined duration of the compositions must be a minimum of four and a half minutes.
For more information, feel free to download a copy of the AQA A level Music specification: