"Music develops analytical thinking because it requires students to be creative They don’t just need regurgitate memorised facts. They have to apply those facts ." - Dr Kevin Strother
The music department is an active and thriving part of School. We pride ourselves on a curriculum that is aimed at nurturing and developing knowledge and skills for all pupils. We are very fortunate to have a wide range of instruments and a suite of iMacs running Garageband and Sibelius for students to perform and create their own music. The Department has a commitment to excellence and encouragement of all students to develop their musical potential.
As well as exposing students to a variety of styles and genres of music through time and place, we ensure that innovative teaching methods and resources are employed making sure that students are inspired challenged All students are invited to the extra-curricular groups no matter their experience or ability.
12 bar blues
Minimalism (Garageband Project)
Around the World
Theme and Variation
Chords and Cadences
Blues and Jazz
Hooks and Riffs
Melodies and Chords
At Key Stage 4, students have a variety of opportunities to continue their musical studies. We offer AQA GCSE Music which exposes students to the development of music throughout time.
Lesson time is divided between the three major components of the course: Component 1 – Performing (30% of qualification); Component 2 – Composing (30% of qualification); and Component 3 – Appraising (40% of qualification).
Performance - students will be required to perform 2 pieces of music, one solo and one as part of an ensemble. The two pieces must come to a combined minimum of 4 minutes. The performance as part of an ensemble must last for a minimum of one minute.
Composition – students are required to create two pieces of music. The combined duration of the compositions must be a minimum of 3 minutes. Each composition must exploit the students’ knowledge of music composition techniques they have learnt in the course and typical characteristics of the style they have chosen to compose in.
Appraising – Students sit this component of the course at the end of Year 11. This is an exam of 1hr30mins where students listen to various pieces of music from the various styles which are studied in class.
At Key Stage 5 we offer Edexcel A level Music and also Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma specialising in either Performance, Composition or Technology. Students taking A level are well placed to further their studies in a Music based degree course. Students studying for the Level 3 Diploma can study a huge variety of units to complete this qualification and specialise in their own musical interests, and can follow a further education course in a variety of music disciplines.
Extra -Curricular Opportunities
The Music Department runs a lively and broad extra-curricular programme. Not only do we utilise our departmental teaching staff to run ensembles, and to rehearse with students at break times and lunchtimes, but we also are fortunate to have the expertise of our very experienced peripatetic staff who assist in the running of our Drumming Group. We currently run School Choir, Drumming Ensemble (African and Samba), Guitar Ensemble, Classical Band and Rock Band Practice. Smaller ensembles are invited to rehearse at break time and lunchtimes and practice rooms are equipped with amps, keyboards and drum kits and a piano. Our most recent addition to the department is a new music studio running Logic 10. This is proving to be a fantastic resource, with students creating compositions for GCSE, A level and a variety of professional recordings.
We have several high profile events throughout the school year. The Christmas Carol Concert in December is an opportunity for our School Choir, Drumming Group and soloists to perform in public. Our most prestigious performance has been our Christmas Concert at Gloucester Cathedral which was a fantastically memorable evening of music.
We also work alongside the Drama Department to stage a whole school musical. 2017 saw a fantastic performance of Grease with our music students performing in the pit band which is a brilliant achievement.
We also run a whole school House Music Competition where we encourage participation from as many students as possible. Pupils represent their House through solo or ensemble performance. Those who reach the final perform in front of a packed Hall and judges. This is a great whole school community event supporting the House System and encouraging musical talent.
Our Department has very close links with the Gloucestershire Music Hub and we continue to support our students by offering them the opportunity to take part in the various Music Centre Ensembles and the prestigious County Ensembles such as Gloucestershire Youth Choir, Youth Orchestra and Jazz Band. These groups perform regular concerts at Cheltenham Town Hall or the Pump Rooms, working with a variety of professional musicians which gives our students some wonderful opportunities. We have very recently had students taking part in the County Choir, and the Gloucestershire Youth Wind Orchestra culminating in the Music for Youth final at the Royal Albert Hall – it doesn’t get much better for a musician! In September we were awarded the ‘Music Mark’ award in recognition of a commitment to providing high quality music education for all children and young people.
Next steps or where the subject leads
The creative industries are now the fastest-growing sector in the UK economy, with some areas expanding at three times the national rate. Five out of 6 of our students in 2015 went on to study Music at University – an incredible statistic. Courses ranged from ‘Popular Music, to ‘Jazz Improvisation’ to ‘Composition for Film and Television’. The Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma is an excellent industry relevant course and this proves its accessibility for Further Education.
The various units that we study on that course equip students to follow a variety of pathways. Performance work can lead to work as a recording artist, session musician, music teacher, composer. Our project work can lead to becoming an event promoter, a festival organiser, a sound engineer, a record producer. Creating a music video can learn to work as a video producer, graphic/web designer, photographer or vlogger.
With so many transferable skills gained on the Subsidiary Diploma, any career path is open to students. Many gain jobs working in other sectors, or as creative people in non-creative companies.