Key Stage 3

What are the knowledge and skills that students will gain over Key Stage 3?

In Key Stage 3 pupils are taught skills in three main components:

  • Performance
  • composition and
  • listening and appraising.

The curriculum is largely based on units from the GCSE Music syllabus; this not only offers a broad and diverse curriculum but prepares students with some of the skills required for GCSE Music, should they wish to study the course in Year 9. Music is taught in tutor groups in KS3 and classes are split between the two Music teachers; half of the tutor groups will study a composition unit one half term whilst the other half will follow a performance unit; the groups will complete one unit each half term. One homework project is set each half term, which consolidates prior learning with independent research/learning; homework projects often have cross-curricular links with History, Geography, English or Art, to name some examples.

Year 7

At the beginning of Year 7 students complete a baseline assessment, which comprises of a listening examination and a performance assessment. This allows us to assess prior skills and knowledge of music that will enable us to differentiate lesson tasks and set appropriate practical targets.
Following the baseline assessment six practical units are taught in Year 7:

  • Instruments of the Orchestra
  • Advertising Jingles
  • African Music
  • Theme and Variation
  • My Music: Part 1 and
  • Music for Games.

We begin with the Instruments of the Orchestra music as this is an introduction to the key elements of music, stave notation and instrumental techniques. The Advertising Jingle unit is an introduction to composition and FL Studio, which is one of the two types of music software we use at John Colet. Through the African Music unit in Term 2, students develop skills in ensemble singing and performance. We also look at PEEL paragraphs in the Spring Term, alongside other departments, and how to make effective notes in preparation for creative or descriptive writing using a variation of the Cornell note taking system. The Theme and Variation unit is an introduction to western harmony and shows pupils how to compose a melody and harmony on sibelius, which is the second type of music software we use. It also looks at stave scores, which extends and develops student’s note reading skills from the previous term. In the Summer Term the My Music: Part 1 unit allows students to choose an instrument they would like to specialise on in Year 8, after learning four different instruments in Year 7. The Music for Games unit is a cross-curricular project with IT where students compose the theme music to game they created on Scratch Online; this unit is particularly popular with the boys.

Why is it delivered in this way in Year 7?

The units are delivered in this order to enable students to gain the fundamental practical and appraising skills required to access the later units.

Year 8

Like Year 7, there are six practical units in Year 8, each with accompanying homework projects. The first performance unit in Year 8 is Blues Music, which has been timed to fit into Black History month. In theory tasks, students extend and develop their knowledge of their chosen instrument/ voice by looking at the different ways in which music is notated and also performance techniques, such as correct fingering for keyboard players or diaphragm control for singers.

The first composition unit is My Music: Part 2 which follows on from My Music: Part 1 at the end of Year 7. In this unit students compose a piece of music on Sibelius for their chosen instrument/ voice. The listening and appraising activities in Term 1 focus on the student’s chosen instrument/ voice and include a range of tasks designed to develop their knowledge of skills required for their practical specialism and how to access a range of sheet music. As the composing groups are not practising their instruments or singing in lesson time, the My Music: Part 2 homework is to rehearse and record a solo performance on their chosen instrument/ voice. This ensures that performance skills are maintained and also shows pupils that music is an accessible subject that can be learned anywhere. In the Spring Term we look at non-western music in the Bhangra unit. By this time students are more familiar with key terminology required to access this unit. Another performance homework is set for the composing groups but his time, it’s an ensemble performance that requires students to work collaboratively with other musicians.

The performance unit in Term 2, History of Pop, is spread over two half terms. One reason for this is due to the large listening and appraising content. History of Pop: Part 1 looks at popular music from the 1950s-1980s; we also link this unit to history. For the listening and appraising aspect students learn about the development of pop music over time, including innovations in technology. For the performance element students will be placed into small groups and will choose a song to perform from a chosen decade.

In the final term of Year 8 we continue with Pop Music in performance lessons (History of Pop: Part 2), looking at music from the 1990s to the present-day. For the practical element, students organise their own group performances of pop songs they have chosen themselves, following guidance in the previous half term. They are expected to find the sheet music for their instrument/ voice and rehearse and perform the songs independently. More able musicians are encouraged to write their own pop songs as a challenge. The final composing unit, Film Music, mixes music with multimedia where students compose a soundtrack to a film trailer they have created.

Why is it delivered in this way in Year 8?

The units are delivered in this order to enable students to gain the fundamental practical and appraising skills required to access the later units. Earlier units are also more closely linked to the Year 7 music curriculum.

Key Stage 4

OCR GCSE Music J536

What are the knowledge and skills that students will gain over Key Stage 4?

In Key Stage 4 we follow the OCR GCSE Music curriculum which comprises of 6 units:

AoS1: My Music
AoS2: The Concerto through time
AoS3: Rhythms of the World
AoS4: Film Music
AoS5: Conventions of Pop

Students build their skills in the three main components; listening and appraising, performance and composition through a range of activities. Final coursework is completed in the Summer Term of Year 10 and throughout Year 11.

Year 9

Listening and Appraising

In Term 1 students follow two units: Theory and AoS2: The Concerto Through Time. In the Theory unit students develop their knowledge in the key elements of music (MAD TSHIRT) and through the Concerto Through Time unit they also develop their knowledge of western melody and harmony, fundamental skills for composition. The Rhythms of the World unit is taught over two terms, spring and summer, as it has the most unknown contents out of any of the areas of study. Alongside it we teach Film Music and Conventions of Pop. These two units are taught at this time as they do not require as much curriculum time as other units, due to prior student knowledge.

Performance and Composition

Students follow one performance and one composition unit per term; this allows them time outside of lessons to work. Students will complete three ensemble performances and three compositions. The first composition is for the pupil’s own instrument/ voice and is linked to the My Music: Part 2 unit in Year 8. The second composition is based on a given stimulus, which is a composition requirement in Year 11. The last composition is a free choice. Solo performance tasks are set for homework due to the large class sizes and lack of space for solo practice.

Year 10

Listening and Appraising

By the end of Year 9, students will have gained knowledge of all of the areas of study and in Year 10, we focus on exam technique relating to the GCSE listening paper. The curriculum follows the same order as Year 9, starting with Theory and The Concerto Through Time and then ending with Conventions of Pop and Rhythms of the World. However rather than teaching students about features of the music we focus on how those features are used in exam-style questioning.

Performance and Composition

In Year 10 students complete two performances and two compositions that are not directly linked to final coursework. In the Summer Term of Year 10, students work on their first portfolio folder, the Integrated Coursework. The Practical Portfolio cannot be started until Year 11.

Year 11

Listening and Appraising

In Year 11 we focus on the longer mark questions in the listening paper: the descriptive paragraph, the comparison paragraph and the dictation question, looking at musical examples from AoS2-5. In the Summer Term, once the coursework is complete, we only focus on the listening exam and revise all of the areas of study through a range of exam techniques and revision games.

Performance and Composition

In the first term of Year 11, students record their integrated performance and begin their practical portfolio, which comprises of an ensemble performance and a composition based on a set of stimuli provided by the exam board.

Why is it delivered in this way in KS4?

In Year 9 students learn about features from all of the areas of the listening exam and extend their knowledge of key musical terminology. This knowledge of consolidated in Year 10 and allows us to focus on exam technique. In Year 11, we focus on the more difficult, longer marked questions after students have familiarised themselves with required features and techniques. The main aim of practical lessons is Year 9 and the majority of 10 is to develop student’s skills in performance and composition and also their musicianship. This prepares them for their final coursework, which begins in the summer term of Year 10.



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