Music

We embrace music from all times and genres and from all corners of the world. One of our aims is to challenge common preconceptions of music and expand students’ musical experience so they can live their lives having been introduced to a varied and relevant musical canon. In addition to the classroom curriculum we strongly encourage pupils to engage in the wider musical offer of the school by taking part in one of our many ensembles, having private lessons on an instrument or by throwing themselves into House Music. At its heart music is a social activity and many students form deep friendships through engagement in these activities and they can open the door to performance opportunities beyond the scope of the school grounds.

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words.” Victor Hugo

We have a strong record of preparing students to study music at universities, colleges and conservatoires and a number of our pupils go on to work professionally in the UK’s highly successful music industry. We think it is important to give students access to relevant career opportunities and constantly assess our curriculum to ensure it is relevant in the current musical landscape. Pupils studying A level and GCSE music will be expected to listen widely to music beyond their set works to develop their wider understanding and will be given opportunities to see works performed live as part of their courses.

However, we also have a great many students who enjoy music as a recreation beyond the classroom and we value their needs just as highly. We do not believe in the distinction between ‘musical’ and ‘unmusical’ students, just ones that have so far had different amounts of experience. We strive to foster students’ creativity but never forget that in order to progress the development of a positive work ethic is required – no-one is born with an innate understanding of music.

“I was obliged to be industrious. Whoever is equally industrious will succeed equally well. J.S.Bach

Students study music through the activities of performing music, listening to and appraising music, and composing music and these activities are given equal prominence in our curriculum. Pupils will be given opportunities to use music technology, to learn to play an instrument, to develop a grasp of music theory appropriate to their level of study, to work in ensembles to perform and compose music and to listen to and analyse music in a number of styles and genres.

“To listen is an effort, and just to hear is no merit. A duck hears also.”— Igor Stravinsky

Pupils will not only develop musical skills but will also develop vital life long skills. Many of these come from the longer project work undertaken in music; teamwork, time management, long term planning, evaluation and improvement, but students will also develop resilience, listening skills, memory, motor coordination, self-discipline, pattern recognition and an understanding of how we practise and improve a skill.

“A creative artist works on his next composition because he was not satisfied with his previous one.”— Dmitri Shostakovich

The Crossley Heath music curriculum is designed to give pupils a varied yet thorough grounding in the key skills of performing, composing and listening and appraising.

 


Music at Key Stage 3

Year 7
Students will learn about the elements of music.
Students will learn the language of notation and will use rhythm to create a composition.
Students will learn to identify a range of instrumental timbres.
Students will learn about treble clef, time signatures and dynamics.
Students will learn to play the keyboard.
Students will learn about Chinese and North Indian Classical Musical instruments and compose their own melody using a rag. They will then use music technology to realise this melody.
Students will learn how to play the ukulele.
Students will learn how to play a piece of programme music.
Students will learn how to formulate chords and use them in an arrangement.

Year 8
Students will learn to play the guitar and will learn some of the features of pop songs.
Students will learn the features of blues music and compose and perform their own blues piece.
Students will learn about bass clef and revisit the formation of chords.
Students will learn to create, arrange and perform a cover version of a song of their choice.
Students will learn about music in media (film and video games) and will use accepted musical stereotypes to create their own piece using music technology.
Students will learn about disco music and perform a piece of disco music.

 


GCSE Curriculum: Years 9-11

Year 9

Year 9 is used as a foundation year to thoroughly prepare students for their GCSE studies and ensure transition between KS3 and KS4 is a smooth process.

Performing
Students will perform frequently during group performance tasks. For example;
– Students perform the Ed Sheeran song Thinking Out Loud in small ensembles
– Students perform and arrange Winter from the Four Seasons in small ensembles.
Students will start to prepare solo performances.
Students are encouraged to access additional opportunities to perform through extra-curricular provision.

Composing
Students will initially work in groups to create group compositions (pop song composition).
They will then move toward working in pairs (ground bass composition).
They will then work on individual compositions in preparation for the start of GCSE in year 10 (poem setting composition, leitmotif composition).
Students will develop their ability to use harmony, texture, melody and structure to craft compositions.
Students will analyse the work of others in order to improve their own submissions.
Students will have opportunities to develop their understanding of music technology in order to support their composition work.

Listening and Appraising
Students will study a number of important and influential musical styles and genres in order to to deepen their understanding of key musical techniques. They will study:
– The structure and harmonic conventions of a pop song.
– The periods of music (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Modern).
– The features of Waltz (triple time).
– Baroque techniques (Ground Bass and Canon).
– Word setting and word painting.
– Leitmotif and the creation of mood in music.
Students will develop their grasp of music theory by studying key signatures, cadences, textures, and melodic shapes.

GCSE

Performing
Students will prepare a solo and ensemble performance to be delivered at the end of the course.
Students will assess a number of performances from previous candidates in order to better analyse and improve their own performance.
Students will also perform at points during the study of set works (eg. performing Killer Queen).
Students are encouraged to access additional opportunities to perform through extra-curricular provision.

Composing
Students will develop their composing ability by completing a practise compositions in year 10.
Students will assess and analyse the work of other composers and previous students in order to improve their work.
Students will then complete their GCSE free choice and brief compositions in year 11.
Student work will be regularly reviewed with a variety of specific compositional techniques studied in depth.

Listening and Appraising
Students will study an exciting range of set works developing their understanding of each work’s context and musical features. Set Works are organised into four Areas of Study:

– Instrumental Music (Brandenburg Concerto No.5 by J.S. Bach; Piano Sonata No.8 by Beethoven)
– Vocal Music (Music for a While by Purcell; Killer Queen by Queen)
– Music for Stage and Screen (The Star Wars Theme; Defying Gravity from Wicked)
– Fusions (Samba Em Preludio by Esperanza Spalding; Release by Afro Celt Sound System)
Students will also engage with a range of relevant wider listening, musical dictation exercises and essay writing skills.


A Level Curriculum

A level music offers an exciting opportunity to deeply understand the medium of music. Through extended study students develop a level of depth and breadth of understanding of the language of music which allows them the satisfaction of producing practical work of a high quality. Many of our students go on to study music at prestigious musical higher education institutions as a precursor to embarking on careers in the music industry (Royal Northern College of Music, Leeds University, Birmingham Conservatoire, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and Edinburgh University have been some recent student destinations).

However, A-level music also offers a really valuable subject for students to study alongside other subjects regardless of their future career plans and can act as complimentary subject alongside either other arts or sciences. Music A-level is highly regarded by prestigious UK universities.

Most students who study A-level music have a passion for the subject, are keen and able performers and want to grasp the many opportunities the course offers for engaging more deeply with the subject.

Performing
Students will prepare a recital for performance at the end of the course.
Students will assess a number of performances from previous candidates in order to better analyse and improve their own performance.
Students will also perform when opportunities present themselves during the study of set works (eg. performing Eleanor Rigby).
Students are encouraged to access additional opportunities to perform through extra-curricular provision.
Composing
Students will develop their composing ability by completing a number of practise compositions in a variety of styles including film music and compositions for set ensembles/instruments.
Students will also study specific examples of compositional techniques useful to them before working on their A level composition in year 13.
Student work will be regularly reviewed with a variety of specific compositional techniques studied in depth.
Students will also develop their depth of understanding of harmonic language and tonality through the study of Bach chorales.
Listening and Appraising
Students will study an exciting and comprehensive set of 18 set works developing their understanding of each work’s context and musical features. Set works are organised into six Areas of Study:

– Instrumental Music
– Vocal Music
– Film Music
– Pop Music and Jazz
– Fusions
– New Directions
Students will also engage with a range of relevant wider listening, musical dictation exercises and essay writing skills.


The enriched curriculum

There are a great range of musical activities students can engage in beyond classroom lessons.

Ensembles
We offer a range of instrumental and vocal ensembles from senior choir to samba. We aim to provide a range of opportunities at different levels from participatory groups accessible by all to high level performance groups.

Instrumental Lessons
Students can learn to play a variety of different instruments by having individual instrumental lessons in school. We support this with lunchtime theory support. Many pupils further support their study by engaging in the ensembles the school offers.

Performances
There are always a range of opportunities to perform in school at formal events (like Prize Giving and the Carol Service), in concerts or in assemblies. There are also times when students can experience professional musicians performing in school and we take many opportunities to access local performances of relevant works (for example Psycho with a live orchestra, Wicked and Opera North workshops and performances). Students can also contribute to one of our regular shows, either in a singing role or on the pit band.

Trips
We take pupils on a number of trips to enhance their musical experience, most notably our regular foreign music concert tours (recent destinations include the Rhineland and Barcelona).

Competitions and exams
Every year significant numbers of students take graded music examinations through school. We regularly signpost local and national competitions when appropriate for specific students (eg. Composing competitions) and we hold an annual year 7 music competition. For many, the high point of the year is the popular House Music competition in the last week of the year.