Welcome to Music!
The primary aim of the Music Department is to foster an inclusive and supportive atmosphere, where each girl deserves the opportunity to engage in a richly varied programme of music. At the forefront of this philosophy is the belief that every girl is musical.
Throughout the KS3 curriculum, greatest emphasis is placed on practical music – making by way of performing, improvising and composing. Indeed, the notion of being a “fearless” composer is ingrained from Year 7 upwards, and all students are encouraged to have confidence in their musical abilities, to take pride in their achievements, and to not be afraid to take risks. This is achieved through the exploration of a diverse range of musical styles, and students are encouraged to challenge conventions and to express their own creativity, opinions and ideas about what they believe music to be. This helps to embed the development of higher level thinking and analytical skills, which can find application in any subject area. For academic year 2017 – 2018,
Year 7 and 8 students receive a weekly 50 minute lesson, and Year 9 students receive their lesson as part of a carousel. Projects are carefully managed to ensure that all students follow the aims and objectives set out by the National Curriculum. Listening and appraising skills are taught through a combination of class and homework tasks, with key listening assessments taking place across the year for Years 7 and 8, and assessed music essays for Year 9. There are no longer any formal end of year listening papers. Students are formally assessed at the end of every practical project and receive personalised feedback. These marks are combined with written/listening results to give an overall end of year music average for each individual student. Music is a highly diverse subject and it is important to provide opportunities to assess musicality in a number of ways. Since September 2015 we have, as a school, been using our own marking criteria that feeds more readily into the new GCSE 9 - 1 “number” system.
Music at KS4 enhances and develops knowledge and skills learnt at KS3, and the department follows the Edexcel 9 – 1 GCSE specification. In addition to performing and composing coursework, the study of 8 set works in particular allows clear progression and preparation for A Level Music courses. In Year 10 students undertake regular “mock” practical assessments (both solo and ensemble), where each student receives personalised written feedback based upon the Edexcel marking criteria. This means that by the autumn term of Year 11 students have chosen their final performances pieces and complete “official” mock recordings ahead of the final GCSE recordings in the spring term.
Composition coursework is split into two phases, with the foundations of the “free” composition being completed in the summer term of Year 10, prior to completion in the autumn term of Year 11. Composition 2 briefs are released at the start of Year 11 and students research this in the autumn term, ready for completion in the spring term. The study and analysis of the 8 sets works (and wider listening) spans the two years, with 50% of the set works covered in Year 10, and the remaining set works studied by Christmas in Year 11, in time for mock exams. The areas of study for the set works are: AoS1 Instrumental Music; AoS2 Vocal Music; AoS3 Music for Stage and Screen; AoS Fusions.
Extra – curricular Activities
Our welcoming environment extends to extra – curricular activities, which operate daily
and are open to anyone who is able to attend on a regular basis. The vast array of
ensembles reflect a broad range of musical interests within the Department and these
rotate on a termly basis. Recently these have included:
➢ Capriccio Brass
➢ RHS Jazz Band
➢ Cadenza Chamber Orchestra
➢ Crushed Velvet
➢ RHS Guitar Ensemble
➢ KS3 Junior Orchestra
Key performance opportunities for 2017 – 2018 include a joint production with the Drama
Department (Berkoff’s The Trial), Foundation Day, which includes individual solo
performers as well as whole school anthem singing, KS3 Awards, Open Evening, GCSE
recordings and KS3 lunch time concert sessions.
County Music Service
There is a very healthy uptake for vocal and instrumental lessons (in a range of
disciplines), and CMS peripatetic staff visit on a weekly basis to offer individual and shared
lessons, for which a charge is made.
Staffing and Facilities
The department is managed by Mrs Louise Fairbrother (MA, BA Hons, LRSM, PGCE) with
Ms Marten the designated SLT link. Lessons are taught in the excellent learning
environment of the Alexander Music Centre, which was built during the early 1990s as the
result of a very generous legacy. The building boasts a large teaching/recital room that is
equipped with: a Yamaha grand piano, Roland electric piano (kindly paid for by the old
Girls Society), stage area, drum – kit, electric and bass guitars, amplifiers, steel pans, PCs
that utilise Sibelius software and midi keyboards, tuned and un – tuned percussion
(including a set of Samba instruments) and recording equipment in the way of a mixing
desk, PA, condenser mics and Cubase software. In addition there are five practice rooms,
each housing an upright piano. Finally, there is ample storage space, a set of keyboards,
two electric pianos and private toilet and refreshment facilities available, which make the
department an ideal concert venue.