Acting Head of Department: Mr R Jessep
Music contributes to the development of students and to the school curriculum by providing a powerful and distinctive form of communication and expression. Music can change the way children feel, think and act. It affects emotion and moods providing opportunity for personal expression, reflection and emotional wellbeing. It develops thinking, increasing perception, imagination, creativity and physical co-ordination: skills which can be transferred to other areas of experience and learning. Music enables children to define themselves in relation to others, their friends, social groups and to the culture in which they live. Music is an integral part of culture, past and present.
The teaching of music extends everyday experiences, providing opportunities and links between home, school and other outside agencies. It develops the ability to focus listening and analyse what is heard. It introduces pupils to different forms of music-making and encourages objective judgement of musical quality. Music stimulates the acquisition of the skills, attitudes and attributes needed for life such as listening skills, concentration, aural memory, presentation and teamwork. It also develops creativity, risk-taking, intuition, sensitivity, perseverance and a sense of achievement and enjoyment.
Students have two music lessons a week. Right from the outset the link is made between what we do in school and music in the wider community. We start in Year 7 with a Blues Day workshop where some of our talented performers and composers in the department demonstrate how to play in a variety of blues styles and the influence that Blues had and has on popular music. A major focus is on students using and developing their vocal skill through singing music of different times and styles. They are encouraged to use a wide variety of instruments and to extend their musical experience through participation in lunchtime and after-school clubs and groups.
In Year 8 the emphasis is on informal group music making through a variety of projects from music for the theatre linking with Drama, to contemporary American minimalism and the Year 8 song competition. Through the Year 8 Song Workshop students are given top tips for creating songs by our talented team of adult practitioners as well as some of our Year 9 and 10 song writers.
Here is what some of our students have to say about music at KS3...
What do you most enjoy about your music lessons?
- “Learning how to play new instruments and working in a whole class.”
- “Trying out new instruments that I haven’t seen or heard of before.”
- “I enjoy being in small groups and going off and composing some music.”
What is different about music?
- “You have a practical lesson almost every lesson.”
- “You get to move around and play stuff. You are not just sitting.”
- “You get to work as a whole class and play instruments.”
Year 8 Song Competition
Year 8 will write and perform songs, as groups and individuals, to be judged in an evening performance. These are always of a high calibre. Parents are encouraged to come along and watch the event.
So why should I study GCSE music?
It develops generic, transferrable skills:
- Personal discipline and organisation
- Social empathy
- Historical understanding
- Analytical / evaluative thinking
- Emotional understanding / confidence
It develops specific musical skills:
- Ensemble playing – what is learned in small groups at GCSE can be applied to playing with larger groups like orchestras, choirs
- Composing – develops understanding of how music works, and leads to more informed performances and better interpretations
- Listening – technical and analytical awareness results in more accurate playing
- Context – knowing how pieces should be interpreted to convey meaning effectively
But shouldn’t I do another EBacc subject instead?
- GCSE Music is a well-repsected subject in its own right.
- Music develops a unique range of personal skills and attributes, many of which employers are keen to see
- It is the only subject to focus on sound and how we can use sound to communicate ideas
- The processes of making and studying music are unique: studying music develops diverse brain capabilities
- International and local research shows that music develops the brain in ways that directly benefit learning in other subjects
- The variety of learning styles in music makes it a refreshing and creative break from other learning
Can’t I just do music on my instrument outside of school?
- GCSE music will make you a better player, because you will be more musically aware
- The best musicians have always been able to perform, compose, arrange, analyse, improvise (think about Bach, Miles Davis, Adele, Muse) – they are not just players. GCSE will give you these wider skills, and you will enjoy all of your music more.
- Will you really have time to carry on with music outside school; or will the pressures of learning other subjects lead you to give up your music?
What about my overall points score for college?
- There is some research evidence showing that doing both GCSE music and learning an instrument has the strongest possible impact on other learning / results: so why not do both!
- You can use both GCSE music and a Grade 6, Grade 7 or Grade 8 exam as part of your overall KS4 scores
Footnote: The percentage of students getting employment after studying music at degree level is higher than for most other subjects...
Why did you decide to opt for music?
- “I took music because it’s a chance for you to be creative. I’ve always loved music and I wanted to widen my skills”
- “I love listening to it and singing and making music.”
What are the benefits of studying music for you?
- “I want to be a sound engineer when I am older.”
- “It helps me further my understanding of my instrument and music theory.”
What would you say to someone who was considering taking up music?
- “I would say that taking up music is great because you learn a lot and all of the [lessons] are mostly practical.”
- “If you can do it and you are passionate about it, then go for it.”
- “Do it!”
We have a lively and varied selection of extra curricular activities for your child to partake in. The timetable for these is usually published in the Priestlands Pupil Post and information can also be found in our Extra Curricular section, where you will also find information on instrumental music lessons and a form to complete and return to the school if you would like to take up lessons.