Year 7 have music lessons once per fortnight. They look at all three strands of music throughout the year; performance, composition and listening. There is an extra focus on performance and singing in the first term, developing students’ abilities to listen to each other as part of an ensemble and gaining some basic keyboard and ukulele skills for all students.
In the second term, students begin to compose their own music more and more, as they look at the different elements of music; rhythm and metre, dynamics, pitch, harmony and melody. Students are encouraged to develop critical appraisal skills, being able to give feedback on their own work and the work of others to foster independence and creativity.
The final term each year is more targeted at musical history; introducing students to genres of music they are less likely to be familiar with, such as blues, jazz, musical theatre, western classical, rock, film music, and folk music. All of these genres feature in the new Edexcel GCSE Syllabus, and it is vital to start looking at these genres at this early stage in order to give all students a chance to succeed at GCSE level, not only those who have instrumental lessons outside of the classroom.
Year 8 music follows broadly the same structure as year 7. Students still receive one lesson per fortnight and the focus for each term remains the same, but in year 8 many students will start using guitars and other band instruments to develop their performance skills further, working in small groups to perform familiar songs.
In the second term, students’ compositions will be expected to develop much further, and most students will come to the end of this term with a song they have written entirely themselves. Through the process of songwriting they will deepen their understanding of each of the elements of music studied in year 7 to a much greater level.
The final term will be studying further pieces of music in different styles to broaden the experience of the students that have chosen to continue music into year 9.
Year 9 is intended to lay the foundations for those students who are considering going on to study GCSE. Students now have a lesson every week, and composition skills are developed through studying each of the GCSE genres in more detail. Performance skills are developed both through the study of these genres, and also at any opportunity to support the younger students in their music making. At the Christmas showcase, year 9 students performed as a band, backing the year 7 students who had massed as a year group to perform a song all together. While music theory knowledge is developed, this is still mainly done through practical music making as in previous years, which allows students to experience the concepts they are studying, instead of just thinking about them as abstract ideas.