As a department we believe that every child should be entitled to music lessons as part of a broad and balanced curriculum. Students who study music gain more than purely instrumental skills; they develop transferable skills and ways of expressing themselves which have a positive impact on their future lives.
“Music is an element that should be part and parcel of every child’s life via the education system.” Victoria Wood
As teachers, our aim is to encourage and ensure that all students who pass through our doors are able to enjoy experiences which increase their self-esteem and maximise their progress.
The music block was opened by Percussionist Evelyn Glennie in 2004 and comprises of two teaching spaces, each with music keyboards and ICT facilities. Our third teaching space is the Music Theatre, which is also used for recitals, rehearsals and ABRSM and Trinity Guildhall practical exam sessions. We also have five practice rooms and a music office. We are also fortunate to have a grand piano in the school theatre.
Our department consists of the Head of Music (Alexi Williams), Teacher of Music i/c KS3 (Hannah Alford) and Part Time Teacher of Music (Karis White), as well as our Music Administrator (Jenny McArdle), plus 13 peripatetic staff who teach over 130 students each week.
- Ms T Bridgman – Clarinet/Saxophone
- Mrs C Edkins – Voice
- Mr R Bishop – Drum Kit
- Mrs V Moss – Flute/Oboe
- Mrs F Naylor – Violin
- Mr R Norris – Pianoforte
- Mr A White – Brass
- Mr D Parker – Guitar
- Dr R Perks – Guitar
- Mr M Wallace – Pianoforte/Keyboard
- Mr J Williams – Pianoforte
- Mr M Strover – Violoncello/Piano
- Miss C Gascoigne – Voice
Many of our students go on to further studies in music at Conservatoires or Universities. We also have a number of students who attend the London Conservatoires on a Saturday and some who play in National Ensembles such as the National Youth Orchestra and the National Youth Music Theatre.
Key Stage 3
Our key stage 3 curriculum covers a wide variety of topics, each including performing, composing, listening and analysing. Students use a range of instruments, such as keyboard, percussion, guitars and voice.
Year 7 students learn about Musical Elements and Instruments of the Orchestra, Music Theory and Keyboard Skills and Recycled Rhythms. They have three lessons a fortnight, one of which is singing.
Year 8 students will explore the Blues, Musicals and Fusions, They have 2 lessons a fortnight.
Year 9 students study Covers, Songwriting and Film Music. They have 2 lessons a fortnight
Key Stage 4
Our GCSE students follow the Edexcel syllabus, which involves the three key areas of performing, composing and listening.
Students will perform in lessons throughout the two years and at a recital evening. Students will submit 4 minutes of performance. This may two pieces or more, one solo and one ensemble, on the student’s own instrument/voice. This can be in any style and must be of at least Grade 4 standard.
Students will compose two pieces of music, one from a brief sent by the exam board in September of year 11. The other will be based on a topic such as pop music, songs from a musical, the blues or minimalism. Students use Sibelius software to notate their work.
Students study 8 Set Works and analyse the music in a variety of ways, including comparing it with other pieces from that genre. At the end of Year 11 the exam will include listening questions and some short essay questions based on the 8 pieces:
- J S Bach: 3rd Movement from Brandenburg Concerto no. 5 in D major
- L van Beethoven: 1st Movement from Piano Sonata no. 8 in C minor ‘Pathétique’
- H Purcell: Music for a While
- Queen: Killer Queen (from the album ‘Sheer Heart Attack’)
Music for Stage andScreen
- S Schwartz: Defying Gravity (from the album of the cast recording of Wicked)
- J Williams: Main title/rebel blockade runner (from the soundtrack to Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope)
- Afro Celt Sound System: Release (from the album ‘Volume 2: Release’)
- Esperanza Spalding: Samba Em Preludio (from the album‘Esperanza’)
Key Stage 5
Our A Level students study the ‘Edexcel’ syllabus, following on from the GCSE course. This also includes the three areas of Performance (30%), Composing (30%) and Appraising (40%).
As with the GCSE, the course is divided into three components; performing, composing and appraising. Students will demonstrate their performing skills with a Recital lasting between 8 and 12 minutes. This can be either for solo and/or ensemble. The Recital can be in any style of music, notated or improvised. The level of difficult needs to be of at least Grade 7 standard.
A total of two compositions are submitted, the total time across both submissions must be a minimum of 6 minutes. The first is either a free composition or composed to a brief set by Pearson Edexcel relating to the set works, and must last at least 4 minutes. The second will assess compositional techniques, such as arrangement or Bach chorales. This composition must be at least 2 minutes in duration, unless the brief specifies a different duration.
The third component involves studying a set of pieces, divided into six areas of study (each with three pieces). They study the pieces in preparation for a two hour exam with two sections. Section A includes listening questions plus short melodic and rhythmic dictation. Section B consists of two essay questions linked with the musical elements found within the areas of study.
The Set Works studied are:
- J. S. Bach, Cantata, Ein feste Burg
- Mozart, The Magic Flute
- Vaughan Williams, On Wenlock Edge
- Vivaldi, Concerto in D minor, Op. 3 No. 11
- Clara Wieck-Schumann, Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 17: movement 1
- Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique
Music for Film
- Danny Elfman, Batman Returns
- Rachel Portman, The Duchess
- Bernard Herrmann, Psycho
Popular Music and Jazz
- Courtney Pine, Back in the Day
- Kate Bush, Hounds of Love
- Beatles, Revolver
- Debussy, Estampes
- Familia Valera Miranda, Caña Quema
- Anoushka Shankar, Breathing Under Water
- Cage, Three Dances for Two Prepared Pianos
- Kaija Saariaho, Petals for Violoncello and Live Electronics
- Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring
The course is demanding but students are encouraged to study in depth and are supported by access to academic reading lists, regular attendance at Senior Choir to enhance aural skills and a range of performance opportunities.
What will you learn about?
Across all key stages, students will learn about a range of genres, key pieces of music, important composers.
To be successful in this subject students will need to be good at and enjoy:
Working with others, making music, trying new things and listening to a wide range of styles of music. If a student plays an instrument, they are encouraged to bring it to lessons.
Progression routes & career opportunities
Many of our students have continued with their musical careers, as performers, musical directors and teachers. Our musicians have also had other doors opened to them through their music and the skills that they have gained from commitment to their musical pursuits. These include medicine, engineering and law.
The department offers a lot of opportunities for extra-curricular involvement, including weekly rehearsals of Junior and Senior Choirs, Junior Jazz Band and Big Band, Palmer Orchestra and Gibson Orchestra, Symphonic Wind Band, Wind Quintet. These ensembles perform throughout the year, both in and out of school. All Year 7s also perform once a year as a whole year group and participate in the annual Founders Day service in the summer term.
We are very proud to run our own Music Festival in the Spring Term. Visiting professionals adjudicate the classes, with the winners of each class performing at the Finals Evening, where the CCCS Young Musician of the Year and CCCS Junior Young Musician of the Year are announced.
As the school has its foundation in the Coopers’ Livery Company, we participate in a number of their events, including the Lord Mayor’s Banquet at Mansion House. Our outstanding musicians have also performed at Coopers’ Society and Common Hall events, providing a showcase of their talent and being introduced to the traditions of the Company.