Academic Music lessons seek to broaden and deepen pupils’ understanding and appreciation of Music at all levels, from pupils who do not consider themselves to be particularly musical right through to those who propose to pursue Music in further education and beyond.

Lower School pupils and the Middle Fourth Form have one period of Music each week, during which they study a broad range of musical genres, through listening, composition and performing. Members of the Middle Fourth are also able to opt for one additional period of Music where they are able to explore further their Musical interests. A healthy number of pupils go on to study at GCSE and A level.

Pupils’ study of Music is strengthened by access to a wide range of musical opportunities, co-curricular activities, trips, concerts and events throughout the academic year.

We enjoy purpose-built facilities on the edge of the campus. The department is inclusive and facilitates music-making amongst all pupils.

Pupils flourish within the department due to the range of opportunities available, the supportive attitude of their peers, and the direction of inspirational staff.

Participation in the department’s activities challenges pupils to develop their talents and broaden their interests. Each learns to become confident in themselves, and to be tolerant and appreciative of others.

Find out more about our co-curricular programme

View this term’s Calendar of events

Follow the links below to learn more about what our Department offers.

Years 7 and 8.

Pupils in the Lower School enjoy a practical and entertaining course that focuses on manipulating the elements of music in performance and composition. There is a strong emphasis on learning through music-making.

Pupils have one lesson a week.


Year 9.

All pupils study a course which covers a broad span of music theory, composition and performance. Roughly half of the lessons during the year are computer-based, using Sibelius notation software and Garageband.

The course concludes with an independent individual research project which is then presented to the whole class.

Pupils have one lesson each week.

Pupils study the Edexcel Music GCSE. This is comprised of three components:

Component One: Performing.

Candidates submit recordings of one solo and one ensemble performance. This unit is internally assessed and forms 30% of the total GCSE.

Component Two: Composing.

Candidates submit two compositions. The compositions must relate to two different areas of study (see below) and one is to a brief set by the exam board. This unit is internally assessed and forms 30% of the total GCSE.

Unit Three: Appraising.

This is a 1-hour 45-minute examination with questions related to the eight set works studied during the course, and unfamiliar music.

In Section A there are six compulsory questions in response to extracts from the set works that are played during the examination, a musical dictation exercise and a question on an unfamiliar piece played during the exam.

In Section B candidates answer one question, comparing a set work to a piece of unfamiliar music

This unit is externally assessed and forms 40% of the total GCSE.

Areas of Study (and set works)

Instrumental Music 1700-1820

  • Bach, Brandenburg Concerto No.5 (3rd movement)
  • Beethoven, Piano Sonata No.8 ‘Pathetique’ (1st movement)

Vocal Music

  • Purcell, Music for a While
  • Queen, Killer Queen

Music for Stage and Screen

  • Schwartz, ‘Wicked’ (Defying Gravity)
  • Williams, ‘Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope’ (Main title/Rebel blockade runner)


  • Afro-Celt Sound System, Release
  • Esperanza Spalding, Samba em Preludio

Component 1: Performing.

This is a non-examined assessment, which is externally assessed. It is worth 30% of the qualification.

Pupils will produce a public performance of one or more pieces, performed as a recital. Performance can be playing or singing solo, in an ensemble, improvising, or realising music using music technology.

The total performance time across all pieces must be a minimum of eight minutes.

Performances must be recorded after 1 March in the year of certification and all materials for assessment submitted to arrive by 15 May in the year of certification.

Component 2: Composing.

This is a non-examined assessment which is externally assessed. It is worth 30% of the qualification.

Pupils create a total of two compositions. The first composition is chosen from a list of briefs related to the area of study, set by Pearson (the exam board). This brief assesses the pupils’ compositional technique, and the piece must be at least one minute in duration.

The second piece must be a free composition of the pupil’s choosing. This composition must be at least four minutes in duration.

Total time across both submissions must be a minimum of six minutes.

Component 3: Appraising.

This will be a written examination lasting two hours. It is worth 40% of the qualification.

The exam will assess the pupil’s knowledge and understanding of musical elements, contexts and language. Candidates will be asked to demonstrate their application of knowledge through the context of six areas of study, each with three set works.

  • Vocal Music
  • Instrumental Music
  • Music for Film
  • Popular Music and Jazz
  • Fusions
  • New Directions
  • Application of knowledge to unfamiliar works

This paper comprises two sections: A and B:

  • Section A: Areas of study and dictation

This section comprises three questions related to the set works (the audio and a skeleton score are provided), plus one short melody/rhythm completion exercise.

  • Section B: Extended response

This section includes two essay questions. Essay one asks students to draw links from their study of the set works to the music heard as an unfamiliar extract.

Essay two gives a choice of three questions that ask students to evaluate the musical elements, context and language of one set work. Each option will be from a different area of study.

Set works.

Vocal Music

  • JS Bach, Cantata, Ein feste Burg
  • Mozart, The Magic Flute
  • Vaughan Williams, On Wenlock Edge

Instrumental Music

  • 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

New Directions

  • Cage, Three Dances for Two Prepared Pianos
  • Kaija Saariaho, Petals for Violoncello and Live Electronics
  • Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring

The Music Department is housed in a purpose-built Music School. The building contains a large teaching room, often used for rehearsals, a suite of practice rooms, and a suite of iMacs.

Specialist facilities are available for pupils whose interests lie in the area of contemporary music. A fully equipped band room is available to pupils, and they are trained with the equipment during Band Workshops.

Big School, Chapel and Main Hall are also used for rehearsals and are our principal performance venues.

The department retains some more unusual instruments (baritone sax, alto flutes, etc) for the use of pupils.

There is a  large four-manual Copeman Hart organ (2007) in Chapel.