Approach to Teaching
Music is a dynamic and constantly evolving subject that is capable of stirring up a great many emotions in the listener. It is an art form most of us access regularly and illicit some sort of emotional response, even if it is music we are not familiar with. At St Edmunds we believe in challenging pupils to not only listen to new and unfamiliar styles of music, but to appreciate how different music is put together, why it exists and how we can compose and perform music in different styles. A typical lesson will have pupils listen to a style of music and forming their own questions about it. We will discuss it, find out what makes it tick, perhaps drawing comparisons with music they may already be familiar with. We then take them on an exciting journey of discovery, encouraging them to perform on a variety of instruments, developing their performing skills to as high a standard as possible. Typically we will then ask the pupils to compose their own response to the style being studied, which of course can be very satisfying and give them an even greater insight into the many skills that a composer has to exhibit in creating a piece of music. We very much hope that at the very least pupils will go on to explore a wider range of musical styles in their future journey in life, and that for some it may inspire them to take the subject further and actually become our future composers and performers.
By the very nature of the subject, most lessons will actually be very practical, with pupils having the opportunity to perform on a variety of instruments, such as keyboards, guitars, basses, drums, and percussion. We even have a dedicated ICT suit equipped with music sequencing software, so that pupils can record their work and explore how contemporary styles of music such as dance music and rock is created in a studio. We have our own recording studio for the use of year 10 and 11 GCSE students.
We recognise that many pupils will want to take up an instrument, or perhaps continue with an instrument they already started at their primary school, and we can offer private lessons at St Edmunds in most instruments. The lessons take place either during the school day, or more often after school between 3pm and 5pm. Instruments we offer include Guitar, Woodwind, Brass, Drums, Piano, Strings, and Singing. These lessons are in addition to their normal class music lessons, and so we have to make a charge for these of £75 a term payable in advance. All enquiries should be directed to the Director of Learning for Music.
Key Stage 3 (Year 7-9)
In year 7 we start to introduce pupils to the elements of music and also develop their performing skills, which in the first instance is by using their voices via regular class singing. Topics studied in year 7 include:
The Elements of Music: Pitch, Rhythm, Dynamics, Structure, Tempo, Texture, Timbre, Silence.
Notating rhythm and Pitch.
Performing on the keyboard.
Composing an AABA melody.
Singing in preparation for St Edmunds Day, Education Sunday and the Carol Service.
Gamelan Music (music from Indonesia).
Jazz- its history, practitioners, styles, and the art of improvising.
Singing in preparation for the Portsmouth Music Hub singing event.
Motifs- Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, developing motifs, the classical Orchestra.
In year 8 we build on the skills pupils developed in year 7, by encouraging them to explore more complex musical styles, to make greater use of notation in both performing and composing, and to show a greater awareness for the musical elements. Topics studied include:
Film music- the use of music in films to set mood; theme tunes, or leitmotifs.
Minimalist Music- exploring composers such as Steve Reich, Philip Glass and Mike Oldfield.
The Blues- in history, practitioners, how the elements of music are used.
Rock’n’Roll- how it developed from the blues and exploring its development.
Indian Classical Music.
Ground Bass- Baroque music, repeating basslines, harmony and chords in Baroque music.
In year 9 pupils are given a little more creative freedom to explore their performing interests, as well as consolidating their composing skills. Topics studied include:
Songwriting- studying ‘Eleanor Rigby’ by the Beatles, including the use of chords.
Riffs- music technology project studying Sweet Child of Mine’.
Performing project- in groups putting together a performance of a Pop/ Rock song.
Chords and Chord sequences- how to compose using chord sequences.
Reggae- its history, practitioners and composition techniques.
Dance Music- history of dance music styles, using a sequencer to compose a dance piece.
Celtic/ Folk Music- the Celtic nations and their musical traditions, performing a typical reel, arranging a folk song such as ‘She Moves Through the Fair.
Key Stage 4 (Year 10-11)
Pupils interested in the GCSE Music option are strongly advised to be at least grade 1 on an instrument, or be competent singers. Those with no instrumental ability are advised to follow the Music Technology option. Receiving regular tuition on an instrument, either through the school’s peripatetic service, or privately, will greatly enhance the chances of success in this subject.
GCSE Music is the most appropriate option for those that are perhaps traditional instrumentalists- they play an instrument such as flute, guitar, drums, violin etc or they sing.
GCSE Music Technology is a route to the same qualification (GCSE Music) but for pupils that have an interest in modern composing and performing methods, such as DJs, dance music producers, or those with an interest in recording.
It is important to note that pupils in both subjects follow the same Edexcel GCSE Music syllabus, and they achieve the same qualification at the end of the course. It is simply the way the course is taught, and the options for the coursework element that are different. Please note, pupils cannot take both subjects.
The board we follow is Edexcel GCSE Music 2MU01.
40% written paper
Coursework (for GCSE Music option)
There are 4 pieces of coursework to produce, as follows:
15% Solo Performing- performing on your instrument on your own
15% Ensemble performing with at least one other person
15% Composition 1
15% Composition 2
Coursework (for GCSE Music Technology option)
4 pieces of coursework as follows:
15% Sequencing- creating a performance of a piece of music on the computer
15% Multitrack recording- recording a small band
15% Composition 1
15% Composition 2
The listening paper for both options is based of 12 set works across 4 different areas of study:
Area of Study 1: Western Classical Music 1600- 1899
Handel- chorus ‘And the Glory of the Lord’ from ‘Messiah’
Mozart- 1st movement from symphony no 40
Chopin- piano prelude no 15 op 28
Area of Study 2: Music in the 20th Century
Schoenberg- ‘Peripetie’ from 5 Orchestral Pieces
Bernstein- ‘Something’s Coming’ from West Side Story
Reich- 3rd movement from Electric Counterpoint
Area of Study 3: Popular Music in Context
Miles Davis- ‘All Blues’ from Kind of Blue
Jeff Buckley- ‘Grace’ from Grace
Moby- ‘Why Does my Heart Feel so Bad’
Area of Study 4: World Music
Capercaillie- ‘Skye Waulking Song’
Rag Desh- Indian Classical Music
Koko- ‘Yiri’ (African music)
All year 10 and 11 GCSE Music and Music Technology have access to a PC suite equipped with 15 computers running Cubase 5 sequencing software. There is also a recording studio with a state of the art PC, running Cubase 5 and an M-Audio digital mixing desk. There are a range of excellent microphones that will suite a wide range of recording applications.
Other department resources include a large number of keyboards, 4 pianos, an electric piano, electric guitars, acoustic guitars, 2 bass guitars, a variety of amps, a PA system, 2 Roland digital drums kits, an acoustic drum kit and a large number of traditional instruments and percussion.
Pupils are issued with a text book at the start of the course: Edexcel GCSE Music by John Arkell and Jonny Martin published by Pearson ISBN 978-846904-03-5
It is recommended that pupils purchase for themselves the following revision guide that will be a useful addition to their course notes and the issued text book:
Edxcel GCSE Music Revision Guide by Alan Charlton published by Rhinegold ISBN 978-1-907447-09-9
The following is a more in depth study guide that may also be worth purchasing: Edxcel GCSE Music Study Guide by Paul Terry published by Rhinegold ISBN 978-1-906178-78-9
Portsmouth Music Hub
Portsmouth Music Hub is an active network of organisations working in partnership and committed to enhancing music and music education in and around Portsmouth.
Click on the link below to view the Portsmouth Music Hub website: