Music

Music at KS3

The music department has a large classroom/group rehearsal room, with 3 connecting rooms for group work, a smaller teaching space (equipped with 11 Applemac computers) for GCSE and A Level groups and smaller ensemble rehearsal spaces, 5 individual teaching rooms for peripatetic teachers, a department office and band/recording room.

KS3 Students have an hour a week of class music. All are taught in groups of 22.

The KS3 course covers all of the key areas of musical aptitude – Appraising, Composing, Listening and Performing, with a wide variety of practical, listening and theoretical activities. They work on independent learning projects, twice yearly, focusing on any particular area of music that interests them.   The Music Department is well equipped with resources and instruments and ipads to enable boys to experience and thereby develop a strong understanding and overall appreciation of all aspects of music in different genres.

Practical work will make use of the boys’ own instruments, their voices and a vast array of available instruments. Basic musical theory is thereon built up from the very start. Boys are encouraged to use their own musical skills on other instruments and there is always the opportunity for them to continue or take up instrumental lessons with a peripatetic teacher. There are 22 teachers who visit the school to give weekly individual lessons in a wide range of orchestral and popular instruments. The lessons are private and the cost of these lessons is approximately £160 for 10, 30 minute lessons.

Creative work in composing is entered into throughout the course and a variety of topics are explored to encourage individual and group music making. Boys will learn about melody, harmony and rhythm using traditional and graphic notation, use music software and have the opportunity to develop their skills and create their own compositions.

Boys are invited to further their musical interests by joining one of the School Choirs, Jazz Orchestra, String Orchestras, Orchestra and Wind Band as well as other specialist ensembles for brass, saxophone, guitar, flute or mixed chamber music. Concerts are arranged in and out of school for these ensembles and we perform twice yearly in the Cathedral – at our Carol Service in December and our Commemoration Service in May. We enter national and local competitions. The school has its own record label – ‘Outside Man Records’ and teachers and students seek out and develop internal talent and present their skills through ‘Langton Live’ events. Other than the rock and pop musicians having their outlet with the record label, jazz musicians are mentored and hold a Jazz gig once a year. Concert trips are arranged locally and to London and a large scale musical is produced in-house bi-annually. Various tours and concerts are arranged throughout the year.

The department has an enthusiastic interest in the benefits of Music on physical and mental well-being. Following a wonderful 3-day festival in 2016, the department is continuing to develop and run projects involving the community as part of the Langton Song Centre. Some of these projects include, The Butterfly Machine (working with the RNIB to help visually impaired people experience visual arts through music), the Skylark’s Sing to Beat Parkinson’s project and the Melody for Me project (working with dementia patients to help restore memories through music). Involvement in these projects is open to all of our students; it is our aim to help build a strong sense of altruism in ‘Leaders of Tomorrow’.

Music at KS4

GCSE Music is about making and listening to music. It covers performing, composing, listening to, analysing and appraising a wide variety of music – classical music, popular music, music for stage and screen and world music.

Will I enjoy this course?

You will enjoy this course if you want to study a subject that:

  • involves performing solo – 15%
  • gives you the opportunity to play music with others in various group situations – 15%
  • builds on your existing strengths and interests in music, e.g. playing an instrument, composing
  • involves composing or arranging music on your own, following certain conventions – 30%
  • involves listening to, studying and analysing various styles of music– 40%

How does it follow on from what I have learned before?

You will improve your own skills in performing, through regular solo and group performances to the class. You will compose different types of music using conventions found in a variety of music, along with improving your music theory knowledge and aural awareness. You will listen to, perform and closely analyse 8 set works, following the music and learn more about how and why they were written and/or performed. You will also experience wider listening around these set works, whilst learning to draw comparisons between the different repertoire. Music is an academic subject and writing is a significant part of the course; you will consolidate existing knowledge and learn new vocabulary to enable you to describe music in an appropriate manner, whilst providing musical examples to reinforce each point.

Requirements for the course

It involves an even greater element of independent study than in KS3. You will prepare solo and group performances of notated music and improve both solo improvising and extemporising in groups, whilst appreciating different performing situations. Performing needs to be to a minimum grade III standard. You will compose and notate your own music, on your own, using Sibelius or Logic. It requires a complete understanding of the notation of music on paper or using ICT.   You must be learning an instrument or be able to sing for your performances. You may also be entered for a theory examination.

What about exams?

There is one exam lasting 1 hour and 45 minutes, during the final summer term. You will listen to a CD and answer short questions on the set works which cover popular music, classical music (past and present) and music from around the world. There will also be a longer essay style question which will require you to compare one of the set works with a unfamiliar piece of music.

Is there any coursework?

Yes. You will submit two performances. One of the pieces will be a solo in any style and on any instrument/voice. The other performance may be one of your own compositions but must be a piece which will include other players. These performances may take place in the classroom, in a school concert, in school music groups or outside school.

You will also submit two compositions, one according to a brief written by the exam board, relating to one of the areas of study; the other may be a free composition. You may alternatively arrange an existing piece of music for other instruments.

Music at KS5

What kind of student is this course suitable for?

Anyone who has a keen interest in creating and listening to different styles of music and who wishes to broaden their experience and deepen their understanding of both live and recorded music. It is useful to have taken music at GCSE level, but this is not essential as long as you can already play a musical instrument to grade 5 standard, read notation and have some understanding of music theory. The A level course will be taught over two years.

What will I learn on this A level course?

The course presents performing, composing, listening and analytical skills in almost equal measure. You will improve your skills in performing and composing in a range of styles. You will listen to and analyse a wide variety of music and develop a more informed appreciation of how and why it was written and/or performed.

The A level qualification consists of the following three units and are all externally assessed:

Unit 1: Performing 30%

You will perform:

  • a minimum of one piece, performed live and uninterrupted as a recital in front of an audience, during the second year of your course
  • performance can be solo or as part of an ensemble
  • total performance time across the recital must be a minimum of 8 minutes of Grade 6+ standard music

Unit 2: Composing 30%

Students must submit two compositions (both notated using Sibelius), of a combined duration of at least six minutes

  • one composition to a brief set by Pearson or a free composition, and one harmonisation of a Bach Chorale, set by Pearson

Unit 3: Developing Musical Understanding 40%

You will sit a listening/written exam including a musical dictation, listening questions based on aspects from 18 set works and essay questions, one based on an unfamiliar piece and the second on one of the set works.

The set works will be taken from the following categories:

Vocal, Instrumental, Music for Film, Popular Music and Jazz, Fusions and New Directions