Music

Here at St Margaret Ward Catholic Academy music is an important part of our everyday lives, curriculum and spiritual development. All students are given the opportunity to learn an instrument and through music lessons during years 7, 8 and 9, all students experience a wide range of musical activities and are introduced to a variety of musical genres.
We have a strong tradition of music beyond key stage three and offer both GCSE and A level music. Currently, option numbers are healthy and many students continue to study music to degree level and beyond. 
Past students have studied at Birmingham Conservatoire, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and Leeds College of Music.  Extra-curricular activities are at the heart of our department and students can experience and be part of a variety of tradition and non-traditional ensembles, including a School Choir, a Liturgy Music group, a School Orchestra and a highly successful Jazz Orchestra. 
 
In 2011 the Jazz Orchestra undertook their first European tour to Italy and in 2014 they went to Tuscany.  Along with our School Choir – Voicebox we are currently hoping to go on tour to Malgrat de Mar, Barcelona in 2016.
 
Our department holds an open door policy and is accessible to all students no matter of their musical background or ability. We want to make music available for all. It is not exclusive, it is not elitist…. It is for all! 
 
During Year 7 students will study and learn about Music through a variety of topics.  They will explore sounds and the elements of Music through our first Unit of work: Night and Day before exploring rhythm and note values through Unit 2: Rhythm and Pulse.  We will then focus on how music is created and composed through Form and Structure before learning about music from a different period of time.  Throughout the Summer term, students will focus on vocal skills through a unit of work called Voiceworks.  During lessons students will take part in a variety of musical activities enabling them to read, compose, perform and listen to and appraise their own and work of others.
 
In Year 8 students will continue to develop the performing and listening and appraising skills that they learnt during Year 7. They will use classroom instruments and music technology to improvise and compose their own music whilst learning about different periods of musical history.
 
During Year 9 students will continue to develop the performing, composing and listening and appraising skills that they learnt during Year 8.  Throughout the year they will use classroom instruments and music technology to continue to develop these skills whilst learning about different types of music including how music is composed for specific purposes and music from different cultures.
 
At GCSE level we follow the Edexcel Specification and throughout the GCSE Music course students will learn: how to improve their performing skills; how music is constructed from initial ideas through to the finished product; how to analyse music in a variety of styles and discover the social and historical context in which music has been composed over the last 400 years or so.
 
A Level Music builds on the skills that have been embedded in our students since Year 7.  It is taught as part of the Trinity Sixth Form and at this level we follow the AQA Specification.
 
Key Stage 3: 
During Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9, students receive a 50 minute lesson of Music each week. During Year 8 we focus on skill based projects, which enable students to learn keyboard skills, whilst performing and composing their own music and existing musical materials.  Year 9 Music lessons focus on learning about music from different cultures and its place in both society and its links with the media. We also prepare students for GCSE Music.
 
Key Stage 4: 
GCSE Music is a popular option for students in Years 10 and 11 and we follow the Edexcel specification. Students have three timetabled periods a week and in addition all pupils are recommended to take instrumental lessons outside the classroom as this greatly supports their work in this subject. 
The Edexcel GCSE Music course is divided into three areas – listening and appraising, composition and performing. Listening and appraising carries 40% of the total marks, the other two areas 30% each. The composition and performing papers are both on-going coursework modules; the listening paper is sat during the examination period in the Summer of Year 11. 
The listening paper is the only written examination. It involves listening to short extracts of music, and then answering questions on the three set works in each of the four Areas of Study. These cover popular music, classical music and music from around the world. Students will be introduced to musical styles from the seventeenth century to the present day in the Western European tradition, traditional and contemporary folk music, varied popular styles of the last hundred years and music from other cultures and traditions. 
Composing provides an outlet for creativity, because there is no restriction on the style in which students write. The ability to compose clearly structured pieces with control of various musical elements will need to be shown and composing will also give a greater insight into the composition of masterpieces of all styles. A portfolio of two of the students’ own compositions or arrangements is submitted to the Board in May. 
The performing section of the exam gives an opportunity for both solo and ensemble playing – and clearly presupposes an ability to play an instrument. Students will be assessed on two pieces (one solo and one ensemble) which may be recorded at any time during the course and may be performed in any style and on any instrument. This section is assessed internally and moderated by the Board.
 
Key Stage 5: 
At Key Stage 5 we are part of the Trinity Sixth Form and study the AQA Syllabus. 
The AQA Music course at both AS and A2 level is designed to build on the range of listening, performing and composing activities covered in GCSE music (though it is not a prerequisite that a candidate has actually taken the GCSE course). It is hoped that, by the end of each stage (AS and A2), candidates will have gained a greater understanding of the ‘how' and ‘what' in various styles and pieces of music and have had the experience of putting this into action as a performer and composer. Students are exposed to a reasonably broad spectrum of music and can perform in a style most appropriate to their experience and skill, but they should be aware that there will be a focus in a number of the ‘units' on the detailed study of classical ‘art' music repertoire. For all candidates it is recommended that they are at a standard at least equivalent to grade 5 in both Practical and Theory. 
 
There are three components. All assessed at both AS (Yr 12) and A2 (Yr 13) level: 
Performing: Interpreting Musical Ideas (AS: 40%; A2: 30%) 
Composing: Creating & Developing Musical Ideas (AS: 30%; A2: 30%) 
Listening & Understanding: Influences on Music & its context (AS: 30%; A2: 40%)