Music at Sir Thomas Rich's

“The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is practice”
--Vladimir Horowitz, pianist

Music is the study of the integrated skills of performing, composing and listening. When you play an instrument or sing you draw on a group of cognitive skills: thinking, controlling (fine motor skills), analysing and reading as well as more instinctive and emotional abilities relating to imagination, perception and creative understanding. Rarely is such a wide range of skills and abilities present in one activity.


Head of Department:
Department Teaching Staff:

Key Stage 3 - Years 8 & 9

Teaching Arrangements: In years 7, 8 and 9 all boys are taught music each week in a double lesson.
Homework Guidance: Music homework is set weekly and should take no more than half an hour to complete.
Assessment Arrangements: 5 key processes will be assessed:
Singing
Playing
Improvising
Composing
Listening
Assessments will typically take place at the end of a unit of work and during examination week using the generic assessment criteria:
Developing levels 1-4
Students will sing with their group but may lack the refinement expected. When composing, students will use the harmonic and rhythmic devices suggested by the teacher. During improvisation tasks, students will use simple ideas effectively. It may well be repetitive. Students will play an instrument with enjoyment, and will perform when supported by the teacher. Students will be able to ask for help and feedback but may struggle to act upon this feedback. Students will use ideas, both as a composer and when giving feedback, modelled by the teacher rather than developing their own creative voice.

Secure levels 5-6
Students will sing confidently with musical expression in their groups and may attempt harmonies. When composing, students will attempt to use harmonic techniques and structures which have been explored throughout KS3. During improvisation tasks, students will use appropriate phrasing, either vocally or on an instrument, which may in turn be used in composition. Students will play an independent part on an instrument in an ensemble with increasing confidence and fluency. Students will be able to identify areas for improvement, using musical keywords. Students will be motivated and will engage in purposeful rehearsal techniques. They will show an emerging personal creative voice, which might not always be ‘musically correct’.

Extending levels 7-9
Students will sing with confidence as a soloist, or creating effective harmonies, without support from the teacher. When composing, students will use a range of effective techniques, some of which they will have picked up from their own experience of performance, and listening. During improvisation tasks, students will demonstrate an awareness of mood and intended effect. Students will lead ensembles and create convincing cover versions of songs we study, putting their own creative, personal stamp on each piece. Students will discuss and critique their own work in a musical manner and demonstrate a range of creative responses to musical starting points. They will be actively involved in extra-curricular activities both in, and outside school, and will use their musical experience within their work in the classroom.
Topics Covered:
Year 7
  • Musical Elements
    An exploration of the building blocks of music: Pitch, Duration, Texture, Timbre, Harmony, Tempo, Dynamics, Attack and Decay
  • Keyboard skills
    All pupils develop their keyboard skills either as novices or experienced pianists whilst developing their note reading skills.
  • Medieval Music
    An exploration of the origins of music as we know it today, examining medieval instruments and techniques such as organum, drone and ostinato.
  • The Orchestra
    An exploration of timbre and life as an orchestral musician through performing great orchestral music as a class orchestra
  • Impressionism
    An exploration of the music of Debussy and Impressionist art, examining different types of scales and the influence of the East.
  • Voice works
    Pupils learn to control their voices whilst singing a variety of songs and learn to construct chords to accompany their singing
Year 8
  • Film Music
    An exploration of how music reflects moods and enhances the visual image.
  • Blues
    Pupils develop a knowledge of how the slave trade effected the development of music and learn to construct chords, play the 12 bar blues sequence and improvise using the blues scale.
  • World Music Fusion
    Pupils develop a knowledge of musical features common to different cultures including improvisation, drone, ostinato and the pentatonic scale, composing a piece of World Music Fusion using techniques from different musical traditions.
  • Going Solo
    In this unit pupils explore the different roles of soloist and accompanist in a variety of musical styles from the classical concerto through to rock music. Instrumentalists are also given an opportunity to be assessed playing a solo on their main instrument.
  • Space Music
    Using Holst’s Planets Suite and Also Sprach Zarathustra by Strauss as a starting point, pupils explore how space and the solar system is depicted in music.
Year 9
  • Pachelbel Canon
    Pupils develop further their knowledge of chords to include inversions of chords and explore the use of ground bass from the Baroque period through to modern music.
  • Theme and Variation
    Using Mahler Symphony No 1 and America by Ives as a starting point, pupils learn theme and variation techniques.
  • Covers
    Pupils explore how the musical elements can be used to produce their own unique cover version of an original song.
  • Song Writing
    Building on the skills learnt in the Covers unit, pupils compose on their own songs, exploring harmony, structure and word setting.
  • Minimalism
    In this unit pupils explore minimalist composing techniques, studying composers including Reich, Glass and Oldfield. Pupils also explore minimalism in modern electronic music.
  • Music and Media
    Pupils explore how music can used for product identity in advertising.

The main aim of music education at STRS is to foster pupils' sensitivity to, and their understanding and enjoyment of music through an active involvement in listening, composing and performing.

Teaching Arrangements: GCSE music is taught over 4 periods in both years 10 and 11. The lessons are typically divided into two single lessons and one double (coursework) lesson.
Homework Guidance: All GCSE Music students are expected to practice their instruments daily for Component 1 Performing. Year 10 and 11 students will be set two 30 minute homework activities each week.
Assessment Arrangements: Component 1 Performing and Component 2 Composing are both Non Examined Assessments, each carrying 30% of the final GCSE grade. Component 3 Appraising is worth 40% of the final GCSE grade and is assessed through an externally examined 1 hour and 45 minute written paper.
Exam Specification: Edexcel GCSE Topics Covered:
Year 10
Introduction to GCSE Music
The GCSE course consists of three separate components:
Component 1 Performing (30% of GCSE grade)
Component 2 Composing (30% of GCSE grade)
Component 3 Appraising (40% of GCSE grade)
Component 1
As part of the introduction to the course exemplar performances are studied and the assessment criteria is made familiar to the students. Progress as a performer will be monitored as required. Students will listen to performances by established performers to establish how they achieve communication. Discussion of difficulty levels to aid the selection of the final pieces to be prepared for year 10 assessed performance.
Component 2
As part of the introduction to the course, exemplar compositions are studied and the assessment criteria become familiar to the students. The initial focus will be on the development of musical material by using established conventions and techniques. Attention will then move to compositional techniques and strategies: To focus on writing for instruments and/or voices and/or technology so that the writing is appropriately idiomatic. Activities will include: writing music for other students to perform on their instruments; studying the way others have written for specific instruments; exploring composition that uses only timbral effects; familiarisation with software packages. To focus on and understanding of the principles of rhythmic, melodic and harmonic construction and the working of form and structure. Activities will include: compositions that isolate the musical elements of rhythm and/or melody and/or harmony to assess how effectively they can be manipulated; harmonising melodies using simple triads; creating a composition using ostinato; exploration of the uses of these elements in the music. This work will culminate in the completion of a ‘free’ composition at the end of year 10.
Component 3
This introduction will include activities to help build the basic knowledge of musical elements, musical contexts and musical language needed to embark on the course.
Component 3: Vocal Music set works
H. Purcell: ‘Music for a While’
Study will include a general introduction to Baroque Music and to the wider music of Purcell. Compositions using a ground bass could be explored, noting the relationship between the melodic line and the bass. The theatrical nature of Purcell’s songs should be explored, alongside his setting of the text – what do the words mean and how has he chosen to set them?
Queen: ‘Killer Queen’ (from the album Sheer Heart Attack)
Study will include a general introduction to the structure of pop songs and the wider music and influence of Queen. Compositions using a verse and chorus structure could be explored, noting how well the changing words for verses are accommodated by their single melodic line. The overall setting of the text will be explored.
Vocal Music wider listening: This is an opportunity to broaden the study of the setting of texts for solo voice and accompaniment. The structure of the text and the music will be explored, as will a variety of song forms. Students will be encouraged to analyse the music they listen to for leisure
Component 3: Instrumental Music 1700–1820 set works (part one)
J.S. Bach: 3rd Movement from Brandenburg Concerto no.5 in D major
This piece enables the exploration of fugal writing, dance movements (such as gigue), and performance practise in older music. The nature of Baroque instrumental music will be explored through this music.
Component 3: Instrumental Music 1700–1820 wider listening
This wider listening is designed to place the set works in clearer context. Initially study should include other examples of Baroque concertos for one or more soloists, such as those of Handel and Vivaldi.
Component 3: Instrumental Music 1700–1820 set works (part two)
L. van Beethoven: 1st Movement from Piano Sonata no.8 in C minor ‘Pathétique’
Building on the wider listening the exploration of this set work can look at the development of sonata form into a larger structure, and act as an introduction to 19th-century Romanticism. The use and development of musical ideas will be explored, including the use of repetition, variation and motivic development, as well as the use of tonality.
Component 3: Music for Stage and Screen wider listening (part one)
Building on the study of vocal music in the earlier area of study, similar exploration will be made of songs written for a dramatic context in musicals. In particular the way that music enhances the dramatic action will be explored.
S. Schwartz ‘Defying Gravity’ (from the album of the cast recording of Wicked)
Students will investigate how the musical language and musical elements combine in this song to fit its dramatic context. How successful is the song? Is it placed at a suitable moment in the show to fit the dramatic pace? How do the musical elements combine to create a sense of climax?
Component 3: Music for Stage and Screen wider listening (part one)
A variety of pieces will be studied to demonstrate how music can create a mood, character or image. Wider exploration of the use of music in TV programmes and films should show how music manipulates the audience. A number of contemporary film scores will be studied to see how they create mood and atmosphere.
Component 3: Music for Stage and Screen set works (part two)
J. Williams: ‘Main title/rebel blockade runner’ (from the soundtrack to Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope)
Students will investigate the musical language and musical elements combine in this music to fit its dramatic context. How successful is the music? How do the musical elements combine to create the right mood and atmosphere? How does the music remain coherent?
Year 11
Component 1: Performing
Progress as a performer to be monitored as required. Ensemble performances discussed and prepared. Both solo and ensemble final performances will be recorded.
Component 2: Free composition
Review, refine and record the free composition started at the end of Year One.
Component 2: Technical control and coherence: working to a set brief
To focus on the composition briefs gaining initial ideas about their demands and the musical outcomes expected. Based on the previous work, composition to a set brief should be carefully planned from the outset and gradually developed to meet its stated purpose and intention. The composition will then be reviewed, refined and recorded.
Component 3: Revision of Year One material
Component 3: Fusions wider listening (part one)
Having explored how music can create mood and atmosphere, this will then be extended to explore how music can create recognisable national/regional characteristics. The use of musical elements and language to create such styles will be explored. Styles that might be encountered include music from sub-Saharan Africa, Scotland, Ireland, Latin America and Turkey etc.
Component 3: Fusions set works
Afro Celt Sound System: ‘Release’ (from the album Volume 2: Release)
This music combines contemporary dance styles with traditional Irish and African music. What elements of each are present? How effectively are they combined and is the fusion successful?
Esperanza Spalding: ‘Samba Em Preludio’ (from the album Esperanza)
This artist is famous for using an eclectic range of musical styles. What influences can be detected in this piece? Are they combined to create an effective end product?
Component 3: Fusions wider listening (part two)
Having studied a variety of individual styles and the way styles can be fused in the set works other similar fusions will be explored, such as traditional Scottish/folk/rock, rock/African, Jazz/Latin/pop, Turkish etc. How successful are such fusions? What do they say about the context in which they were created?
Revision

GCSE Music helps to develop musical knowledge, understanding and skills through studying a wide range of music from different cultures.

Entry Requirements: A GCSE Grade 7 in Music and grade 7 or equivalent on your principal instrument is required to study this course
Teaching Arrangements: A level music lessons are taught in two parallel groups for eight periods per week.
Homework Guidance: For both Year 12 & Year 13, not less than 3 hours per night (45 minutes per subject) or 15 hours per week outside private study time.
Assessment Arrangements: Component 1 Performing and Component 2 Composing are both Non Examined Assessments, each carrying 30% of the final A level grade. Component 3 Appraising is worth 40% of the final GCSE grade and is assessed through an externally examined 2 hour written paper.
Exam Specification: Edexcel A-Level Music Topics Covered:
Year 12
Introduction to A level Music
The A level course consists of three separate components:
Component 1 Performing (30% of A level grade)
Component 2 Composing (30% of A level grade)
Component 3 Appraising (40% of A level grade)

Introduction to the course: building on knowledge and experience at GCSE, consolidating basic musical vocabulary and knowledge.
• studying exemplar performances and compositions
• looking at the assessment criteria for the coursework tasks. Preparation for the performance and composing component will be ongoing
Free composition, Vocal Music, performance
Free composition inspirations and task setting:
•discussing possible routes into free composition, based on GCSE experiences
• providing examples and guidance towards inspirations
Vocal Music:
J.S. Bach, Cantata, Ein feste Burg, BWV 80: Movements 1, 2 and 8
Mozart, The Magic Flute: Act 1 Nos. 4 and 5
•Explore these pieces by using the students’ knowledge and understanding of musical elements, musical contexts and musical language to make critical judgements about the music.
•Once each piece has been studied, comparative and evaluative skills will be practised between the two.
•This area of study is diverse but coverage at this stage will reflect Baroque and Classical approaches to vocal music.
Vaughan Williams, On Wenlock Edge: Nos. 1, 3 and 5
Wider listening will include Baroque, Classical and Romantic choral music. Schubert and Fanny Mendelssohn lieder, and extracts from operas by Verdi and Wagner.
Instrumental Music:
Vivaldi, Concerto in D Minor, Op. 3 No. 11
Clara Schumann, Piano Trio in G minor, Op.17: Movement 1
Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique: Movement 1
•Explore these pieces by using the students’ knowledge and understanding of musical elements, musical contexts and musical language to make critical judgements about the music.
•Once each piece has been studied, comparative and evaluative skills can be practised between the two.
•This area of study is diverse but coverage at this stage will reflect Baroque and 19th-century approaches to instrumental music.
•Wider listening will include examples of movements from Classical and Romantic symphonies, chamber music and other instrumental works.
Year 13
Thorough revision of areas of study from Year 12
Music for Film:
Danny Elfman, Batman Returns excerpts
•Wider listening across a range of film styles will reinforce the study of Music for Film.
Bernard Herrmann, Psycho excerpts
Rachel Portman, The Duchess excerpts
•Once each piece has been studied comparative and evaluative skills will be practised between the two.
Composition briefs assessing technique, performance
Free composition is ongoing. Revise, refine, complete and record free composition.
Preparation for the performance component is ongoing. Record final performance.
Preparatory exercises towards composition to a brief assessing technique. Complete and record composition to a brief assessing technique.
Popular Music and Jazz:
The Beatles: selected songs from Revolver
Courtney Pine: selected songs from Back in the Day
Kate Bush: selected songs from Hounds of Love
•Once each piece has been studied, comparative and evaluative skills will be practised between them.
•Wider listening these pieces within a context of jazz and popular music in the second half of the 20th and the 21st centuries.
Fusions:
Debussy, Estampes: Nos. 1 and 2
Anoushka Shankar: Breathing under water selected tracks
Familia Valera Miranda: Caña quema selected songs
•Once they have been studied, comparative and evaluative skills will be practised between them.
•Wider listening will build on the GCSE study of fusions among music of different styles.
New Directions:
Cage, Three Dances for two prepared pianos: No. 1
Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring excerpts
Saariaho, Petals
Once each piece has been studied, comparative and evaluative skills will be practised between them.
•Wider listening will explore pieces in Western music that have attempted new and innovative ideas, or carried such ideas to new extremes or new audiences.

Revise areas of study.

A level Music engages and extends appreciation of the diverse and dynamic heritage of music, promotes spiritual and cultural development, encourages life-long learning and provides access to music-related and other careers.

University courses this subject may be required for or lead onto: Music degrees: usually a BA (hons) or B Mus (hons) can be studied at university (apply through UCAS) or music college (early entry through CUKAS). Entry requirements typically include A level Music and ABRSM grade 8 on your principal instrument or equivalent.
Typical modules include composing, orchestrating, performing, analysing, conducting, studio use, admin and musicology.
Music degrees are challenging and multi-faceted, so foster very diverse skills: critical thinking, team work, delivering presentations, multi-tasking, admin, conducting, and detailed analysis. These are skills highly valued by employers in diverse professions.
Careers that Music may lead onto:
  • Music therapist
  • Musician
  • Private music teacher
  • Secondary school teacher
  • Sound technician, broadcasting/film/video
  • Arts administrator
  • Broadcast engineer
  • Community arts worker
  • Event manager
  • PPC specialist
  • Radio broadcast assistant
  • Radio producer
  • Theatre stage manager

“A level Music is great fun and allows you to express your inner creative self. It also provides skills that are useful in other contexts as well as preparing you for further music education”
“A level Music was important in laying down the foundations of what I now study at Music College. Beyond theory, it gave me the confidence and occasions to perform to my peers. A creative environment with strong encouragement provided many opportunities to lead and learn.”
“Studying A level music gives us great opportunities to write and perform to peers in a safe environment. The skills we develop will not only help me in the classroom, but will shape the way I listen to, write and perform music""

GCSE and A level students have the opportunity to attend live performances of set works being studied as well as attend related workshops and seminars, for example the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra A level music seminars . KS3 students take part in workshops related to the KS3 curriculum including African drumming and Medieval music workshops.
School Music
There are termly Evening Concerts and regular Jazz Nights, House Music and the Choir performs in assembly and at our annual Carol Services at St Catharine’s and Longlevens Churches. Groups perform at the Cheltenham Music Festival and Citizenship Ceremonies. The music department regularly collaborates with the Drama department on productions.
Choir
Sir Thomas Rich’s School has a long history of Choral music.
Choir has a busy schedule, performing in all school concerts as well as other events such the Choral Concert, Carol Services and Evensong at Gloucester cathedral. The Choir also provides a platform for the more advanced singers to feature as soloists
Chamber Choir
The Chamber Choir provides a platform for the more advanced singers. Chamber Choir have a busy schedule, performing in all school concerts as well as other events such the Choral Concert, Carol Services and Citizenship Ceremonies. More recently, Chamber Choir were runners up in the School Choirs class at The Cheltenham Festival of Performing Arts.
Orchestra
Orchestra is aimed at musicians from grade 4 to grade 8. Orchestra has a busy schedule, performing in all school concerts as well as other events such accompanying the Choir in the Choral Concert. The Orchestra also provides a platform for the more advanced players to feature as soloists.
Brass group
Brass Group is aimed at musicians from grade 4 to grade 8. Brass Group has a busy schedule, performing in all school concerts as well as other events such as Brass Night.
String Group
String Group is aimed at more advanced musicians; typically grade 5 to grade 8.
String Group has a busy schedule, performing in all school concerts as well as competing in the Cheltenham Festival of Performing Arts. String Group has won the Norman Darke Memorial Challenge Cup for Chamber Music Playing four years running
Jazz Group
Jazz Band is aimed at musicians from grade 4 to grade 8. Jazz Band has a busy schedule, performing in all school concerts as well as other events such ‘Jazz it Up’ at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival; in 2014 they were lucky enough to play to Jamie Cullen. Jazz Band also feature in the popular ‘Jazz Night’