Head of Department: Ms Laidlaw

“Music is a more potent instrument than any other for education, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul.”

– Plato


“Whoever has skill in music is of good temperament and fitted for all things. We must teach music in schools.”

Martin Luther


Key stage 3 curriculum

Our aim at AGFS is to ensure that every student should gain the necessary skills to be a good rounded musician. They are given the opportunity to create, perform and critique music from around the world and various genres. Above all, their experience of music making should be fun, challenging and exciting.


Year 7:


Content covered

What is being assessed in the end of term exam

Term 1

Vocally Elementary

To encourage students to use their voices effectively, this unit is designed so that students use only their voices and sounds available to them through body percussion. During this unit students will understand and recognise the Elements of Music: Pitch, Tempo, Dynamics, Duration, Texture, Timbre, Articulation and Silence. They will draw on the Elements of Music as a resource when composing, creating and improvising and use the Elements of Music effectively when performing and singing. They will also develop the skills to be able to recognise the Elements of Music when listening to and appraising music from different times and different places.

A listening and appraising paper and a composition/performance of a workshopped piece demonstrating use of the musical elements. Year 7 also learn a song as a whole choir for our awards evening and are given credit for doing so.

Term 2

Form and Structure

This unit begins by establishing what is “Form and Structure” in music and why Form and Structure is important. Through performing, composing, improvising and listening and appraising, students explore four different musical structures: Question and Answer Phrases, Binary Form, Ternary Form and Rondo Form.


Students begin by exploring Question and Answer phrases as one of the simplest types of musical structures, relating this to Call and Response singing and how musical Question and Answer phrases balance with each other to form a complete structure. Binary and Ternary Forms are then explored with an emphasis on how musical contrast is achieved between “A” and “B” sections revising the Elements of Music. Rondo Form is explored as a type of recurring musical structure with pupils adding pentatonic improvisations.


Throughout the unit students listen to examples of music structured in Binary, Ternary and Rondo Forms and an emphasis is placed on revising treble clef notation studied in term 1.

Completion of a composition brief set with a partner that allows students to demonstrate their understanding of structure as well as using music notation.

Term 3

Music is Science


During this unit, students are given the opportunity to study acoustic/orchestral instruments in depth and discover and experiment with instrumental capabilities and timbre, they will also study the science of sound relating to these four orchestral families.


Students will also be given the opportunity to try the instruments looked at and discover how much a musician contributes to the production of sound as well as the integral elements of the instrument needed to create a distinctive timbre.



Listening & Appraising/Written paper on the science of instruments and instrumental recognition. An “Apprentice” style task to be delivered to the class about a given instrumental family.




Year 8:


Content covered

What is being assessed in the end of term exam

Term 1

Rhythms of the World


This unit aims to increase students’ awareness of the importance of pulse as a fundamental upon which music is built and performed, develop a feeling for and awareness of a regular pulse and be able to distinguish between rhythm and pulse and how rhythmic patterns can be built over a pulse. They will also learn about note values, bars and notation.


Students will learn to recognise, perform and create African music ad Samba with an understanding of musical conventions and processes. They will explore different rhythmic processes used in percussion music: cyclic rhythms, polyrhythms, syncopation and call and response and apply these to own composition and performance activities. They will listen to a range of different world music’s, identifying characteristic musical features and perform as part of a group in a whole class performance.


A Listening and appraising paper covering all three areas looked at during the unit and a composition/performance in the style of one of the genres studied during the unit.

Term 2

Jazz Improvisation


This unit develops students’ understanding of bass lines and chords as a harmonic foundation upon which a melody can be constructed upon and as a foundation for improvisation. Students begin by learning about the history, origin and development of the Blues and its characteristic 12-bar Blues structure exploring how a walking bass line is developed from a chord progression.


They also explore the effect of adding a melodic improvisation using the Blues scale and the effect which “swing” rhythms have as used in jazz and blues music. Students are introduced to seventh chords and how these are formed, and their characteristic sound used in jazz and blues music and examine the lyrics of blues songs before composing their own set of lyrics for a performance of their blues song using different textural layers. Finally, students explore Ragtime Music as a type of jazz examining how chords have been used differently in a “vamp” style.

Composition/performance of a jazz piece of music demonstrating the elements of jazz learned through the unit.


Term 3

 Textures and Timbres of World Music


Students will learn about the sounds of Indian music and some of its components such as raga, drone and tala and will be able to distinguish the influence of Indian music on a range of Western music. They will build on previous experience of improvising and learn to improvise melodically on a raga and rhythmically on a tala.


They will then move on to learn about the origins of Gamelan music and where and when it is performed. They will study the timbre/sounds and some of the different instruments which make up a Gamelan and the roles of each instrument in the form and structure of the music. Finally, they will lean about the interlocking melodies in Gamelan and how these are repeated to form cyclic melodies.


The final area of world music to be studied is the recognition of the stylistic conventions of reggae music; how chords contribute to the texture of a song and to recognise the key features of a reggae bass line they will also understand syncopation and how it is a common feature in reggae music.

A listening & Appraising style exam based around the three genres studied and a composition /performance task to be completed in small groups.


Year 9:


Content covered

What is being assessed in the end of term exam

Term 1

Art & Music


During this unit students learn how art has been used as a stimulus for musical composition and look in depth at Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition”.  They respond to art by creating own piece of music inspired by a picture or photo using the elements of music.


Students then go on to look at the Minimalist movement. They learn about the key musical features of minimalist music and how it is constructed, about the use of repetitive and changing rhythmic and melodic motifs in different styles of minimalist music and how to combine and manipulate different motifs when performing and composing a piece of minimalist music.

A listening & appraising exam based on the two areas of the topic covered accompanied by a performance of a minimalist piece, aimed at displaying minimalist techniques.

Term 2

Past – Present


  1. begin by learning about the concept of Ground Bass, as a type of Variation Form, and performing Pachelbel’s “Canon” on the keyboards before looking at how Ground Bass has been used in popular songs.


Later in the unit, students will be introduced to music technology as a way of composing and arranging music through the program Logic. They will arrange Pachelbel’s Canon into their own club dance remix using the conventions studied in the lessons.

Mid way through the term students will be assessed on their performances of Pachelbel’s Canon. At the end of the unit they will be assessed on their modern arrangement of the piece using music technology.

Term 3

Music of the Stage and Screen



During this unit students learn about the history and development of the modern-day stage musical with its origins in opera through the study of different types of songs used in operas and musicals. They then go on to learn about the  importance of the “opening number” in a musical.

In the second part of the term, students look at how film soundtrack composers use sound effects, leitmotifs, themes and instrumentation together with tools such as cue sheets and storyboard to assist their planning of a film soundtrack and how film music can change the viewer’s interpretation of a scene.

A performance/composition based on ne of the areas studied during the unit.


Key stage 3 revision

Students should have a good solid knowledge of keywords and can use their lesson resources to help prepare them for theory exams. Students should also be practicing the instrumental skills they learn in lessons as all assessments will have a practical focus.


Key stage 4 curriculum

The GCSE Music curriculum is broken into three strands of performing (30%), composing (30%) and listening and appraising (40%). Students must be confident enough to perform on a solo instrument and must commit to take peripatetic lessons.

Students will study the Edexcel GCSE Music Specification over Year 10 and Year 11.


  • 1 solo performance 15%
  • 1 ensemble performance 15%


  • 1 free composition in any genre 15%
  • 1 composition from a given brief 15%

All coursework is to be completed during Year 11, so students will begin their work on these units in Year 10.

Listening and Appraising:

Written exam on eight pieces and listening extracts from four areas of study

  1. Classical Music from 1750-1820
  2. Vocal Music
  3. Music for Stage and Screen
  4. Fusion


Year 10:



What is being assessed in the end of term exam

Term 1

Music for Stage and Screen


Students will be expected to perform a solo piece on their main instrument or voice.


Students will study compositional skills: chord construction and sequences, cadences, structure and instrumentation

Listening and Appraising

Students will study the two set pieces from this genre: “Music for a While” and “Killer Queen”. Related listening to further contextualise the genre will be studied to recognise key features of the genre.


Solo performance



Basic composition techniques


Listening and appraising of two set works

Term 2

Vocal Music


Students will rehearse and perform in an ensemble situation


Students will complete their “free” composition in a genre of their choosing.

Listening and Appraising

Students will study the two set pieces from this genre: “Defying Gravity” from the musical Wicked and “Main Title/Rebel Blockade Runner”. Related listening to further contextualise the genre will be studied to recognise key features of the genre.





Ensemble performance


Free composition draft 1


Listening and appraising, four set works

Term 3



Students will perform a traditional West African piece on djembes as part of a class ensemble as well as developing their own instrumental studies further in instrumental lessons and workshops.


Students will study compositional techniques specific to the four areas of study in preparation for the free brief composition.

Listening and Appraising

Students will study the two set pieces from this genre: “Release” and “Samba”. Related listening to further contextualise the genre will be studied to recognise key features of the genre.




Solo performance


Completion of free composition


Listening and appraising of 6 set works and unfamiliar listening


Year 11:



What is being assessed in the end of term exam

Term 1

Instrumental Music 1700–1820


Students will work in small ensembles to rehearse their final performance of their ensemble piece.


Students will select a brief set by the exam board and compose a piece of music to adhere to the brief.

Listening and Appraising

Students will study the two set pieces from this genre:

  • JS Bach: 3rd Movement from Brandenburg Concerto no. 5 in D major
  • L van Beethoven: 1st Movement from Piano Sonata no. 8 in C minor ‘Pathétique’

Related listening to further contextualize the genre will be studied to recognize key features of the genre.




Ensemble performance


Brief composition


Full listening and appraising

Term 2

Completion of Coursework


Students will work with their instrumental teacher to rehearse and perform their final solo performance.


Students will work in controlled conditions to complete both their compositions.

Listening and Appraising

Students will re-visit each of the 8 set works and will complete practice exam papers and essay questions to prepare for the written exam.




Final solo and ensemble performance


Final brief composition


Full listening and appraising

Term 3


  1. this point in the year the performance and composition coursework will have been submitted to the exam board for moderation.


Listening and Appraising

Students will re-visit each of the 8 set works and will complete practice exam papers and essay questions to prepare for the written exam





GCSE examination


Key stage 4 revision

Students should be using textbooks, online resources, and lesson resources to prepare for their listening and appraising GCSE exam. Students will also have access to knowledge organizers to help with revision. For the practical component, students should be practicing at least three times a week.



Written feedback is given every 5-6 lessons as a minimum and verbal feedback is given every lesson. Students received personalised individual feedback on coursework components in KS4 and written feedback on theory work and summative assessments.


Ambition and careers

A GCSE in Music can provide many desirable skills that are looked highly upon by employers, such as: commitment, resilience, teamwork and dedication. A GCSE in Music compliments other subjects and can lead to an A Level or BTEC in Music, Music technology, Music production or performing arts.


Enrichment and Drop Down Days


Year group

Lunchtime 1:15pm

After School 4pm/3:10pm













Year 11 Intervention



Alternative Orchestra