Music is an extremely busy department and we pride ourselves on providing challenging opportunities for students of all abilities. The curriculum is extremely varied with an emphasis on learning through practical activities. The Music department wishes to make Music accessible to all. In particular, we strive to promote independence and persistence during rehearsals and composing tasks allowing students to take responsibility for their own performances and as a result, opening up performance opportunities that build a sense of confidence and pride.

The Music department also prides itself in providing a comprehensive range of extra-curricular activities and performance opportunities for all. It also recognises the need to really stretch and challenge the most able students. Extra-curricular groups are not fixed and tend to change each term depending on what events are coming up but there is currently a Jazz Band, a choir, a production orchestra and numerous music clubs which allow students to work on their own music. There is one full scale production of a musical staged at The Barnfield Theatre in Exeter each year, the annual Carol Service, a musical extravaganza named ‘Festival on the Field’ which runs alongside Sports Day and usually an open air summer concert or production in our amphitheatre.

The Music department is committed to individualised learning at all levels where it provides a number of different levels of task at KS3, individual performance and composing styles at GCSE and a range of options of unit choices at BTEC level.

The facilities in the Music Department include two purpose-built teaching rooms with adjoining practise rooms to allow quieter rehearsal space. There is a range of instruments for students use including two drum kits, two PA systems, amplifiers, electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitars, Samba band percussion, keyboards and a large range of percussion instruments. One of the Music rooms is equipped with seven PCs installed with Sibelius and Cubase software with midi keyboards and headphones to allow students to multi track their compositions. There are also two iPads with docking stations to allow students to record their electrical instruments into various music composition apps including Garageband.

The Music department works extremely closely with the Drama department to ensure students have a consistent learning experience within the Performing Arts. This also allows far more opportunity for sharing of good practice and an ability to widen the extra-curricular experience and community links.

Ms E Williams Head of Performing Arts

Year 7 begin with an emphasis on performing short compositions using a variety of different instruments including keyboards and percussion. Their first lessons cover the elements of both before work starts on the projects of Opera and African Storytelling.

Year 8 projects include Gamelan, Blues, Indian Music and 20th century composing techniques. Students also learn to use composing software to compose a short sequence for a film soundtrack.

Year 9 cover Mozart, Samba, Rock, Reggae and Dance Music. Students will use a range of instruments including Samba percussion, drum kit, electric guitar, bass guitar and keyboards. They will also further their knowledge of Music Technology.

All KS3 lessons include different practical musical activities in the three skills of Listening, Performing and Composing.

Students can opt to take GCSE Music and currently follow the AQA GCSE syllabus. This course allows students to compose and perform in their own chosen style on the instrument of their choice as well as experiencing music from a whole range of styles and cultures through listening, theoretical and practical work.



Written Paper – 1 hour and 30 mins – 96 marks – 40%

Section A: Listening – unfamiliar music (68 marks)

Section B: Study pieces (28 marks)


This paper will concentrate on your listening ability, ability to read and write musical notation and the theoretical knowledge which you have built up during the course. You will also be assessed on your knowledge of the set works. There will be a CD of listening excerpts and a written question paper.


Internally assessed, externally moderated – 72 marks – 30%


Each student will perform two pieces. You will perform more than that during the course but we will choose the best two pieces for submission.

  1. One Solo Performance
  2. One Ensemble Performance lasting at least one minute.

The total time for both performances must be at least four minutes.

You will have to submit musical scores or tab for each performance.

You will need to submit you work as a recording and musical score/annotation


Internally assessed, externally moderated – 72 marks – 30%

A portfolio of two compositions need to be completed with a total of at least three minutes of music composed.

Composition 1: Composition to a brief (36 marks)

Composition 2: Free Composition (36 marks)

You will need to submit you work as a recording and musical score/annotation.

Practical, vocational based BTEC courses are offered for 6th formers and they can opt to take Performing Arts at Level 3 National Certificate or Music (Performing) at either National Certificate level (equivalent in UCAS points to AS) or National Extended Certificate level (equivalent in UCAS points to A2).

The units taken allow a flexible approach and students can focus on the areas of performance that interest them and capitalise on their strengths. Both courses offer extensive performance opportunities at local venues such as Exeter Phoenix, Barnfield Theatre, Cygnet Theatre and many other local concert venues.

The Music department organises a number of trips, visits and workshops which include Glyndebourne Opera Experience, Devon Schools Mix at Westpoint and other theatre and concert trips.

Each year, the College presents a challenging stage musical at the Barnfield Theatre, Exeter. This annual production is a highlight of the school calendar and the standard is always extremely high. Music students of any age can choose to be in the orchestra, in the cast or help backstage.

Previous productions include Sweet CharityLes Misérables School Edition, Sweeney Todd and the south west premiere of The Addams Family, Into the Woods, Bugsy Malone, The Battle of Boat, Annie and Our House.

Students are also encouraged to take part in the various events that occur in the school calendar such as the annual Carol Service, ‘Festival on the Field,’ assembly performances and other performance opportunities that occur throughout the year.

Music groups include the Jazz Band, various vocal groups and the production orchestra but students are also encouraged to form their own bands and groups and write their own music and rehearsal space for this is provided where possible.