Music

We aim to promote the enjoyment and appreciation of music in all its forms through practical music-making and listening in the classroom and beyond.   Music has the ability to touch the soul of all people and is a truly international language.   It is an outlet for creativity and the expression of the individual.  The benefits of studying music and learning instruments for developing concentration and intellectual growth in all areas of education have been well documented.

Students are taught the written language of music through conventional and other notations and are encouraged to understand and appreciate musical styles from a variety of cultures and historical periods.   Practical music-making is at the heart of the curriculum but the opportunities for musical creativity through technology and computers are also encouraged from year 7 onwards.

Staff Names and Roles

  • Mrs P Parrans-Smith – Director of Music
  • Mr R McBrien – Teacher of Music

Useful Websites to support your son’s learning

BBC Bitesize

Virtual Keyboard

Music at Schools

Music Theory

Opportunities Outside of Lessons

We seek to give opportunities to all students to express themselves through music as well as appreciating and being moved by listening to other musicians.  Instrumental lessons are available to all students irrespective of financial means.   Tuition is available on all orchestral instruments plus saxophone, euphonium, drum-kit, dhol, tabla, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar, piano and singing

All students involved in instrumental lessons are encouraged to take part in at least one, sometimes several, of our extra-curricular ensembles.    Our main ensembles include Big Band, Concert Band, String Orchestra, Senior Dhol Group, Little Big Band, Training Band, Aston Choir and Acafellas and our Senior Chamber Ensemble for Grade 7+ musicians.

Developing musicianship through small chamber ensembles is an important theme of the department and the present ensembles include Senior Sax Quartet, Mixed Sax Ensemble, clarinet ensemble, flute group, trumpet ensemble, percussion group, string quartet, lower brass ensemble and a large acoustic guitar ensemble.

Jazz and improvisation is also encouraged through the senior Jazz Ensemble and also the Big Band and Little Big Band.

There is progression for most instruments through the ensembles as all instrumentalists are encouraged start playing in the Training Band after just a short time of starting on instrument.

Concerts are given regularly and there are also many opportunities for solo performances in the Informal concerts and other events such as the Young Musician of the Year Competition.

The senior bands (Big Band, Concert Band and String Orchestra) all go on a 5-day concert tour abroad every other year and have recently toured Belgium, Paris, Germany and, this year, Holland and Luxembourg.

The department puts on a musical each year with girls from King Edward VI Handsworth.  Recent productions at Aston have included Guys & Dolls, Les Miserables, Our House, West Side Story, Thrupenny Opera and Oliver.

Course information

BACK

YEAR 7

Music is taught through a range of activities including performing using Guitars and Keyboards, singing, composing in small groups, listening activities and theory notation work. The main topics for each term are listed below and most will involve using a selection of the above styles of learning. Some projects may also involve using the music computer software, Sibelius and Cubase.

Homework will consist of a range of activities including music theory, research of topics, written notation exercises and revision for tests. Computers may be useful for some of these, particularly research.

Autumn Term
  • Instruments of the Orchestra
  • Rythm & Pitch
Spring Term
  • Elements of Music
  • Chinese Music
Summer Term
  • Guitar Skills and Harmony
  • Using ICT in music
Common Assessment Tasks
Autumn Term
  • Performance Assessment
Spring Term
  • Composition Assessment
Summer Term
  • Performance  Assessment
Half Termly Assessment
  • September –Listening Test Assessment
  • February – Listening Test Assessment
  • June – Listening Test Assessment
You can help your son by
  • Assisting revision for tests
  • Enabling your son to practise rhythms and melodies on an instrument or computer programme/app
  • Using https://www.musictheory.net/ to improve basic theory knowledge
BACK

YEAR 8

Music is taught through a range of activities including performing on instruments, singing, composing in small groups, listening activities and theory notation work. The main topics for each term are listed below and most will involve using a selection of the above styles of learning. Some projects may also involve using music computer software.

Autumn Term 
  • Form and Structure
  • Jazz and Blues
Spring Term 
  • Elements of Music
  • Indian Music
Summer Term
  • Using Cubase to compose a pop song
  • Theme & Variation
 
Common Assessment Tasks
Autumn Term
  • Performance Assessment

Spring Term
  • Composition Assessment

Summer Term
  • Composition  Assessment

Half Termly Assessment
  • September –Listening Test Assessment
  • February – Listening Test Assessment
  • June – Listening Test Assessment

You can help your son by
  • Assisting revision for tests
  • Enabling your son to practise rhythms and melodies on an instrument or computer programme/app
  • Using https://www.musictheory.net/ to improve basic theory knowledge
BACK

YEAR 9

Music continues to be taught through a range of practical and listening activities. Composing is assessed through individual and group-based tasks throughout the year. There is an increase in use of computers for composing and arranging using the Sibelius score-writing programme and Cubase Essential four music sequencing programme.

Homework will include a variety of practical, research and written tasks in addition to revision for assessments.

Autumn Term 
  • Fanfares
  • Minimalism
Spring Term 
  • Elements of Music – Film Music project
Summer Term 
  • Composing & Performing a Pop Song
  • Music in the Media
Common Assessment Tasks
Autumn Term
  • Composition Assessment

Spring Term
  • Performance & Composition Assessment

Summer Term
  • Performance  Assessment

Half Termly Assessment
  • September –Listening Test Assessment
  • February – Listening Test Assessment
  • June – Listening Test Assessment

You can help your son by
  • Assisting revision for tests
  • Enabling your son to practise rhythms and melodies on an instrument or computer programme/app
  • Using https://www.musictheory.net/ to improve basic theory knowledge
BACK

YEAR 10

WJEC Eduqas GCSE (9-1) in MUSIC

http://www.eduqas.co.uk/qualifications/music/

Qualification Accreditation Number: 601/8131/X

SUMMARY OF ASSESSMENT

Component 1: Performing

Total duration of performances: 4-6 minutes

A minimum of two pieces, one of which must be an ensemble performance of at least one minute duration. The other piece(s) may be either solo and/or ensemble.

One of the pieces performed must link to an area of study of the learner’s choice.

Component 2: Composing

Total duration of compositions: 3-6 minutes

Two compositions, one of which must be in response to a brief set by WJEC.

Learners will choose one brief from a choice of four, each one linked to a different area of study. The briefs will be released during the first week of September in the academic year in which the assessment is to be taken.

The second composition is a free composition for which learners set their own brief.

Component 3: Appraising

Written examination: 1 hour 15 minutes 40% of qualification

Area of study 1: Musical Forms and Devices

Area of study 2: Music for Ensemble

Area of study 3: Film Music

Area of study 4: Popular Music

Two of the eight questions are based on extracts set by WJEC. This linear qualification will be available in May/June each year. It will be awarded for the first time in summer 2018.

How will your son be assessed at GCSE?  (internal and external assessment)

60% Coursework and 40% final written exam

Component 1: Performing

Total duration of performances: 4-6 minutes

Non-exam assessment: internally assessed, externally moderated 30% of qualification

Component 2: Composing

Total duration of compositions: 3-6 minutes

Non-exam assessment: internally assessed, externally moderated 30% of qualification

Component 3: Appraising

Written examination: 1 hour 15 minutes 40% of qualification

This component is assessed via a listening examination. Eight questions in total, two on each of the four areas of study.

Common Assessment Tasks
  • December: Set Works Assessment (Listening/Written)
  • March: Composition Assessment
  • July: Solo Performance Recording Assessment
  • Both performances and compositions are internally moderated and examined externally and are regularly teacher assessed during the course.
How Can I Help?
  • Give support meeting homework and coursework deadlines
  • To encourage, and provide opportunities for, students to practise their main instrument regularly at home
  • Encourage general music listening to styles related to content topic
BACK

YEAR 11

WJEC Eduqas GCSE (9-1) in MUSIC

http://www.eduqas.co.uk/qualifications/music/

Qualification Accreditation Number: 601/8131/X

SUMMARY OF ASSESSMENT

Component 1: Performing

Total duration of performances: 4-6 minutes

A minimum of two pieces, one of which must be an ensemble performance of at least one minute duration. The other piece(s) may be either solo and/or ensemble.

One of the pieces performed must link to an area of study of the learner’s choice.

Component 2: Composing

Total duration of compositions: 3-6 minutes

Two compositions, one of which must be in response to a brief set by WJEC.

Learners will choose one brief from a choice of four, each one linked to a different area of study. The briefs will be released during the first week of September in the academic year in which the assessment is to be taken.

The second composition is a free composition for which learners set their own brief.

Component 3: Appraising

Written examination: 1 hour 15 minutes 40% of qualification

Area of study 1: Musical Forms and Devices

Area of study 2: Music for Ensemble

Area of study 3: Film Music

Area of study 4: Popular Music

Two of the eight questions are based on extracts set by WJEC. This linear qualification will be available in May/June each year. It will be awarded for the first time in summer 2018.

How will your son be assessed at GCSE?  (internal and external assessment)

60% Coursework and 40% final written exam

Component 1: Performing

Total duration of performances: 4-6 minutes

Non-exam assessment: internally assessed, externally moderated 30% of qualification

Component 2: Composing

Total duration of compositions: 3-6 minutes

Non-exam assessment: internally assessed, externally moderated 30% of qualification

Component 3: Appraising

Written examination: 1 hour 15 minutes 40% of qualification

This component is assessed via a listening examination. Eight questions in total, two on each of the four areas of study.

Common Assessment Tasks
  • December: Mock Exam Assessment (Listening/Written)
  • March: Composition/Performance Coursework Completed
  • June: Listening and appraising examination
  • Both performances and compositions are internally moderated and examined externally and are regularly teacher assessed during the course.
How Can I Help?
  • Give support meeting homework and coursework deadlines
  • To encourage, and provide opportunities for, students to practise their main instrument regularly at home
  • Encourage general music listening to styles related to content topic
  • Support with revision for examination using structured revision timetable
  • Purchase exam revision books
BACK

YEAR 12 & YEAR 13

A Level Music Overview

http://www.eduqas.co.uk/qualifications/music/

A Level music offers you the opportunity to develop as a performer and composer with 60% of the course being made up of practical assessments. These can be weighted to play to a student’s individual strengths with either a 25% or 35% weighting for either composition or performance. The level of difficulty for performance is about a grade 6 equivalent.

Students will follow the Eduqas Music Specification which is divided into 3 units.

Component 1: Performing

Option A: Total duration of performance: 10-12 minutes

Option A: 35% of qualification

Option B: Total duration of performance: 6-8 minutes

Option B: 25% of qualification

Non-exam assessment: externally assessed by a visiting examiner

Component 2: Composing

Option A: Total duration of compositions: 4-6 minutes

Option A: 25% of qualification

Option B: Total duration of compositions: 8-10 minutes

Option B: 35% of qualification

Non-exam assessment: externally assessed by WJCEC

Component 3: Appraising

Written examination: 2 hours 15 minutes

40% of the qualification.

3 main areas are studied:

  • The Western Classical Tradition (Mozart, Haydn, Mendelssohn etc)
  • Jazz Music (between 1920-1960)
  • Into the 20th Century (Debussy, Poulenc, Stravinsky)

How will your son be assessed at A level?   

Component 1: Appraising music

What’s assessed: Listening, Analysis & Contextual understanding

How it’s assessed

Written examination: 2 hours 15 minutes

40% of the qualification.

3 main areas are studied:

  • The Western Classical Tradition (Mozart, Haydn, Mendelssohn etc)
  • Jazz Music (between 1920-1960)
  • Into the 20th Century (Debussy, Poulenc, Stravinsky)

Component 2: Performance

What’s assessed: Music performance through a recital externally assessed by a visiting examiner

Option A: Total duration of performance: 10-12 minutes

Option A: 35% of qualification

Option B: Total duration of performance: 6-8 minutes

Option B: 25% of qualification

Component 3: Composition

What’s assessed

Composition which is externally assessed by WJCEC

A minimum of four and a half minutes of music in total is required.

How it’s assessed

Option A: Total duration of compositions: 4-6 minutes

Option A: 25% of qualification

Option B: Total duration of compositions: 8-10 minutes

Option B: 35% of qualification

How Can I Help?

  • Give support for meeting homework and coursework deadlines
  • To encourage, and provide opportunities for, students to practise their main instrument regularly at home
  • Encourage general listening to classical and jazz music
  • To listen to music related to the different areas of study on a regular basis.
  • Explore as much information by reading around the subject areas.
  • Use on line websites such as Music theory.net to help improve listening skills and aural skills
BACK

INSTRUMENTAL TUITION

Lessons are offered as 20 minute or 30 minute lessons each week on a rotating timetable so that students do not miss any one curriculum subject regularly. A termly charge is made for all lessons except for those students on free school meals or other financial assistance.

Instrumental tuition for GCSE and A Level students is offered at half fees and students have 30 minute lessons. A Level students are given the option of extending lessons to 40 or 45 minutes each.

 

Tuition is available from specialist tutors on the following instruments:

  • Bassoon
  • Cello
  • Clarinet
  • Dhol
  • Double Bass
  • Drum-Kit
  • Euphonium
  • Flute
  • French Horn
  • Guitar – Acoustic, Electric and Bass
  • Oboe
  • Orchestral Percussion
  • Piano
  • Saxophone
  • Tabla
  • Trombone
  • Trumpet
  • Tuba
  • Viola
  • Violin
  • Singing
BACK

EXTRA-CURRICULAR

Weekly Ensemble Rehearsals

Weekly Ensemble Rehearsals

Monday 

 8.30 – 9.00am: String Quartet

8.30-9.00: Percussion Ensemble,

8.30 – 9.00am: Lower Brass Group
1.00 – 1.40pm: Dhol Drumming group

12.45 – 1.20pm: String Orchestra
1.20- 1.50: Jazz Ensemble
3.40 – 4.45pm: Musical/Production/Band

Tuesday

8.30 – 9.00am: Guitar Ensemble

1.10-1.50: Clarinet Ensemble
1.10-1.50: Concert Band
3.40 – 4.45pm: Big Band

Wednesday

8.30 – 9.05: Rock Group

12.50 – 1.15: Flute Group

1.10-1.50: Aston Choir

Thursday

1.00 – 1.40pm: Theory Club

1.00-1.50: Chamber Ensemble

Friday

8.30 – 9.00am:  Training Band

8.30 – 9.00am: Trumpet Ensemble

1.10-1.50: Saxophone Quartet
1.00 – 1.50pm: Aston Acafellas

Major Concerts and Music Events

October/November

  • Chamber Concert at Aston Parish Church

December

  • Music and Mince Pies Concert

January

  • Instrumental Students Parents’ Evening

February

  • Associated Board Grade Exams
  • Young Musician of the Year

March

  • Soloists and Ensembles Concert
  • Musical Production with King Edward VI Handsworth

April

  • Evening of Jazz and Light Music

June

  • Lower School Soloists Concert

July

  • House Music Festival
  • Associated Board Grade Exams
  • Concert Tour to Europe for Big Band, Concert Band and String Orchestra every two years
  • YEAR 7
  • YEAR 8
  • YEAR 9
  • YEAR 10
  • YEAR 11
  • YEAR 12 & YEAR 13
  • INSTRUMENTAL TUITION
  • EXTRA-CURRICULAR