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Music

My music theory


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.  

The music department is an active and vibrant part of school life at Aston with large numbers of boys involved in both instrumental lessons and music groups. Everyone is encouraged to take part in extra-curricular groups, regardless of ability. Practical music-making is at the heart of the curriculum and the opportunities for musical creativity through technology and computers are encouraged from year 7 onwards. Our departmental aim is to encourage as many boys as possible to be involved in music, both inside and out of the classroom, experiencing music-making at every level of ability.   


Staff:

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

Facilities:

The department is housed in Douglas House comprising of two teaching classrooms, six individual teaching/practice rooms, and a recital hall where weekly rehearsals are held. The teaching classrooms are equipped with keyboards and computers running Sibelius 8 and Cubase 10 music software.   


Trips and Visits:

We have yearly visits to Symphony Hall for all year 7 students and our A Level groups also attend concerts to enhance their learning. Our music groups often perform at a variety of external events and we aim to hold a music trip abroad every 2 or 3 years. Past trips have included concerts in venues around Europe and a trip to New York. 

Year 7

Summary of curriculum:

The elements of music underpin the curriculum taught in year 7. Students begin by learning about rhythm and pitch and in addition cover topics on the instruments of the orchestra. Melody, harmony, texture, timbre and structure are covered through a variety of composing, performing and listening tasks.  

Main topics:
  • Instruments of the orchestra. 
  • Composing and performing rhythm pieces using percussion. 
  • Keyboard performance pieces. 
  • Graphic scores and composing music to a picture. 
  • Learning about the music of China and the pentatonic scale. 
  • Guitar skills and understanding chords and harmony. 
  • Using the Sibelius music software to understand about melody and harmony.
Assessment throughout the year:

Work is assessed in accordance with the whole school assessment policy. Each student will complete three Common Assessment Tasks (CATs) in lessons across the year, comprising of two performance and one composition CAT. 

In addition, there will be shorter assessment tasks using the elements of music in order to embed the knowledge of the elements and how they are used.  

How parents can support their son’s learning:

Encourage your son to listen to music at home from the baroque, classical and Romantic music eras with composers and listening on YouTube and found at https://www.mydso.com/dso-kids/ under ‘Activities’.

Able and inspired opportunities:

Learning a musical instrument is a valuable skill.

Composing skills can be improved using:

Useful websites:

 

Year 8

Summary of curriculum:

The elements of music underpin the curriculum taught in year 8. Students study rhythm, pitch, melody, harmony, texture, timbre and structure through a variety of composing, performing and listening tasks. Instruments of the orchestra are also discussed in lessons. 

Main topics:
  • Major and minor tonality, binary Form and triple time; and composing using these elements of music in Sibelius.    
  • Studying Blues music, learning how to improvise using the Blues scale and performing a 12 bar blues piece.  
  • Studying Holst’s ‘The Planets’ suite, students use their knowledge of the elements of music to compose music to a new planet. 
  • Indian classical music 
  • Learning about melody, chords and harmony used in pop music. Students use Cubase to remix an existing pop song and then compose their own pop pieces.  
Assessment throughout the year:

Work is assessed in accordance with the whole school assessment policy. Each student will complete three CATs in lessons across the year comprising of one performance and two composition assessments.  In addition, there will be shorter listening assessments using the elements of music based on the music studied during the year.  

How parents can support their son’s learning:

Encourage your son to listen to music at home from the baroque, classical and Romantic music eras with composers and listening on YouTube and found at https://www.mydso.com/dso-kids/ under ‘Activities’.

Able and inspired opportunities:

Learning a musical instrument is a valuable skill 

Composing skills can be improved using:

Useful websites:

 

Year 9

Summary of curriculum: The elements of music underpin the curriculum taught in year 9. Students study rhythm, pitch, melody, harmony, texture, timbre and structure through a variety of composing, performing and listening tasks. 
Main topics:
  • Students learn about fanfares and use their knowledge to compose a fanfare for a special occasion using Sibelius.   
  • Minimalism techniques are studied and students use Cubase and Sibelius to compose a minimalist style piece.  
  • Using the elements of music students explore film music, perform famous leitmotifs and compose music to a film clip.  
  • 'Year 9 have talent': students work in groups to perform music of their own choice.  
Assessment throughout the year:

Work is assessed in accordance with the whole school assessment policy. Each student will complete three CATs in lessons across the year, comprising of two performance and one composition assessment.  

In addition, there will be shorter listening assessments using the Elements of Music based on the music studied during the year. 

How parents can support their son’s learning:

Encouraging listening at home and describing music using the elements of music.

Able and inspired opportunities:

Exploring the film music genre in more detail and learning how to compose film music using additional orchestral instruments in Sibelius.

Useful websites:

 

Year 10

Summary of curriculum:

Specification and topics covered at GCSE: see

Main topics:

Component 1: performing 

  • Total duration of performances: 4 to 6 minutes 
  • A minimum of two pieces, one of which must be an ensemble performance of at least one minute's 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 to 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 hr 15 min, 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. 
Assessment throughout the year:

Work is assessed in accordance with the whole school assessment policy. Each student will complete three CATs in lessons across the year comprising GCSE-style listening assessments. 

There are regular listening and appraising tests which take place most lessons. In addition, students will receive regular feedback on the development of their composition and performance skills.

How parents can support their son’s learning:

Listening to their son perform regularly on their musical instrument and encouraging them to listen to music from each of the four areas studied.  

Able and inspired opportunities: Going to concerts at Symphony Hall, Town Hall and ICC. 
Useful websites:

 

Year 11

Summary of curriculum:

Specification and Topics covered at GCSE: see

Main topics:

Component 1: performing 

  • Total duration of performances: 4 to 6 minutes 
  • A minimum of two pieces, one of which must be an ensemble performance of at least one minute's 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 to 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 hr 15 min, 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. 
Assessment throughout the year:

Work is assessed in accordance with the whole school assessment policy. Each student will complete three CATs in lessons across the year comprising GCSE-style listening assessments. 

There are regular listening and appraising tests which take place most lessons. In addition, students will receive regular feedback on the development of their composition and performance skills.

How parents can support their son’s learning:

Listening to their son perform regularly on their musical instrument and encouraging them to listen to music from each of the four areas studied.  

Able and inspired opportunities:

Going to concerts at Symphony Hall, Town Hall and ICC. 

Useful websites:

 

Year 12

Summary of curriculum:

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 around a grade 6 equivalent. Students will follow the Eduqas Music Specification which is divided into 3 units.

Main topics:

Component 1: Performing

  • Option A: total duration of performance 10 to 12 minutes; 35% of qualification
  • Option B: total duration of performance: 6 to 8 minutes; 25% of qualification non-exam assessment: externally assessed by a visiting examiner.

Component 2: Composing

  • Option A: Total duration of compositions: 4-6 minutes; 25% of qualification.
  • Option B: Total duration of compositions: 8-10 minutes; 35% of qualification Non-exam assessment: externally assessed by WJCEC

Component 3: Appraising Written examination: 2 hr 15 min for 40% of the qualification. Three main areas are studied: 

  • The western classical tradition (Mozart, Haydn, Mendelssohn etc.)
  • Jazz music (between 1920-1960)
  • Into the 21st Century 
Assessment throughout the year:

Work is assessed in accordance with the whole school assessment policy. Each student will complete three CATs in lessons across the year comprising of A Level listening assessments. In addition, students will receive regular feedback on the development of their composition and performance skills. Most lessons contain regular listening and appraising activities.

How parents can support their son’s learning:

Listening to their son perform at home, and attending regular concerts consisting of a variety of classical music, modern contemporary classical music, pop music, musical theatre and jazz music.

Able and inspired opportunities:

Regular performance opportunities, music competitions, external composition opportunities, and attending music groups outside of school.

Useful websites:

 

Year 13

Summary of curriculum:

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 around a grade 6 equivalent. Students will follow the Eduqas Music Specification which is divided into 3 units.

Main topics:

Component 1: Performing

  • Option A: total duration of performance 10 to 12 minutes; 35% of qualification
  • Option B: total duration of performance: 6 to 8 minutes; 25% of qualification non-exam assessment: externally assessed by a visiting examiner.

Component 2: Composing

  • Option A: Total duration of compositions: 4-6 minutes; 25% of qualification.
  • Option B: Total duration of compositions: 8-10 minutes; 35% of qualification Non-exam assessment: externally assessed by WJCEC

Component 3: Appraising Written examination: 2 hr 15 min for 40% of the qualification. Three main areas are studied: 

  • The western classical tradition (Mozart, Haydn, Mendelssohn etc.)
  • Jazz music (between 1920-1960)
  • Into the 21st Century 
Assessment throughout the year:

Work is assessed in accordance with the whole school assessment policy. Each student will complete three CATs in lessons across the year comprising of A Level listening assessments. In addition, students will receive regular feedback on the development of their composition and performance skills. Most lessons contain regular listening and appraising activities. 

How parents can support their son’s learning:

Listening to their son perform at home, and attending regular concerts consisting of a variety of classical music, modern contemporary classical music, pop music, musical theatre and jazz music.

Able and inspired opportunities:

Regular performance opportunities, music competitions, external composition opportunities, and attending music groups outside of school.

Useful websites: