Our aim as a department is to provide high quality musical opportunities for all pupils, regardless of standard, and to broaden and develop their experiences in a range of genres and styles, from the traditional to the contemporary.
The life and soul of a successful music department begins in the classroom and there are an exciting range of opportunities to study music at Gresham’s. Well-resourced classrooms and access to numerous practice rooms support pupils of all ages and musical preference to develop their skills and their music making. The Strathmore Studio is integral to all qualifications and students become literate using standard notation software and Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), to create and communicate their musical intentions.
Pupils who love music and study to develop their applied knowledge and academic understanding will thrive when pursuing their passion. The courses on offer enable pupils to forge their own way, explore further their own instrument, context and musical understanding
- Year 9
Year 9 focuses on engagement, enrichment and challenge, with a carefully scaffolded curriculum that develops key skills of performing, creating and musical literacy to provide a foundation in music making, being a new skill or developing and broadening existing musical experiences.
- GCSE Music
Exam board: Edexcel
GCSE Music is the programme of study for Key Stage 4, with separate component parts of performing, composing and listening and appraising. Covering music from the 1600s to the present day, pupils are taught to listen critically to music from many genres and styles, deepening their understanding and context of their own personal experience. Solo and ensemble performance opportunities are taught in combination with peripatetic lessons, and composition skills are developed to produce pieces submitted for coursework, in any style in response to a brief.
- A level Music
Exam board: AQA
Entry requirements: Grade 6 in GCSE Music or equivalent and ideally at least Grade IV Theory Skills. Performing skills equivalent to Grade VI.
A level Music is an exciting and rewarding, unique in its combination of academic study and creative opportunity. The course offers a broad curriculum covering western classical music, music for stage and screen and popular music, with a requirement for a solo recital and compositions in response to a brief and of free choice. Deeper analysis and extended written responses are required to succeed, enabling academic challenge across a range of genres. Music Technology is embedded within the programme of study and used in response to all components.
C1: Listening & Appraising You will study a wide range of pieces of music from across the world and from
different time periods, developing listening and analysing skills. The Areas of Study cover the following areas:
- Western Classical Tradition – Solo Baroque Concerto, Operas of Mozart, Romantic Piano Music
- Popular Music – Soul, Funk, Dance, Popular, Rock, Rap and Studio Production Techniques
- Music for Media – Music for film, music featured in gaming and commercial media outlets
The final exam will include listening to music you have studied and responding to what you hear.
C2: Performance You will prepare with your instrumental teacher a solo or ensemble performance of 10-12
minutes in length to perform in front of an audience, which will be recorded and assessed.
C3: Composition You will compose two pieces of music of 2½-4 minutes in length. There is considerable
breadth to the options available for composition, free choice and set briefs. At least one of the compositions
will include Music Technology skills and processes
- BTEC in Digital Music Production
Exam board: Pearson
The BTEC enables pupils to manage and understand the principles of the studio, through real life briefs and projects. A practical qualification that offers an introduction to the music production sector through Digital Audio Workstations (DAW) and applied learning and extended projects. Synthesis and sampling, mixing and mastering, creating sound and music for media products are all covered in the assignment briefs, leading to pupils becoming confident producer in the studio.
Equivalent to one A level, this course is designed to support progression to apprenticeship or employment when taken as part of a programme of study that includes other appropriate BTEC Nationals or A levels. It supports pupils looking to study an academic subject at university, and it provides a strong basis of study for the sound engineering sector with a focus on studio recording techniques and DAW production.
Within the BTEC Digital Music Production course, there are two mandatory units, which cover the following aspects of sound engineering:
- Music and Sound for Media – Learners will explore the production of the music, sound and effects that are used for media products such as games, films and apps.
- Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) production – Students will develop an understanding of how a digital audio workstation can be used creatively to produce music, manipulate audio and mix music.
Students will also study three optional units.
- Creative Synthesis and Sampling – Learners will explore the creative functions of synthesisers and samplers in making music and sound design.
- Mixing and Mastering Techniques – This unit aims to give learners the skills to mix and master a digital audio workstation (DAW) project to a professional standard.
- Commercial Music Production – Learners will explore the audio production techniques and earcatching songwriting styles associated with commercial music.
- International Baccalaureate in Music
The music course has been transformed to focus on creativity; discovery and pupil lead learning, and at both Standard Level and Higher Level requires no formal prior training. The course is designed to allow students to experience music on a personal level while expanding their musical identity. The individual student’s prior experiences will determine the students’ pathways through, and engagement with, the course. It is, however, advantageous to have a musical interest, passion and ability to discover music linked to personal, local and global contexts.
The Music IB is offered at Standard and Higher Level. This is an incredible exciting, creative and innovative course that puts the individual pupil at the centre of their own investigative programme of study. Exploring, experimenting, creating and collaborating are the key areas of study, with links across areas of inquiry including music for socio and political expression, music for impact, movement and entertainment, music for listening and music technology.
The course is divided into 3 sections
Exploring music in context: Researching and analysing music across different styles and responding to what you find creatively through performing and composing
Experimenting with music: Taking musical ideas, changing and transforming them and presenting your ideas and findings through practical discovery
Presenting music: Respond to your favourite piece an perform, compose and create in your chosen styles
Contemporary music maker (Higher Level Only): Work on a new project with other art forms and create a multimedia presentation to share your work and outcomes, using real life skills and collaborative approaches.
George Stiles is a multi-award winning lyricist and composer for the stage.
“I was lucky enough while at Gresham’s to realise that I wanted to make a life centred around music. Such an encouraging environment at a young age is priceless”.
Pete Blyth is a composer.
“I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the Britten Building and seeing the amazing facilities available. It was great to talk to some of the pupils and teachers and I was impressed by their enthusiasm and passion about music. When I was at Gresham’s the music department didn’t have anything like ’The Strathmore Studio’, but one thing that was similar to now was the friendships that were being made while creating music together and the inspiring teachers who encouraged us.”