Musical Notes 100

Music is an integral part of life – from the charts to Classical music, we are exposed to Music throughout our daily lives.  The National Curriculum requires you to have an understanding of performing a variety of music as well as composing your own pieces and listening to and analysing pieces of pre-existing music.

In Music lessons at Prenton, we meet these requirements by encouraging and supporting our students to perform on a variety of instruments including the piano, ukulele and singing both as an individual and as part of an ensemble. From this they will become independent learners capable of improving their own skills and also good team players who contribute well to an ensemble.

The skills and knowledge that students will acquire in Music have direct links to many subjects that students study including Geography (African Music and Reggae), History (The Blues, Samba and The Orchestra)  and Maths (Music Theory).
Our aim in Music is to ensure that all our students:

·         Can perform confidently in a variety of musical styles

·         Are able to explore and become confident composers

·         Can listen to music and identify key features such as instruments, tempo and dynamics

·         Use Technology effectively, improving musicality


Mrs C Burns |Subject Leader – Music and Performing Arts
Mrs J Jones | Teacher – Music and Humanities
Miss E Carpenter | Teacher


At Prenton, there are two Music classrooms and four practise spaces for group work or instrumental tuition.
One classroom is a dedicated Music Technology lab with 15 Apple Mac computers running Logic Pro, Sibelius 7.5 and Garageband.  These programmes are used from the outset of Year 7 to improve students’ skills in Music Technology.

Curriculum provision for Years 7,8,9

More detail on this course to follow shortly.

The GCSE curriculum

AQA GCSE Music (4270)

Important requirements

You must be prepared to undertake tuition on at least one instrument/singing in order to prepare adequately for the Performance unit (40%) and have a desire to write your own music.  A good sense of independence is important too in order to put in the practice time required to improve on your instrument.

Syllabus GCSE in Music

Examination Board AQA

Qualification- 1 GCSE A*-G

Course content

Unit 1: Listening to and Appraising Music

1 hour; 20% of the total marks; 80 marks

Assessment is through a terminal examination marked by AQA examiners. Candidates respond to questions based on short musical excerpts drawing on music from all five Areas of Study. Recorded excerpts of music will be provided on a CD. Questions will be:

·         objective tests
·         structured responses
·         extended responses.
Candidates explore and develop an understanding of the organisation of sound.

These will be explored through the three strands:

a) The Western Classical Tradition

b) Popular Music of the 20th & 21st centuries

c) World Music

Unit 2- Unit 2: Composing and Appraising Music

20% of the total marks 40 Marks (2 x 20)

The task

A. Candidates are required to compose one piece of music and must choose two or more of the five Areas of Study (10%). There must be a link to one of the three strands, which will be announced annually by AQA. Candidates have up to 20 hours of Supervised Time in which to complete the composition, under informal supervision. Candidates’ work must be monitored during this period by the teacher so that he/she is able to authenticate it as the candidate’s own. There is no time limit in terms of the duration of the composition but candidates should be aware of the need to demonstrate sufficient development of musical ideas in the music and, as a consequence, very short pieces may not allow for this.

B. Candidates appraise the process and the outcome of the composition in relation to the Areas of Study and indicate the link to the strand (10%). Candidates have up to 2 hours of Controlled Time for the appraisal which must be undertaken as an individual exercise under formal supervision.

In preparing candidates for this Unit, it is anticipated that teachers will assist in helping candidates to work to their strengths. In many cases, candidates may wish to utilise their skills and aptitudes in performing and/or their preferences in listening and appraising, in creating and developing the composition. The nature of the task in relation to the selected Areas of Study will encourage this and whilst it is recognised that many compositions will explore most, if not all of the Areas of Study, it must be possible to respond successfully within two areas.

It is important that candidates remember that there must be a link to the strand. This will be as follows:

2014 – The Western Classical Tradition
2015 – Popular Music of the 20th and 21st Centuries
2016 – World Music

Unit 3- Unit 3: Performing Music

40% of the total marks 60 marks

Candidates perform individually or through ICT and as part of a group.

Each candidate should perform two different pieces:

a) one for ‘Individual Performance’/’Technology-based Performance’, lasting no more than five minutes, and

b) one for ‘Group Performance’, lasting no more than five minutes.

In both Individual and Group performances, backing tracks are permitted.

Both performances must be recorded. The recordings must be in a format that can be played on an external device such as CD or mini-disc. The recordings may be made at any time during the course.

a) (i) Individual Performance

Candidates perform a piece of music in which they are assessed as an individual. The music chosen can be:

·         an unaccompanied solo (where this is the intended nature of the piece)
·         an accompanied solo
·         a performance where the candidate has a substantial solo part.
An individual performance is defined as one person playing/singing/maintaining an independent melodic/ rhythmic part.

a) (ii) Technology-based Performance

This consists of using a sequencer and/or multi-track recorder and then manipulating the inputted data to achieve a satisfactory performance in terms of the assessment criteria. There should be at least three parts and candidates must perform at least one of the parts in real or step time.

b) Group Performance The group performance must consist of two or more live players including the candidate. Where a candidate performs within a large ensemble, the candidate’s part must be clearly identifiable aurally to the teacher and the moderator. Groups may be conducted but not by the teacher assessing the performance.

Unit 4- Unit 4: Composing Music

20% of the total marks 30 marks

The task

Candidates are required to compose one piece of music which explores two or more of the five Areas of Study. This may be in any style or genre of the candidate’s choosing.

Candidates have up to 25 hours of Controlled Assessment in which to complete the composition. This must be undertaken as an individual exercise under informal supervision. There is no time limit in terms of the duration of the composition but candidates should be aware of the need to demonstrate sufficient development of musical ideas in the music and as a consequence, very short pieces may not allow for this.

The composition must be submitted as follows:

1. A recording of the final completed composition. This must be in a format that can be played on an external device such as CD or mini-disc. The recording may be made using live performers, ICT or a combination of both.

2. A musical score. In this case, a score is understood to be any written format that is appropriate to the particular genre of music presented. This could include:

·         staff notation
·         graphic notation
·         tab
·         a written account detailing the structure and content of the music
·         a combination of some or all of these.

Why choose Music as an Option?

The course offers an excellent programme of Musical study which enables students to:

·         follow a practical approach with greater weighting given to performance
·         have more choice in performing, including the use of music technology, which allows students to demonstrate their ability while engaging in the music which they most enjoy
·         have an accessible approach to the formal listening skills, using a wide variety of music.
·         grow as musicians
·         listen to and appraise different musical styles and genres
·         how to create and perform music as individuals and in groups.

Important requirements

You must be prepared to work hard to improve your instrumental skills and demonstrate a commitment to the Music department.  We have many performances throughout the year and you should want to be involved with these.



There is a wide and varied programme of extra-curricular music at Prenton with something to satisfy every Musicians needs.  Groups currently scheduled are:  Junior Choir, Senior Choir, Samba Band, Ukulele Orchestra, Wind Band as well as a full scale school musical every year and a talent show. Musicians are also invited to take part in assemblies at Prenton showcasing their talents. A real strength of the dept is the inclusive approach adopted whereby all students are encouraged to participate and excel.