Head of Department - Mr A Williams
Curriculum Intent, Implementation and Impact in Music
Introduction to subject
Music matters at St Martin’s School. Our thriving and well-resourced department comprises of three full-time teachers, as well as a full-time technician who also plays a key role in whole school audio and visual matters. Furthermore, we have a large team of outstanding peripatetic teachers - as such, we are able to offer individual lessons on the piano, voice, drums, guitar, flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, violin and viola. Life in the Music Department is never boring, and we have at least two ensembles that run every lunchtime. These range from Advanced Choir to Ukulele Group, and we have termly concerts of an extremely high standard that showcase our students’ talents (see the ‘Music Clubs & Events’ page on the Extra Curricular section of the website for more details). We also collaborate annually with the Drama department to produce an outstanding musical – recent productions include Grease, Sister Act, In the Heights, Made in Dagenham, Miss Saigon and Les Misérables. We have unashamedly high standards for all students in Music and expect the very best from them at all times.
Why is the study of Music important?
The benefits of learning Music are endless. Music is a passion for life for many, and the vast majority of adults wish they were able to learn an instrument, or had persevered with learning one. It assists with concentration, breathing, posture, confidence and is a vehicle for self-expression and self-discipline. It is also a highly social activity – music is a language, and speaks to everyone. At St Martin’s, we strongly believe every student has the right to an outstanding musical education and our dedicated specialist staff of three full-time staff, one full time technician/administrator and eight part-time peripatetic instrumental teachers are committed to delivering this. We are exceptionally proud of the opportunities we are able to give to our students in the Music department at St Martin’s.
How does the study of Music develop your skills, knowledge and understanding?
Music develops a plethora of skills, both specifically instrumental and in the wider world. Confidence is a key skill that is required throughout life – the regular performance opportunities that Music provides assist in allowing students to come out of their shell and discover their true selves. Studying Music in school allows students to develop a further appreciation of the pieces they listen to on a regular basis as part of their daily life, it will also introduce them to the key composers and characteristics of the subject that has shaped the music we listen to today. Furthermore, students’ cultural capital is enhanced through the study of music from a variety of different cultures, perspectives and time periods.
How are students assessed in Music?
Assessment happens at all times in the Music classroom, whether this be vicariously, through instant and effective verbal feedback or through a formal practical or written assessment. At Key Stage 3, students are assessed wholly practically once per half term on an exciting skill-developing topic written in-house by knowledgeable staff, against bespoke departmental assessment criteria. At Key Stage 4 and 5, students take part in regular formative practical assessment opportunities such as recitals, and receive regular written feedback on both their practical and theoretical work. The key assessment objectives of performing, composing and appraising are interwoven into the Music curriculum at all times. At Key Stage 4, we study the OCR GCSE specification, and at Key Stage 5, we study the Eduqas A-level Music and the Edexcel A-level Music Technology specifications.
How does Music support learning in other areas of the curriculum?
Music is a cross-curricular haven whereby other subjects are able to benefit hugely from the skills we teach students. There are of course the clear links with Creative Arts subjects such as Drama and Art, but the skills students learn in Music extend far deeper than this. First and foremost, confidence in communication and expression – our expectation that students perform regularly and to a high standard links well with any subject that requires this, for example English Language, Physical Education and Modern Languages. The regular practice, perseverance and resilience empowered upon students through the study of Music is of great use in STEM subjects, whereby students have to work methodically and conscientiously to achieve their goals. The critical thinking skills developed through theoretical and musicological study is of great use in subjects such as History and Philosophy, and the IT and programming skills developed through studying the technical side of Music is extremely well-linked to Computer Science. However, above all, the self-discipline that studying Music instils in students is a vital quality across the secondary curriculum.
How can students extend and deepen their knowledge in Music?
Music is all around us – wherever we go, we are fortunate enough to benefit from Music at whatever corner we turn. Within the boundaries of St Martin’s, our students are able to benefit from our exciting curriculum (including GCSE Music and A-level Music and Music Technology) and thriving instrumental lessons programme, as well as our extensive extra-curricular programme and the regular high-profile performance opportunities we are able to offer. Outside of school, the possibilities are endless – we are a stone’s throw away from one of the greatest cities in the world with a thriving arts performance programme (West End theatre and concerts), and local music hubs are able to provide further performance and engagement opportunities for students. Above all, however, we strongly encourage all students to learn an instrument, as the extension and deepening opportunities this provides is unrivalled.
How does Music link to the world of work?
To have not only worked tirelessly to learn the content for a GCSE or A-level examination, but also to have put in the effort for many years to master an instrument is a quality that employers look extremely favourably upon. Music is unlike many other subjects in which mastering the course content suffices; a successful musician needs to do far more than that, namely spend years dedicating time to perfect instrumental or vocal study. This commitment, coupled with the huge courage and determination it takes to perform publicly, is something all employers quite rightly highly value. Potential careers for Music students, which will allow them to thrive using the skills developed in the subject, include performer, music producer, music therapist, teacher, sound designer or engineer, technician, arts administrator, broadcast engineer, choreographer, community arts worker, event management, marketing or talent agent.
How does Music link to the three strands of our core values?
Inspiring and empowering students to access, enjoy and make progress in Music, to ensure they can THRIVE as musicians and Be The Best They Can Be.
Learning for the Future
Outstanding Personal Achievement
Students study a variety of musical styles throughout the curriculum in Music – this is broad and versatile at KS3 and KS4, becoming more refined at KS5 with the A-level Music course placing a specific focus on the traditional canon of the Classical and Romantic symphonies.
We have the highest expectations of students in the Music department and make no apologies for this – the impact of a positive learning environment with high standards must not be underestimated. Students are honest, polite, considerate, respectful and punctual to lessons, arriving with a positive mindset and willing to participate in all class activities.
Students appreciate the value of the resources and assets available to them in the Music department, as such they treat these, but also one another with the utmost respect and empathy.
Students are encouraged to take an independent and proactive approach to their studies, ensuring they are able to take advantage of the opportunities they have with us, make excellent progress and Be The Best They Can Be.
Students also appreciate the value of being team workers in Music, as musicality is made to be shared and the value of ensemble performance is appreciated highly.
Students take pride in the subject and enjoy good relationships with staff, built upon mutual respect, discipline with dignity and restorative justice. The value of honesty is vital in achieving this.
The study of World Music topics at Key Stage 3, such as Samba, African Drumming and World Improvisation allows students to be empathetic and appreciate other cultures.
The St Martin’s Music curriculum is designed specifically with learning for the future in mind – for example, innovative and exciting topics at Key Stage 3 such as Music & Media and Dance Remix are able to introduce students to the realm of Music Technology, an industry that is currently significantly on the rise. Students study these both independently and in groups to develop their team work skills.
Students are able to take this study even further in the Sixth Form by studying the A -level Music Technology qualification, something we recently launched in response to both student and industry demands.
In the classroom, students are able to learn Music hands-on and develop the required resilience with a variety of resources. Examples include a concert xylophone, a Yamaha baby grand piano, a state-of-the-art iMac suite and a recording studio.
Students are able to take part in a variety of trips and visits with the department, to enrich their cultural capital and to provide them with experiences that cannot be replicated in the classroom. Recent examples include Cadogan Hall to hear the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Hospital School to take part in a composition workshop, Royal Holloway (University of London) and WaterBear, the Brighton Alternative Music College.
Students are able to benefit from a versatile, extensive and enriching extra-curricular programme that includes many different ensembles, regular concerts and other performance opportunities (such as the annual St Martin’s Day service) and two musicals per year, produced in collaboration with our outstanding Drama department.
Students are regularly introduced to and educated on the future study and career opportunities that Music presents.
Music in its very nature promotes outstanding personal achievement – its versatility ensures every student has the opportunity to succeed, whether this be in a piano exam, a group performance of a pop song on stage in one of our concerts or a deep theoretical understanding.
Students are passionate about Music, are supportive towards peers and appreciate the wide variety of musical activities available to them at St Martin’s. They appreciate the resilience required in order to be able to succeed in Music.
Students are encouraged to be empathetic and regularly reflect and evaluate their work in an honest manner in order to make further progress.
Regular concerts and productions enable students to demonstrate and celebrate their successes and highlight the progress they have made.
Music is a form of escape for many students – an opportunity to escape from behind the desk and express themselves, developing resilience that can then be applied across the curriculum.
Through studying Music, students are able to develop skills such as self-expression, discipline, confidence, communication, perseverance, critical thinking and enriched cultural capital.
The team work skills developed through Music (particularly ensemble skills) are a highly desirable quality for potential employers.
Students are able to take their musical studies further and outside the classroom opening the door to future successes. This could range from a formal performance exam to performing at a family event – either way, music unites and empowers us all..
Our school-wide shared language for learning is vital to our curriculum implementation in the Music department at St Martin’s. Each lesson is planned and sequenced to ensure students are able to maximise their progress, through a carefully balanced combination of retrieval practice, delivery of new content, practical application and a plenary to consolidate learning. Students receive regular feedback from teachers, both written and verbal, and are given regular opportunities to respond to this. Teachers challenge and inspire students through targeted questioning, always setting them targets to strive towards in both their practical and written work, and previous content is re-capped regularly to ensure misconceptions are addressed and students’ understanding is enhanced. For example, at Key Stage 3, students are introduced to basic performance skills throughout Year 7, this is enhanced in Year 8 through topics such as World Improvisation and Vocal Techniques, and mastered in Year 9 with areas of study such as Cover Versions and Film Music composition. Following assessment, DIRT time is regularly completed to ensure students are able to reflect on their learning and make future progress. Students are given ample opportunities to thrive throughout the department through regular performance opportunities, extra-curricular ensembles, a fully-accessible practical curriculum and a variety of KS4 and KS5 courses they can elect to study.
The Music curriculum has a notable impact on all of our students. We offer a comprehensive extra-curricular programme of multiple ensembles rehearsing each day, as well as termly concerts and two musicals produced annually with our Drama department. On average, we have around 60 students each year studying Music or Music Technology at GCSE and A-level, and recent leavers have gone on to study the subject at prestigious universities such as Durham, Surrey and Royal Holloway, with high-achieving students every year obtaining results well above national average. Our expert staff are always on hand to advise students on next steps should they wish to pursue Music beyond St Martin’s, with a plethora of experiences amongst them.