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Uxbridge High School

PURPOSE AND IMPACT

The purpose of the music curriculum is to prepare young people for potential work in the music industry and regardless of their final career choices post mastery-stage, the impact of the music curriculum will allow them to enter into their adult lives with greatly enhanced personal skill-sets and the unique confidence that out-of-comfort-zone encounters with music can bring.
Music is arguably the greatest achievement of human kind, as exemplified by Einstein (who was a keen musician) when he said: “I know that most joy in my life has come to me from my violin.”

 

Music expresses our noblest and highest thoughts and helps us to see ourselves as we truly are, from our depths and doubts, to our ambitions and dreams. It is the backdrop of our lives, a unique language of pure emotion, without which our existence would be unthinkably dry and dour.
When humans celebrate, mourn, dance, cry, love or separate, music is their joy, their comfort, their solace and hope.

There is a great deal of documented research that proves the benefits of music for the human mind, for example:

Extract from Daily Telegraph [R. Alleyne, Science Correspondent, 2009] Lutz Jäncke, a psychologist at the University of Zurich, said:

"Learning to play a musical instrument has definite benefits and can increase IQ by seven points, in both children and adults. "The parts of the brain that control hearing, memory, and the part that controls the hands among others, all become more active. Essentially the architecture of the brain changes. "For children especially we found that learning to play the piano for instance teaches them to be more self-disciplined, more attentive and better at planning. All of these things are very important for academic performance, so can therefore make a child brighter. "Of course music isn't the only answer, but I do believe that it should be used in addition to other things."

Music is a cornerstone of the arts and is priceless; however, when it comes to the money side, music has real relevance too.

WIDER LINKS TO CAREERS

The music industry is a vital and thriving part of the UK economy, with live and recorded music business activity contributing over £4.5 billion to the UK economy in 2018. https://www.ukmusic.org/research/measuring-music-2018/ As such, music offers genuine pathways into lucrative and highly enjoyable employment, with roles such as:

  • Performer
  • Writer/Composer
  • Sound Engineer
  • PA design
  • Producer
  • Music Transport/Logistics/Roadie
  • Archivist
  • DJ
  • Artist Management
  • Event Management
  • Music Marketing
  • Music Lawyer

HIGHER EDUCATION ROUTES FOR MUSICIANS

Numerous prestigious universities and colleges/conservatories of music offer talented, hard-working and proven young musicians the chance to build on their music skills at tertiary level.
Courses are aimed towards entry into such music sectors as: Contemporary pop music performance or production, classical music performance, music journalism, music business roles.
From Oxford to Cambridge, Birmingham to Brunel, Edinburgh to Exeter and London Kings College to Kingston University, the list of possible Music-based courses is bound to cater for every possible kind of aspiration and skill-set.
We have designed our music curriculum to help students acquire the core music skills in KS3 and develop the specialisms they opt for in either the classical or technical disciplines during KS4 and KS5. Their potential pathway into degree-level music study or work is greatly enhanced by our curriculum content and structure.

SKILLS, KNOWLEDGE AND CONCEPTS

The purpose of the music curriculum is to allow young people to develop powerful personal skills such as:

  • Detailed and focused listening to identify fine details
  • Multi-tasking skills (performing a solo to an audience)
  • Resilience (music practice techniques)
  • Comparison and analysis, justifying points with musical vocabulary
  • Team work and Networking skills
  • Music also offers unique experiences for young people to develop confidence by working outside their ‘comfort zone’


Specialist music skills that students develop include:

  • Reading music notation
  • Decoding Chord Symbols
  • Maths in music (eg. Roman numeral chords, interval, theory of harmony, scale structures)
  • Fine motor control skills
  • Hand-eye coordination skills
  • Musical vocabulary, including how to link sound/symbol to emotion/context
  • Performing/presentation Skills
  • Composition skills
  • IT skills through the use of sophisticated music apps eg. Logic X pro
  • Recording, mixing and mastering skills

HOW IS THE MUSIC CURRICULUM IS DELIVERED?

Years 7 and 8 invites students to learn the foundation music skills required for progression, in weekly one-hour lessons.
All students learn how to read music and develop a working understanding of the key musical elements and devices that are part of the ‘building blocks’ of music, such as ostinatos/riffs, chords, time signatures, forms and structures. Already here in the foundation years, the new 9-1 GCSE music exam vocabulary is put into direct use within lessons.
Y7/8 students compose numerous pieces of music to develop and extend their skills, creating within recognised musical structures and making increasingly confident and imaginative use of devices, including ‘tricks of the trade’ as used by successful, revered and popular musicians of the past and present time.
They learn how to perform music to an audience, making use of presentation skills such as body language and self-management techniques.
They listen to and write about musical features from a wide range of styles and periods of musical history, gaining a sense of time and place and commenting on the effect of the music.
Regular and effective feedback enables them to ‘feed forward’ and improve on their musical output and make further progress.


Year 9 is our transitional year and lessons are more frequent, 5 per fortnight as part of an arts ‘pre-options’ choice system.
Now, the students delve deeper into the underpinning concepts that music depends upon to work. Characteristic rhythms, chord sequences, melodies and textures are explored in more detail. A truly diverse range of styles, periods and genres are analysed. Musical forms and professional structures such as strophic form are compared and worked upon.
Students are required to perform longer, more complex music (with a view to them being able to meet the minimum length of 3 minutes of performed music for GCSE coursework later on).

Year 9 students compose longer, more developed and feature-laden pieces of music for assessment.
Listening tests begin to mirror more closely the content and layout of the GCSE and Music Tech exam papers, to increase familiarisation profitably for what will follow in KS4.


KS4 in Music offers our students the choice to achieve mastery of their musical skills through:
GCSE Music
or
Music Tech (vocational).


EDUQAS GCSE music
60% Performing and Composing (coursework)
40% Appraising (exam)

 

Performing

Students are offered priority places on our music instrument tuition programme, and required to join at least one extra-curricular music group to enhance their performance skills.
Regular opportunities to perform include our three ‘music showcase’ events such as Winter showcase, Spring showcase and the Summer Art and Music Show live performances. We also strive to put on productions/shows wherever possible and produce other smaller-scale performance opportunities like music in assemblies, at the Shakespeare festival, open evenings and community events such as ‘Show and Prove’ (in conjunction with One Hillingdon).
Performances are recorded and added to the student’s portfolios for coursework entry. The last time for performances to be recorded is by end of February in Year 11.

Composing

Students build upon their transitional knowledge, working with techniques such as diatonic chords, sequences, modulations, alternative time signatures and rhythmic structures.
All students are required to complete two compositions for coursework, in the Autumn and Spring Term of Year 11.

Appraising

Throughout the course, study of the two ‘set-works’ are essential in lessons that focus on listening. Practice questions that enable access to the higher-levels of music vocabulary build towards the challenges of sample papers. Progress is tracked using data and interventions occur, such as music theory coaching sessions.

The final exam takes place in the June/July of Year 11.

 

NCFE Level 2 Technical Award in Music Technology
This vibrant course covers four units of study, with coursework tasks for each one that are assessed, internally verified and stored securely, awaiting the two annual visits of an EQA (external quality assurer).


The units include:
1. Using a Digital Audio Workstation
2. Creating Music
3. Studio Recording
4. Sound Creation


There are two external exams, which are taken in Year 11 in March. These can be repeated in June and the highest of the outcomes is the final mark.
The exam content covers that which has been learned in the four units of study and students are prepared for these rigorously by use of practice exam questions and papers during the mock and PPE processes.

 

KS5 in Music is the advanced stage and we have chosen to offer the BTEC Level 3 Extended Certificate in Digital Music Production, because this excellent, fit-for-purpose course will enable out students to access the modern music industry and develops advanced skills in music production, recording, composition and performance.


There are six units of study:

  • Music and Sound for Media
  • Commercial Music Production
  • Mixing, Mastering and Re-mixes
  • DAW production
  • Creative Sampling

Entry requirements are:
Either: GCSE Music at grade 4 or above
Or: Vcert or BTEC Level 2 in Music Technology at Merit or above


Two of the units are assessed by externally set exams. Three are assessed on coursework that is internally marked and then moderated externally.

 

Course Structure overview in KS5
Year 1: Students learn how Apple Digital Audio Workstation software works in our Mac Suite and Recording Studio. Working in teams, they begin to create and record their own tracks and mixes for media projects, using LOGIC Pro and ProTools Apps, and our professional microphones.

Year 2: Students develop sound recording and audio production skills, creating own samples and remixes. They learn many of the professional ‘tricks of the trade’ currently used in the commercial music sector, and develop their own music production ‘style’.


The BTEC Level 3 ext. cert. is equivalent to 1 ‘A’level in UCAS points.

 

Music Instrument Lessons are offered from Year 7 onwards. These are chargeable and run by the Hillingdon Music Service, a trusted partner at UHS who provide high-quality, experienced music teachers who arrive fully DBS-checked and have a strong rapport and high reputation with our students and parents.
The purpose of these lessons is to offer students the chance to extend their music performance skills in control, expression and ability to interpret a piece of music with style and idiomatic awareness of genre.
These skills are vital to attain grades 9-7 at GCSE or to make create the conditions for successful recordings and mixes for distinction grading in Music Tech.

 

Extra-curricular clubs offer further chances for all our students to get involved more deeply in music. The work in these groups builds on and complements what students are learning in their curriculum lessons and they often come along to extend and refine songs and projects that have started as classwork or homework. Groups include:


1. START TO SING choir (Y7/8)
2. Vox Rox (Y9-12)
3. JAM SESSIONS (Y7-10)
4. Music Tech Club (Y7+)
5. DJ Club (Y9+)