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Music

The department’s vision… 

Brownhills Music students know that: 

  1. Brownhills is a singing school. 
  1. We ask ourselves ‘what can I actually hear?’ 
  1. We practise more, so we remember more. 

This curriculum is designed to harness the wide ranging opportunities presented in an arts-rich school to transform the thinking, appreciation and behaviours of young people to become culturally competent citizens. By taking a highly practical approach to addressing the key skills and concepts addressed on the National Curriculum and beyond, we prepare our students to develop a lifelong love of the subject that they can apply to the wider community and possibly, their careers. We will provide creative opportunities for students to find their own voice and develop discipline and confidence through high quality rehearsal. We will provide a sequence of concepts showing clear progression of skills and knowledge in Music. It provides a framework from which relevant learning experiences can be planned, to broaden the horizons and experiences of Brownhills students, to enable them to recognise and take advantage of opportunities available to them, promoting the concept of aspirations. 

 Sequencing of lessons 

Knowledge and understanding of the elements of music is taught throughout Year 7 to provide a foundation for all other musical understanding. Students are taught key musical language surrounding dynamics, tempo and pitch to facilitate musical conversations and embed musical language to allow students to talk like musicians from day one at Brownhills. This is practically explored through singing to ensure the culture of singing in the academy is established. Students then learn to interpret this musical information from score and use their music reading skills to see, hear and practically explore melodic devices from score used in traditional music. Students then hear these musical devices played by different instruments of the orchestra and learn to aurally identify those instruments based on pitch and timbre of each instrument. Through this unit, students consider how instruments are interacting ad develop their musical vocabulary to allow them to talk about texture using musical language. Music reading skills are now applied to a focused instrument study, in which students learn to identify scored pitches and rhythms to play a combination of popular melodies and those by the great composers on keyboards. Students learn to read and play in the treble in bass clef in key signatures of up to one flat and sharp. Now, with a deeper understanding of the elements of music that has been applied to numerous different musical settings, students begin to play and compose melodies for film, specifically, Harry Potter. Students learn to manipulate texture, use dissonance and explore descriptive uses of dynamics to describe a person, time or place in Harry Potter. In the final half term of Year 7, students develop skills on popular instruments and composition knowledge to incorporate chords within pop song structures that they can read, play and write. In this this unit, students must combine their knowledge of music theory and the elements of music with singing skills and their work on keyboards to play melodies and accompaniments in small ensembles. In this unit, students have the opportunity to learn how to apply this knowledge to other popular instruments such as guitars and ukuleles as well being able to use personal instruments from peripatetic tuition to enhance compositions or apply new knowledge to their primary instrument study. 

In Year 8 we develop skills and knowledge through class choir singing in 2-parts, following sheet music to develop our understanding of music theory and identify different word setting, applied immediately to professional-style musical rehearsals. Knowledge in this unit includes Italian terminology for tempo to add to students’ repertoire of functional musical language. Rehearsal etiquette reinforced through this unit and music reading abilities are harnessed and applied to Pop music in which students are taught to lead their own rehearsals in small ensembles. Students learn the conventions of pop, now combining genre specific language with the broader musical terms they have studied through Year 7. This is followed by applying these performance and appraising skills to Musical Theatre to show how these musical devices studied can be manipulated to aid story telling. In this unit, students learn new musical language focused on texture and instrumentation and make creative judgements about why specific elements of music and sonorities have been used to depict different emotions. Students continue to study instrumentation in second half of the Spring term as they look to the past to consider how music and instruments have evolved over time to inform their understanding of today’s musical landscape. In this unit, students learn musical language specific to each era of music. This informs the following content covered in Theme & Variations as students build on new knowledge about the classical era to study musical devices that can be used to inform composition. As part of this, students complete an in-depth study into the piano music of Mozart and use this research and prior knowledge to compose their Theme & Variations compositions. Finally in Year 8, students learn about rhythmic devices and textures, commonly used in music from other parts of the world. Students are continuing to experience all knowledge through a rigorous singing curriculum and in this final unit, is practically experienced through Djembe drumming, Samba bands and Steel Pans. 

In Year 9 students have selected to do the subject and we explore the National Curriculum in more depth through the History of Music and Elements of Music unit. Students develop their theoretical understanding before then applying it to composition and more complex performance scenarios in the summer. As students become more skilled and well versed in group work in music, independent ensemble rehearsals and performances become an active part of lessons to experience music of multiple different genres. 

In Year 10 students begin the GCSE by studying the elements of music, now with a more specific focus on the language used in the Eduqas GCSE Music exam. This is applied to choral singing and chamber ensemble performance as students apply this knowledge of the elements of music to Christmas music in preparation for public performance. With a more refined understanding of the language of music, music theory and the opportunity to have realised this through performance work students then study each of the four areas of study in the following four half terms. Throughout Year 10 and into Year 11, students apply new knowledge through a variety of different performance and composition activities to ensure that skillset is suitable for students to complete their composition and performance course early in Year 11. In Year 11, students do an in-depth study on the two set works in Area of Study 1 and 4, before dedicating lesson time to exam technique, aural training and particularly, the structuring of longer answer questions in response to Assessment Objective 4, considering a composer’s intention when using specific elements of music. Practical opportunities are still a prominent feature of this curriculum to ensure students maintain a love of learning and a relevant musical experience. 

Assessment 

Assessment for learning will be used throughout the teaching of this curriculum to ensure that progress and understanding is developed from basic, advancing to deep with reference to the threshold concepts in each subject area. Opportunities for the students to apply their knowledge and understanding to performance, composition and appraising activities will be provided throughout the year and successes celebrated and shared. Students will become accustomed to being taught new knowledge and being assessed on their ability to apply it to listening, performance and composition. Students will be assessed on their full musical capacity to ensure we are nurturing aspirational, well-rounded musicians of the future.  

Throughout Key Stage 3, students’ listening skills are assessed using formal listening assessments called the ‘Big Listen’. Opportunities for students to practice these skills and questions in this format are provided every two lessons and are embedded in student workbooks. These scores are calculated to inform progress in response to reliable and valid assessment questions that go above and beyond the demands of the National Curriculum. Performance and composition opportunities are embedded in a similar way but are prepared over a longer period of time to allow students appropriate rehearsal time to action feedback provided verbally during lessons. 

At Key Stage 4, ‘Big Listen’ questions are also embedded throughout schemes of learning with more in-depth formative assessment at two points during each half term. At these assessment points, different students are also asked to prepare performances and/or share progress on compositions to check the full range of skills required to go above and beyond their target grades in each discipline of the GCSE qualification. At regular points throughout the two year course, students will complete full ‘mock-style’ listening assessments, which, alongside performance and composition checks and updates provides a detailed picture of students’ performance in line with skills and knowledge required to be successful in GCSE Music.  

The ultimate impact of this curriculum will be evidenced through excellent performance in external examinations with students consistently attaining at National Averages and the department always having a progress score of at least 0. Students will progress to study performing arts subjects at Post-16 level and will have developed a lifelong curiosity and appreciation for the arts. 

 

 

Curriculum in action

Knowledge Organisers

 

 

5 Year Road Map

Brownhills Music Curriculum