Music

Overview

The study of Music at Eltham College goes way beyond simply listening to some core repertoire, or playing on classroom instruments. We encourage students to think like musicians, constantly asking questions of themselves, developing their ability to listen, to appreciate a wide variety of music from cultures from all around the world. Students regularly work in groups on creative tasks, as well as developing the confidence as individual musicians to explore parts of musical worlds previously unfamiliar to them.

Curriculum

Year 7 to 9

All students in Years 7-8 have weekly Music lessons as part of their core timetable, and it is an option in Year 9. Singing and instrumental music-making are a fundamental part of our lessons, and each term students will study one practical scheme of work, and one composition scheme where they write their own music using our computer software.

Our curriculum is largely skills-based, and aims to introduce students to a range of composers, artists and performers from a range of backgrounds, countries and genders. For example, we do not just study ‘The Blues’ in Year 8, but study the skill of improvisation, through which we encounter music from jazz, blues, Indian classical music and Scottish folk music. We aim to widen students’ experiences and excite them about new music.

Listening and appraising work starts in Year 7, with the aim of developing the skills necessary for musical analysis at GCSE. We introduce analytical terminology associated with the elements of music from Year 7, building a vocabulary which will assist students who choose to take the subject at GCSE and/or A-Level.

Topics studied include:

  • Year 7: Showstoppers! (singing), Baroque music, Film Music, Music from Africa
  • Year 8: Improvisation, Holst’s Planets Suite, Music for Animation, Musicals, and Protest Music.

All students in Year 7 perform in a College Concert during the course of the year, and curriculum trips to hear professional concerts in a London venue are organised for students; our latest trip being to see Don Giovanni at the Royal Opera House.

All our Key Stage 3 students make use of the department’s suite of 26 computers with the latest versions of Sibelius and Cubase Artist software, enabling them to compose in a variety of styles and genres. We also have a subscription to MusicFirst Classroom, which includes Focus on Sound and sequencing programme Soundtrap. Students are given a personalised log-in for the duration of their time studying Music, and this enables them to compose using this software on any device (even a phone) anywhere there is an internet connection.

In Year 9, the curriculum is focused on developing the skills necessary for success at GCSE (although we do not start the GCSE course until Year 10). Students study a range of topics, each of which includes a short ‘set work’ which exposes students to the type of analysis work done at GCSE. They develop their composition and performance skills, and work closely with their peers in the following projects: Musical fusions, Song-writing, Music for Film soundtracks, Minimalism, Electronic Dance Music and Popular song – cover versions.

Year 10 and 11

Students who study GCSE Music are so much more than just performers (although you will be confident instrumentalists / singer). Studying GCSE Music allows you to develop a range of valuable skills, and study a diverse range of music.

We follow the Edexcel specification, which is a challenging GCSE course which develops a range of valuable skills for both the further study of music at 6th form and beyond, but also for the world of work. Students are encouraged to engage critically and creatively with a wide range of musical styles, develop an understanding of music from different cultures and contexts, and reflect on how music is used in the expression of personal and collective identities. Whether you intend to continue your study of music, or just further your personal skills, we hope to develop the skills to engender a lifelong love of music, and to excel at GCSE and beyond.

The GCSE Edexcel exam specification helps our students develop these skills through three main elements: Performance (30% of the overall GCSE mark), Composition (30%) and History/Listening (40%).

  • Performing: Students who choose GCSE Music will already be learning at least one instrument and must continue with this instrument for the duration of the course. You will record one solo and one ensemble performance (submitted as coursework) and should be playing at a minimum of Grade 4 standard when you start the course.
  • Composing: Students will learn to compose music in various styles and will submit two compositions to the exam board towards the end of the course.
  • Appraising: This unit is assessed at the end of the course in an exam in which you listen to extracts and respond to questions on eight set works. These include:

Area of Study 1 – Instrumental Music 1700–1820

– J.S. Bach: 3rd Mvt, Brandenburg Concerto no. 5

– L van Beethoven: 1st Mvt, Piano Sonata no. 8 ‘Pathétique’

Area of Study 2 – Vocal Music

– H Purcell: Music for a While

– Queen: Killer Queen (from ‘Sheer Heart Attack’)

AOS 3: Music for Stage & Screen

– S Schwartz: Defying Gravity (from ‘Wicked’)

– J Williams: Main title/rebel blockade runner (Star Wars Episode IV)

AOS 4: Fusions

– Afro Celt Sound System: Release (from ‘Vol 2: Release’)

– Esperanza Spalding: Samba Em Preludio (from ‘Esperanza’)

Trips, activities and clubs

There are a range of trips for our exam students to extend their knowledge of the set work composers and works.

The music calendar is extremely active with over 50 performances taking place every academic year, ranging from small intimate performances within the College, to large scale concerts in external venues such as Cadogan Hall, Blackheath Halls and the Royal Naval Chapel, Greenwich.

Eltham College is one of the few schools to have exclusive use of Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club on a Saturday lunch time slot, which is testament to the quality and ability of our musicians.

Staff

  • Mr P Showell BMus (Hons), FRSA (Director of Music)
  • Ms L Swadkin BMus (Hons), PGDip (Head of Academic Music)
  • Miss D Gibbs BA (Mus) PhD
  • Mrs J Lewis GTCL (Hons), LTCL, FTCL, ARCM (Music Administrator & Assistant to the Director of Music)

Heads of Section

  • Miss D Bailey GGSM (Hons) (Head of Woodwind)
  • Ms J Brits BMus (Hons) MMus (Head of Keyboard)
  • Mr T Bullard MA (Cantab) (Head of Singing)
  • Mr N Miller BA, MMus, ARCO (Head of Organ)
  • Miss J O’Leary BMus (Hons) Dip (CSM), LTCL, ARAM
  • Mr C Nall GGSM (Hons) (Head of Percussion)
  • Mr S Thompson ARCM Dip TCL (Head of Brass)