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 and to make judgements about musical quality. Students regularly work in groups on creative tasks, as well as developing the confidence as individual musicians to explore parts of the musical canon previously unfamiliar to them.


Year 7 to 9

All students in Years 7-9 have weekly Music lessons as part of their core timetable.  Through a range of listening, composition, analysis and practical tasks, students explore their own musical understanding and challenge their preconceptions. Singing and instrumental music-making are encouraged as part of each topic. The fundamentals of Music Notation are covered by all students (there is the opportunity to take Associated Board Theory grades). Students are also taught about the development of Music History and genres from the Renaissance to the present day.

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 all students in Years 7 and 8.

There are opportunities to compose not just for voice, classroom instruments or their own instruments but with Music IT software, and to make use of the Department’s suite of computers equipped with score writing and sequencing software.

Each class is allocated two teachers, in order to deliver personalised learning wherever possible, but in particular when students are working in groups on creative tasks.

Year 10 and 11

Students who study GCSE Music are so much more than just performers (although students reach outstanding standards). They are critics who are able to make judgements about musical quality, artists who make brave, creative compositions, historians who explore the social and historical contexts surrounding the musical canon, essayists who can write fluently about music, scientists and mathematicians who can deconstruct and analyse disciplined individuals who regularly practice their instrument(s).

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%). 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. For the History/Listening Written Paper, students will learn about the Development of Western Classical Music from 1600 – the present day, the features associated with Popular Twentieth Century Music and the characteristics of some non-Western World Music, including traditional Indian and African music. Students will learn to compose music in the style of all of these main topic areas, and will submit two compositions to the exam board towards the end of the course.

Trips, activities and clubs

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, St John’s Smith Square and St Alfege Church.

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.


  • 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)