Music

Overview

A level Music allows our students to be creative, independent intellectuals who can articulate their ideas with confidence, write with style and flair, understand historical and social contexts of the music they study and perform and make informed, exciting choices about composition.

An enormously well-respected subject, the study of Music requires an analytical mind (perhaps with a strong understanding for Mathematics), a creative spark, a maturity and motivation to practice and compose, a discipline to approach wider reading and listening and a fluent writing style.

It is for this reason over the years, half of our Sixth Form Musicians have gone on to study the subject at top universities including Oxford and Cambridge, Bristol and Nottingham, as well as the conservatoires, including the Royal Northern College of Music, Royal College and Royal Academy of Music. A study by the University of Nottingham recently concluded that Music students develop ALL seven of the key skills which define employability during their studies and related musical activities. This helps to explain why they are so successful in the employment market.

Ideally you will have studied GCSE Music, but if you have not, at the discretion of the Head of Academic Music, you may be able to take A Level. You will need a sound theoretical basis (e.g. have passed Grade 5 ABRSM Theory), demonstrate that you are a keen composer, and be performing instrumental or vocal music at Grade 7 standard or above.

Curriculum

Our students study the Edexcel GCE course with its three main elements of Performance (30%), Composition (30%) and Appraising (40%), and should leave Eltham College as musicologists, eager to continue to develop their love of the subject.

  • Performing: you will perform an 8-minute recital in the March of the Upper 6th in front of a small audience. This constitutes 30% of the overall grade.
  • Composing: You will compose one piece of 4+ minutes in length to a Brief set by the board (coursework) and will study the compositional techniques of JS Bach’s four-part choral writing (examined in a 6-hour controlled assessment at the end of the U6). This constitutes 30% of the overall grade.
  • Appraising: You will study a wide range of set works from all parts of the world, genres and eras, and take an exam at the end of the U6 in which you will answer short questions about excerpts in the exam (very similar to the listening exam at GCSE), complete a short dictation task, complete an aural analysis of an unfamiliar piece of music (compare it to one of your set works) and write an essay about key musical features of your set works and link them to other pieces you know from the same genre.

The areas of study are:

  1. Vocal Music (Bach, Mozart, Vaughan Williams)
  2. Instrumental Music (Vivaldi, Clara Schumann, Berlioz)
  3. Music for Film (Rachel Portman, Danny Elfman, Bernard Hermann)
  4. Popular Music and Jazz (the Beatles, Kate Bush, Courtney Pine)
  5. Fusions (Familia Valera Miranda, Anoushka Shankar, Debussy)
  6. New Directions (John Cage, Kaija Saariaho, Stravinsky)

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.

Staff

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