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Head of Department - Mr C Western

Curriculum Ambition

Music is all around us. Whether it is heard, sung, played, streamed, experienced live or through technology, it is an integral part of our lives. It is a stimulus to memory, an expression of our emotions, and a way of “getting together” with friends. It is creative, collaborative and celebratory and yes, can be very challenging!  The music department firmly believes an exciting musical experience can stay in our memories forever.

Perhaps the broadest definition of music is that it is organised sound. Understanding music needs an understanding of musical conventions and at time, challenging of them! “Works of Art make rules; rules do not make works of art” - Claude Debussy.

Our activities in our music lessons are created to experience sound, achieved through practical tasks, be it in Year 7 through to Year 13. Students will demonstrate their understanding of this through activities combining listening, performing and composing.

By the end of Key Stage 3 pupils will have:

  • engaged with creative processes through improvisation and composition.
  • built an understanding of how musical elements work.
  • gained an aural knowledge of some of the greatest musical pieces of all time.
  • developed knowledge of a wider range of notes and improved their fluency in music notation - notation can grant access to a lifelong passion for music making if this skill is nurtured.
  • performed in groups or as a soloist, vocally or on an instrument.
  • developed valuable team skills.
  • been provided a route to being able to choose and succeed in further qualifications including GCSE and A Level Music and to play a part in our huge extra curricular musical life of the school and our community.


The music department consists of:

  • One large main teaching room with keyboards and grand piano
  • One music classroom with keyboards and 18 Windows computers
  • One recording studio with iMac and recording audio facilities
  • One sequencing room with two MacMini’s
  • One sequencing room with three Windows computers
  • One drum room
  • One small ensemble room inc. vocal PA
  • One sequencing room with resources ready to connect to students’ personal laptops
  • One exclusive Sixth Form Music study room
  • Nine instrumental teachers
  • Four instrumental practice rooms

We understand that every student has different learning styles and musical tastes, which is why our KS3, GCSE and A Level courses values all music styles, skills and instruments. We want to broaden our students’ minds and foster a love of all music with an education that students of all abilities and backgrounds will enjoy.

The Music Department consists of three full-time members of staff and eleven peripatetic staff.  The staff are all very passionate about music and the way in which it is taught in the school.  We offer Music at KS3, 4 and 5.

Instrumental lessons including vocal lessons are available in most instruments and these lessons happen on a weekly basis in one of our practice rooms.

Music lessons are taught in Music specific rooms all of which contain various instruments and music technology. One room is equipped with PC workstations used for accessing music software to help with composing and recording performances.

At Key Stage 3, students have two lessons per fortnight and within these lessons, we teach the musical elements through a variety of structured topics.



GCSE Music students follow the AQA syllabus.

The course is structured  as follows:

Component One – Listening.
Exam paper with listening exercises and written questions using excerpts of music.
Section A: Listening to unfamiliar music in exam conditions (68 marks)
Section B: Answering 3 two marker and 1 eight marker questions on their Study pieces (28 marks) –

Little Shop of Horrors 1982 off-Broadway version – the following three tracks:

  • Prologue/Little Shop of Horrors (overture)
  • Mushnik and Son
  • Feed Me

and  “Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A major”, K. 622, 3rd movement, Rondo.

Component Two – Performance.

As an instrumentalist and or/vocalist, students must submit one solo performance and one ensemble performance lasting a combined minimum of four minutes. The ensemble performance must last for a minimum of one minute. This is recorded in Year 11. Most students record their performances after school on a one to one basis recording as many times as they need.

Component Three – Composing.

Students must compose a free composition and a composition to a brief. The combined duration of the compositors must be a minimum of three minutes. Submissions must include a recording, with either a score, lead sheet or an aural guide.


AQA A Level Music

A Level students follow the AQA syllabus

AQA Music

Component 1: Appraising music

Area of study 1: Western Classical Tradition 1650-1910

Baroque: the solo concerto – Purcell, Vivaldi and Bach

Classical: the operas of Mozart

Romantic: the piano music of Chopin, Brahms and Grieg

Over the course, students will study and analyse the above areas of music from the Western Classical Tradition.

Throughout this study they will look at a selection of pieces in detail focussing on the main elements of music, such as melody, harmony, tonality, rhythm, instrumentation, structure and texture etc.

Students will learn how to study scores and also gain awareness of the context in which this music was composed.

Students do all of this through listening tasks, theoretical tasks, written tasks, practical tasks and independent tasks.

For the exam they will be expected to answer listening questions on unfamiliar music from these styles as well as answer more extended essay questions on set works from these areas of study.


Area of Study 2: Popular Music

Named artists:

Stevie Wonder

Joni Mitchell



Daft Punk


Area of Study 4: Music for Theatre

Named composers:

Kurt Weill

Richard Rogers

Stephen Sondheim

Claude-Michel Schönberg

Jason Robert Brown


Over the course, students will study and analyse various songs/musical numbers taken from the above artists/composers.

Throughout this study they will analyse several pieces in detail, focussing on the main elements of music, such as melody, harmony, tonality, rhythm, instrumentation, structure, texture, timbre, dynamics and articulation.

They will do all of this through theoretical tasks, listening tasks, practical tasks and independent tasks.

 For the exam students will be expected to answer listening questions on the above artists/composers from these styles as well as answer more extended essay questions on set works by a selection of the above. They will show your understanding of these styles by drawing on examples relevant to the questions asked.


AQA Music

Component 2: Performance


Students perform music using one or both of the following ways:

  1. instrumental/vocal: as a soloist and/or as a soloist in an ensemble 
  2. production: via music technology.

They perform a recital in Year 13 for a minimum of ten minutes.

For their performance students may choose to do a programme of shorter pieces, or a complete work or a single movement/s from a particular piece.

In lessons, students will share individual performances, rehearse ensemble performances and receive teacher and peer verbal feedback. They will also submit performances for more detailed written feedback.


AQA Music

Component 3: Composition


Students create two compositions of which the combined durations must be a minimum of four and a half minutes.

Composition 1: Composition to a brief

The composition must be in response to one brief from a choice of seven externally set briefs. The briefs may include different stimuli, such as:

  1. a poem or a piece of text
  2. photographs, images or film
  3. notation.
  4. Bach Chorales

Composition 2: Free Composition

Free compositions need not reference areas of study or a given brief.

Students will produce a full score or annotation, as well as a recording of both compositions.


Extra Curricular activities within the Music Department cater for all students and abilities and consist of; Jazz Band, Concert Band, Poynton Junior Singers, Senior Choir, Rock Bands, and we also host and help lead Poynton Music Academy on a Monday evening which is open to all students at the high school as well as students from our primary schools and local community.


We put on a wide range of concerts within the school and in the local and wider community and participate in a larger number of musical initiatives in Cheshire and beyond.


The Music Department
Head of Department Mr C Western
Teachers of Music Mr T Webster
Mr M Rawling

Poynton High School & Performing Arts College

Yew Tree Lane, Poynton, Cheshire SK12 1PU

01625 871 811