|About the Faculty|
Music is at the heart of the SJL community and the faculty of highly-experienced subject specialists offers opportunities for everyone. The faculty is a centre of activity through teaching and learning at all levels and in all styles.
The SJL Music Faculty aims to make music fully inclusive, accessible and enjoyable to all pupils at all levels, both in and out of the classroom. We aim to challenge existing musicians and nurture new talent. Students learn a wide range of instruments and singing - some for pleasure and some as part of GCSE and A-level courses. We have a healthy uptake of students opting for Music at GCSE and A-level. A wide variety of pupils take Music GCSE, including those who have learnt a musical instrument for many years and also those who get started in Year 10.
Our extra-curricular programme provides many opportunities for all types and abilities of musician, offering musical experiences which are highly inspiring and rewarding.
Awards and badges are given termly for contribution to excellence in Music leading to half and full colours in the Sixth Form.
|Curriculum Intent Statement|
Key Stage 3 Curriculum
Learning in Music is a largely practical activity and engages students at every level. Performance tasks are varied and include work on keyboards, tuned percussion, ukuleles and students' own instruments and voices. Practical work is often recorded in the school's recording studio or on iPads and independent work includes investigating the work of great musicians on-line, developing aural skills with music software and creating original compositions modelled on styles explored in class. Current topics studied in Years 7 and 8 include: What is Music?; Christmas Song project; Exploring Garageband; Ukulele; Pop chords; Variations; Jazz and Blues; Music in the Media; Music for an Occasion.
Students develop their ability to listen and respond to a range of musical stimuli. They improve coordination skills in practical work and learn to discern their own and others' work by reflecting on success criteria and by setting themselves realistic targets. By the end of Key Stage 3 students have an holistic approach to learning in Music and in an appreciation for a variety of styles and genres from cultures across the ages and the world. Many students continue learning beyond the classroom on a whole range of instruments and singing and learn through performing with others in many of the school ensembles.
Key Stage 4 Curriculum
The skills developed in Key Stage 3 are essential for students to continue to develop as performers and composers at Key Stage 4. Our Year 9 Music Enrichment course is incredibly popular and gives students deep and engaging opportunities to develop and mature as musicians and to make the transition between Key Stage 3 and GCSE Music. The breadth of learning expands to encompass music from around the world but also incorporates music from students' own experience. The use of music technology, the internet, the music industry and instrumental specialists all create a rich tapestry of learning experiences and opportunities. Current topics studied include Cover Versions; Song Writing; Protest Music; African Drumming; Minimalism; Music for an Occasion; preparing, managing and performing in their Showcase evening.
This breadth and depth of performing, composing and listening prepares students for study at GCSE music where these skills are challenged and developed. We currently follow the OCR board which enables students to engage with and study a wide variety of musical styles, developing skills in performance, composition and musical analysis. There are three key elements to the course: Performance, Composition, and Listening & Appraising.
This element of the course encourages students to develop creative thinking, aesthetic sensitivity, critical awareness, self-confidence, self-motivation and their own musical interests and skills, including the ability to make music individually and in groups. Performance is assessed by two performances recorded throughout the course:
- 1 solo performance (15%)
- 1 ensemble performance (15%)
The composition element of the course emphasises the creative aspect of music and allows students to appreciate the process of creating music. Students are encouraged to explore a range of compositional techniques for developing and manipulating ideas, based around the key areas of study. Composition is assessed by two pieces of music written by students: one in response to a brief, and one a free composition, under controlled conditions.
2 x compositions (15% each)
Examples of composition briefs are as follows:
- Area of Study 2: The Concerto Through Time Choose one of the given stimuli and create an instrumental piece for one solo instrument and accompaniment. The accompaniment should be for either a minimum of two orchestral instruments or a keyboard. The composition should be suitable for a performance at a lunch time concert in a church.
- Area of Study 3: Rhythms of the World Choose one of the given stimuli and create a composition based on one of the genres from this area of study. Your piece should be suitable to be performed as part of a celebration or a special occasion.
- Area of Study 4: Film Music Create a descriptive composition that would be suitable for performance at a reception following the premiere of a new film.
- Area of Study 5: Conventions of Pop Using either the Set of Words, or one of the Rhythmic Phrases, or the Chord Sequence, create a song in any style that would be suitable for performance in a school assembly.
Listening & Appraising
This aspect of the course develops students’ listening and appraising skills through four areas of study across a variety of styles and genres. Students explore the broader context of each area of study as well as looking at specific pieces. Students develop aural awareness and key listening skills, underpinned by an understanding of music theory.
The Listening & Appraising element of GCSE Music is examined by a one-and-a-half hour exam at the end of the GCSE course.
- Area of Study 2: Learners study the Concerto and its development from 1650 to 1910 through: The Baroque Solo Concerto; The Baroque Concerto Grosso; The Classical Concerto; The Romantic Concerto
- Area of Study 3: Rhythms of the World: Learners study the traditional rhythmic roots from four geographical regions of the world: India and the Punjab; Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East; Africa; Central and South America.
- Area of Study 4: Learners study music that has been composed specially for a film; music from the Western Classical tradition that has been used within a film and music that has been composed as a soundtrack for a video game.
- Area of Study 5: Learners study Rock ‘n’ Roll of the 1950s and 1960s; Rock Anthems of the 1970s and 1980s; Pop Ballads of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s and Solo Artists from 1990 to the present day
Results at GCSE level are consistently above 80% A*-C. Students at Key Stage 4 share a large responsibility for the success of school ensembles and regularly perform in concerts and gigs both in the local community and further afield. They act, too, as mentors to younger students finding their way in the school's musical community.
Key Stage 5 Curriculum
Board: Eduqas (A660PA or A660PB)
In A Level music you will further your understanding of musical styles and develop your skills in Composition and Performance. The study of set works looks at music in its context and compares and contrasts the development of musical styles over time - from Western Classical Traditions to modern pop, including music from different countries and cultures around the world.
Creative and expressive, yet academic and analytical, A Level music will challenge you, inspire you, and hopefully make you think a little differently about music and its relationship to our world. It is an opportunity to embrace and express your creative passions but also critically evaluate a range of musical styles, developing your skills in literary analysis. As an A Level musician you may take on responsibilities within the musical community such as leading ensembles or running extra-curricular groups. A Level music places a great emphasis on independent learning, preparing you well for university life. It is highly regarded as an academic subject by Oxbridge and other top universities.
Students that have studied Music A Level go on to read a variety of subjects at degree level including Law, English, Economics, Maths, Psychology and Sciences.
Students studying A Level Music in Year 12 are taught in a combined class alongside our Year 13 A Level Music students.
Unit 1: Performing Music
- Perform either as a soloist or as part of an ensemble for a mini-recital lasting 6-8 or 10-12 minutes.
- Externally assessed by a visiting examiner.
- 35% or 25% of the A Level course, depending on whether you choose Option A or B.
Unit 2: Composing
- Compose 2 pieces of music lasting in total 4-6 or 8-10 minutes.
- Externally assessed.
- 35% or 25% of the A Level course, depending on whether you choose Option A or B.
Unit 3: Musical Appraising
- This unit explores a range of musical styles and traditions. Students will develop skills in musical analysis through three key areas of study: “The Western Classical tradition”, “Musical Theatre” and “Into the Twentieth Century”.
- The unit is assessed by a 2 hour 15 minute written paper.
- Externally assessed.
- 40% of the A Level course.
You will gain more experience of practical music making, including composition and both solo and group performance. You will also have the opportunity to study a wide range of music including The Western Classical tradition, Musical Theatre and music of the Twentieth Century.
We would expect you to achieve a grade 6 or above in GCSE Music and be grade 5 level on your instrument or voice. We would consider students that haven’t studied GCSE Music if they have passed or are working towards Grade 5 Theory. If you have not taken GCSE Music but are interested in pursuing A Level Music please come and have a discussion with the Music Faculty. All students must have an APS of 4.5 or above.
The faculty runs a busy annual concert programme including formal Christmas, Spring and Summer Concerts in local churches and the Harpenden Public Halls, informal showcase evenings, atmospheric Jazz evenings and many community events such as Harpenden Carnival and Harpenden Schools Spring Festival. Our annual Scholar’s Trust concert is held in The Alban Arena. Many of our musicians are also often asked to perform at other local community and charity events.
Our extensive extra-curricular timetable includes Junior, Senior and Chamber Choirs, Concert Band, Up and Coming Junior Band, Jazz Band, Junior Jazz Band, Senior and Junior String Ensembles, Junior and Senior Saxophone Ensembles, String Quartet and Ukulele Group. The annual Music Tour is a highlight of the year with students travelling to various destinations around Europe to perform in concerts abroad. Recent destinations include Slovenia (2017), Switzerland (2018) and Spain (2019). In 2020 the tour will go to Italy with over 100 Sir John Lawes musicians!
Facilities for learning in Music are excellent and include a suite of iMacs running some of the latest music technology, a recording studio, a suite of practise rooms, a keyboard suite, a range of recording equipment and a number of instruments available for loan. The faculty works closely with the Hertfordshire County Music Service.