Music News

Be a Chorister for a day

The Cathedral is hosting two events in June for boys in Years 2 and 4 and girls in Year 5 to experience life as a chorister...

Year 13 musicians say goodbye

Our departing musicians carefully selected the programme of music for their final concert at the College...

Thanks to our musicians and choristers

The run up to Christmas is always a busy time of year for everyone, but especially for our musicians and choristers!...

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With a strong tradition of music, St Edward's College is the Choir School to the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, and admits a number of pupils each academic year to Year 7 on Specialist Musicians Places.

Every pupil at the College has the opportunity to learn a musical instrument thanks to the experienced Peripatetic Teaching available.

Offering an impressive array of extra-curricular music activities which utilise the superb studios and recital areas; pupils can take part in a variety of choirs, orchestras, instrumental ensembles, academic support groups as well as a number of solo performance opportunities.

Music is taught to all Key Stage 3 pupils and is chosen for GCSE by pupils who have a general interest in many types of music and have good performing skills as a singer or instrumentalist. Those who can read music fluently and perform at ABSRM Grade 5 level have the option to study it at A Level.

All pupils benefit from the excellent facilities in the department with three specialist music classrooms equipped with computer programs such as Sibelius 7 and Audacity, six practice rooms, the Recital Room for smaller performances and the Annex for Chorister practice.

Pupils have at their disposal; a Grand and Baby Grand Piano; a large number of clavinovas and upright pianos; a full set of guitars and bass guitars; two drum kits; and a full set of electronic keyboards. There is also a specialist storage room for pupils’ instruments equipped with CCTV.

To encourage a lifelong love of music, and to enhance learning, pupils enjoy trips to concerts and welcome visitors to the College.  Year 7 visit the Philharmonic Hall to listen to the RLPO and take part in a Medieval Music Workshop, with the Senior Orchestra touring the Rhineland and Paris and attending various other external concerts for College choirs and instrumental ensembles. The Sacramento Youth Orchestra from California performed for pupils at the College recently as part of their European Tour.

Pupils can also showcase their own talents to delighted audiences by taking part in one of the three Music Concerts held during the academic year at the College or by performing at the weekly Recital after school on a Friday afternoon.

The College recently welcomed back Old Edwardian and professional singer Nicholas Mulroy to give a Masterclass to pupils. Nicholas is a tenor soloist and is Director of Chapel Music and Assistant Director of College Music at Girton College, Cambridge.  He is one of many Old Edwardians who have gone on to great musical success, notable others include Sir Eugene Goossens, conductor; Leon Goossens CBE, oboist; Jonathan Kenny, countertenor; Jane Rogers, viola player; and Stephan Wallace, countertenor.

This success looks set to continue into the future with former pupils recently gaining places at the National Youth Orchestra, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and at Oxbridge.

Curriculum Overview 

Music is compulsory for pupils in Year 7, 8 and 9.

Year 7

Pupils receive two lessons of music per week and explore the musical elements through a variety of topics:

Singing: vocal health; how to warm-up the voice; the mechanics of singing; the importance of articulation, dynamics and dictation; learning the music for St Edward’s Mass and performing a motet from memory.

Getting Started: an introduction to notation and the basics of playing the keyboard through the performance of a Theme Tune.

Rhythm and Pulse: developing a feeling for and awareness of a regular pulse; distinguishing between rhythm and pulse; note values; bars and notation; composition of rhythmic pieces.

Medieval Music: listening and responding to a variety of Medieval music from different times and different places; drones and ostinato in Medieval music; Melisma and Plainsong; performance of a variety of sacred and secular pieces of Medieval music.

Descriptive Music: how art/images have been used as a stimulus for musical composition; Mussorgsky and “Pictures at an Exhibition”; Saint-Saëns and Carnival of the Animals; composing a descriptive piece of music.

Musicals: the ingredients of a Musical; preparation and performance of a scene from a musical.

Instruments of the Orchestra: layout of the Classical Orchestra; sounds of the orchestra; fanfare techniques; composition of a brass fanfare.

Ladders: investigating musical scales; melodic patterns; composing a melody.

Form and structure: phrases; binary; ternary; rondo; theme and variations; composing a piece of music in a named form.

My Instrument: performance techniques; how to stand; speaking to an audience; body language; performance of a piece on own chosen instrument.

Experimentalism: what is music?; Objects as instruments; extended vocal techniques; composing an experimental piece.

Minimalism: the minimalist style; Clapping music; Pendulum Music; minimalism and pop music; composing a piece in a minimalist style.


Year 8

Pupils receive one lesson of music per week and explore the musical elements through the following topics:

Samba: Samba instruments; background and origins of Samba; polyrhythms and call & response; improvisation and solo performance skills.

Music and Space: how space and the planets have been used as a stimulus for music; making and manipulating samples using Audacity; composing a Space piece using Audacity.

Theory and Keyboard: simple rhythm/melody dictation; key signatures; rhythm functions on the keyboard; theory and performance of the piece Someone Like You.

Guitar: the role of different guitars in a pop/rock band; three chord riffs; simple bass lines; composing and performing a chord sequence with a bass line.

Soundtracks: Leitmotifs; themes in film soundtracks; performing a number of James Bond Themes; composing a soundtrack to the new James Bond film trailer Spectre; Cuesheets.

My Instrument: How to practise; preparing a solo performance.


Year 9

Pupils receive one lesson of music per week and explore the musical elements through the following topics:

Creating a cover:identifying from a wide variety of popular music; analysing original and covered versions of a song, using the compare & contrast format; performance skills- playing riffs, chord patterns.

Theory and Keyboard: performance and notation of more complex rhythm/melody; understanding chords; keyboard performance of Firework on the keyboard.

Guitars: performing more difficult riffs and chords.

The Blues: the origins of the Blues; improvising; triads; the 12-bar blues; the blues scale; swung rhythms; seventh chords; the use of the 12 bar blues structure in popular songs.

Dance Music: Technical advancements in Music; influence of technology on club dance music; structure of club dance music; composing a piece of club dance using Dance jay.

My Instrument: Solo performance to the class on an instrument of choice.


Year 10 and 11 

In Years 10 and 11 pupils study the OCR GCSE course. Throughout the course, pupils will have opportunities to perform music on an instrument, compose in a style tailored to their own musical interests and listen to and discuss a wide range of music.

The course itself is divided into four units– Integrated Tasks, Practical Portfolio, Creative Task and the Listening test.

How Pupils are assessed.
Unit 1 - Integrated Tasks 30% - Pupils will record one performance and one composition for their own instruments. They will also write a commentary which links both of these together.

Unit 2 – Practical Portfolio 30% - Pupils will record one ensemble performance that shows an understanding of how parts work together. They will also record one composition in the style of a waltz. They will keep a log which tracks the progress of their composition and write how successful they feel their piece is in an evaluation.

Unit 3 - Creative Task 20% - Pupils will create a short composition based on a stimulus which will be set by OCR. They will have 45 minutes to compose and present their piece.

Unit 4 – The Listening Test 20% - Pupils will complete a written examination in which they will listen to extracts of music and answer questions about them. This examination lasts for one hour.

Year 10

Advent Term
Example of Areas to be studied:

• Waltz composition – Pupils will work on basic compositional techniques such as, melody writing and harmonic structure. They will write a waltz log (diary of progress) including information about progress made and suggested ways to refine/improve their work.
• Solo Performance - What makes a good performance? Introducing the basic requirements for choosing a piece and independent practice.
• Music for dance - Pupils will study: Tango, Salsa, American Line Dance, Irish Jig and Bhangra. They will understand the background, context, style and musical characterises of each dance.


Lent Term
Example of Areas to be studied:

• Waltz composition – Pupils will continue to prepare a waltz, written for the piano. They will understand how to develop a melody.
• Performance - Ongoing independent practise for performance
• Music for dance – Disco and Club Dance. Pupils will understand the background, context, style and musical characterises of each dance.
• Descriptive music – Pupils will study Programme music and how composers from the Romantic period to the present day have used music to convey events, people, places and moods. They will study the works of composers such as: Berlioz, Mendelssohn, Mussorgsky and Smetana.

Trinity Term
Example of Areas to be studied:

• Waltz composition – Pupils will complete and refine their waltz composition and waltz log.
• Performance – Pupils will give their final Solo performance.
• Descriptive music - Pupils will study Film music and how composers use music to complement the action on screen. They will study the works of composers such as: John Williams and Hans Zimmer
• Creative Task - Pupils will begin the Creative Task by understanding basic melody writing techniques and how to use the musical stimulus to create a melody. They will also understand basic harmonic progressions and how a melody moves.

Year 11

Advent Term
Example of Areas to be studied:
• Integrated composition - Pupils will begin working on their integrated composition – a piece related to their solo performance. They will also begin working on a commentary – making links between their solo performance and composition.
• Performance –Pupils will being practising an ensemble piece of music.
• Shared Music – Pupils will study: Romantic Song, Pop Ballad, the Classical Concerto and Jazz, focusing on how a soloist is supported by an accompanist, how musicians work together in ensembles how voices combine in choral singing
• Creative Task – Pupils will use basic melody writing skills to create a 24 bar melody in a set amount of time.

Lent Term
Example of Areas to be studied:

• Integrated composition – Pupils will complete and refine their composition and commentary.
• Performance –Pupils will continue to practise their ensemble piece of music and give a final performance of this.
• Listening examination preparation - Revision of Dance/Shared/Descriptive Music topics and completion of practise papers.
• Creative Task – Pupils will continue to develop their melody writing skills and complete several timed exercises in preparation for the exam

Year 12 and 13

In Years 12 and 13 pupils study the Edexcel AS and A Level course. It develops the skills covered at GCSE but it is important that pupils listen to music in their own time and participate in some of the school’s many co-curricular musical activities in order to extend their working knowledge of different musical styles.

The course itself is divided into three sections – Performing, Composing and Musical Understanding.

Performing 30% - At AS level, pupils perform 5-6 minutes of music equivalent to grade 5 or above on their chosen instrument or voice which is assessed internally. For A2 a more testing recital of around 12-15 minutes equivalent to grade 6 or above is required. Credit is given for performances at a higher level.

Composition 30% - At AS a short composition (at least 3 minutes) in response to a brief published by the exam board can allow students to write music in a chosen style, while at A2 pupils can either produce two compositions in response to a set brief or develop a musical technique and a composition.

Musical Understanding 40% - Both AS and A2 pupils study in detail about twelve different extracts of music as specified by the exam board. These can range from a Concerto or Symphony to a film score or pop song. Their knowledge of these works is assessed through examination at the end of the year. The A2 exam covers Aural Analysis: The recognition of style and genre, comparisons of similar pieces of music, and the recognition of chords, keys and cadences. Music in Context –relating to music studied during the course. Continuity and Change: Focusing on musical features which demonstrate the development of music over time and relate to music studied during the course. While all of these areas are worked on in the classroom, it is vital that pupils develop their skills and knowledge outside the classroom through listening and participation in extra-curriculum music groups.

Advent Term
Example of Areas to be studied:
• What makes a good performance?
• This leads to a class performance of one piece.
• Pupils study the context of the music set extracts and how they are constructed and performed.
• Through studying the prescribed vocals works, understand how the song works in terms of its key musical elements of melody, harmony, structure, rhythm, instrumentation etc.
• Exploration of common chords and their inversion.
• Starting work on basic harmonic analysis. Cadences and formulaic progressions.
• Identifying Keys and non-harmony notes.
• Listening and researching compositional techniques in preparation for the composition brief.

Lent Term
Example of Areas to be studied:
• Controlled assessment time (15 hours) during which compositions will be written up and sleeve note to accompany the work completed in the final week of term.
• Study will of the four instrumental set works.
• Practice exercises identifying key, chords, cadences, non-harmony notes and devices.
• Harmonising the full phrase for SATB.
• Aural exercises on the vocal set works.
• Final Solo performance.