Key Stage 3

KS3 Music

At KS3 (years 7-9) students study music for one lesson a week. Whatever musical experience a student has had at primary school, we aim to build on this with a strongly based practical course where singing, playing instruments such as keyboards, ukuleles, guitars, and drumkits; composing and improvising are deeply embedded. All students learn to read conventional notation, chord boxes and tablature to enable them to perform a range of music on a variety of instruments.

Our KS3 provision broadens students’ musical horizons, and aims to give students the skills and knowledge they need to discover new styles and pursue the musical activities of their choosing in the future.

Topics covered include the following:

Year 7: Rhythm, melody, chords and bass line; singing technique and a cappella songs; instrumental skills on keyboard, guitar, ukulele, bass, and drums; playing by ear; pitch and rhythm notation and body percussion. There is an emphasis on acquiring practical musical skills that will be built upon throughout KS3, and preparing those wishing to pursue GCSE music at Key Stage 4. 

Year 8: Further work on instrumental and ensemble skills, further chords, singing, 12-bar blues, playing by ear, theme and variations, music from Africa, Rock music.  

Year 9: More advanced band skills through Motown, Reggae, Rap; song writing; film music.


Key Stage 4

GCSE Music


Subject Leader:

Ms C Yangopoulos


Exam Specification:

AQA GCSE Music 8271

QN Code:



The music GCSE will motivate andstretch students of all abilities, equipping them with the skills and experience to succeed at GCSE and go on to further study if they wish.The GCSE course appreciates all styles and genres, skills and instruments, catering for different learning styles and musical tastes.

Summary of course content

During GCSE Music pupils study three musical disciplines, composing 30%, listening 40% and performing 30%. The GCSE course is largely comprised of coursework 60% with 40% of the overall grade gained from a one and a half hour listening exam.


Students have to study two set musical pieces from four different musical traditions, analyse and dissect the musical elements and contexts in which the pieces have been composed. To do this pupils will learn how to read basic staff notation, identify key signatures and critically listen to unfamiliar music.


Students are required to perform at least four minutes of music on a chosen instrument that also includes the voice. During class time pupils will have the opportunity to rehearse and refine their performance skills. Students should also take an active interest in rehearsing outside of the classroom.


Pupils have the opportunity to study a variety of compositional techniques and from their research and learning, produce two compositions one from a set brief and one free choice. Compositions will be either written down using staff notation, lead sheets and chord diagrams, or produced using Cubase software.

The Music GCSE is perfect for those students who enjoy practical music making and are open to learning about compositional techniques and analysing sound in a critical manner.


This qualification is linear which means that students will sit all their exams and submit all their non-exam assessment at the end of the course. Over the two years in key stage 4, pupils will build up a body of knowledge on musical history, notation and theory. This will form the basis for an exam paper centered on listening exercises and written questions using excerpts of music.


Elsewhere pupils will have the opportunity to refine their performance skills on a chosen instrument, vocal or DJ. Pupils will need to perform at least four minutes of music, one of which must be as part of an ensemble.


For the composing element of this course pupils are required to produce two compositions over the two year course. One, from a set brief, the other as a free composition. Pupils will notate, use chord diagrams, record and annotate these compositions.                                                                                              

What type of activities take place in lessons?

During the GCSE, some lessons will be practical based and others will be more theoretical. Students will be required to listen attentively to unfamiliar music from all four areas of study, describe musical elements, musical contexts and use musical language (including staff notation).

Area of study 1: Western classical tradition 1650–1910 (compulsory)

Area of study 2: Popular music

Area of study 3: Traditional music

Area of study 4: Western classical tradition since 1910

In practical lessons students need to engage in independent and high quality rehearsal, preparing two pieces of music for their portfolio. Students need to rehearse out of the class as well as within lessons to hone their personal musical skill.

For GCSE Music composition, pupils will learn score writing and use software to realise their compositional ideas. Pupils will learn about various compositional techniques and will apply knowledge gained from the listening aspect of this course into practice.

What type of homework tasks will be set?

  • Instrumental rehearsal (at least 15 minutes per day recommended).
  • Research.
  • Compositional tasks
  • Writing up or completing class work.
  • Listening and musical comprehension.
  • Revision

Access to a computer at home can be helpful but if this is not possible, students must be prepared to spend some extra time completing work at lunchtime or after school.

How will it help me in the future?

GCSE music gives you a fantastic opportunity to learn more about something that is a major part of all our lives; whether you go onto study music at a higher level or not, you will develop skills that will remain with you for life and mean you can understand, appreciate and enjoy music in all its forms.


Music is recognised as a challenging but enjoyable subject. This subject leads well into Music A Level, Music Technology A Level or the BTEC level 3, but you might just see it as a way of studying something creative and varied at Key Stage 4. If you are interested in music and music performance, this is the course for you!

How will this course build on what I have studied in Year 9?

Music at Key Stage 4 centres on performance composition and listening. You will further analyse music and gain the knowledge to reinforce your existing practical skill set. If you have enjoyed the band skills modules you may enjoy this course, if you have enjoyed listening to music and want to know how it is made you will enjoy this course.

What skills will I develop?

Musicians are recognised as being well-rounded people who can work independently and are able to persevere at a skill. Making music develops your teamwork skills and allows you to explore your creativity.

You will also gain the skills required to read music as a creative language and convey your musical ideas to others through notation and practical theoretical application.