Music at Key Stage 3

Students in Year 7 study a range of topics and develop a breadth of skills in music:

  • They look at 3 songs: I ‘Believe I Can Fly’, ‘Valerie’ and ‘I’m A Believer’ and learn these in 2 part harmony.
  • They focus on the elements of music, using percussion instruments to describe these.
  • They study the music of Indonesia and incorporate the elements into a Gamelan performance.
  • They study a wide range of keyboard techniques and look at popular keyboard pieces.
  • They study ‘Stir It Up’ by Bob Marley and develop their keyboard skills by learning the parts to this piece.
  • They look at guitar riffs and hooks from popular songs.

In year 8 students:

  • Study Blues music; looking at the contextual elements and learning a piece of blues on the keyboard.
  • Look at the music of South America.
  • They form a class Samba band and learn the different rhythms and grooves from this music.
  • Study Mike Oldfield’s ‘Tubular Bells’.
  • They learn the riffs from this then incorporate music technology to record a sequenced version into ‘Cubase’.

GCSE in Music

Why study this subject?

You will develop skills taught in year 7 and 8 through performance and composition. A GCSE in Music requires an academically rigorous study from the most basic of music notation to analysing full orchestral scores. You will be expected to perform on a single instrument and in an ensemble; compose music and become familiar with music technology and the skills required for a future in sound engineering and performance.

What will I learn?

At the beginning you will follow a main instrument, whether this is a traditional instrument (e.g. flute, piano etc...) or the music technology route (computer music and sound engineering). You will continue to develop these skills so you can produce your own music and perform in front of others. You will study different genres of music and be taught how to analyse and read music notation.

How will I be taught?

GCSE music lessons are much more intense than at KS3, concentrating on specific skills. The lessons are a mixture of practical music making, group work, listening skills and exam preparation. This will ensure appropriate pace and challenge in your learning and thus support you in achieving the best possible grade.

How will I be assessed?

Your class work and homework will be regularly marked and feedback given will ensure you know how to improve your attainment. Regular tests will allow you to practise exam-style questions and improve your understanding of the course. You will also be expected to perform in several small concerts throughout the course either solo or in an ensemble.

What qualifications will I get at the end of the course?

You will gain a GCSE in Music at a grade that reflects your potential, hard work and commitment.

What can this qualification lead to afterwards?

The skills taught in GCSE Music can also help towards a career within the music industry, whether this being a practical musician or working in a studio. It teaches a wide range of transferable skills such as problem solving, score analysis, mathematical skills, acoustics, sound engineering, score reading and ensemble musicianship.

Post-16 Progression

A-Level Music and Music Technology are challenging A-Level courses open to all who achieve a high grade in GCSE Music. This supports applications to a number of degree options at University, including Music, Music Technology, Engineering, Acoustics, Physics, Maths, Popular Music and Music Performance.

How much homework will I have to do?

Homework will involve lots of instrumental practice. You should be aiming to practise your instrument/computer skills for at least an hour a week.

Where can I find out more about this qualification?

You can speak to Miss Bywater for more information who will be able to answer any queries with regards the GCSE Music course. You can also access the following link


King Edward VI Academy Trust Birmingham is a charitable company limited by guarantee. Registered number 10654935. Registered office: Foundation Office, Edgbaston Park Road, Birmingham, B15 2UD. Academy tel: 0121 464 4428.

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