Pupils study music over 2 periods per week in year 7 and 1 period per week in year 8. Those pupils who currently play an instrument are encouraged to bring this to their music lesson and use it for performing and composing activities. Music is taught in a highly creative and practical style. We encourage regular performing, composing and listening to a wide variety of musical styles and cultures. Pupils also have access to a wide range of ICT software which is used to support and reinforce learning.

Pupils are encouraged to participate in the many varied activities on offer in the music department and especially the Year 7 choir and Beginner Ensemble. For pupils who have reached Grade 3 or 4 standard then more advanced ensembles are on offer such as Senior Wind Band, Orchestra, Chamber Ensembles and a Senior Choir. All of these rehearse weekly at lunchtimes or during tutor time and perform regularly in concerts within school and the wider community.


Year 7

The first term is spent building a picture of pupils prior and current musical experience – this is undertaken through performing and composing activities. The whole of year 7 is invited to participate in a concert at the end of term 1 showcasing songs learnt during lesson and also invited soloists to perform.

Other units studied include:

Elements of Music

Pupils learn about the elements of music through performing, composing and listening activities. This aspect feeds into all the other units covered throughout the year.

Rhythm, Pulse and Ostinato

Pupils are introduced to both traditional and graphic notation and will compose and perform using both formats. They will compose and perform a percussion piece, undertake African Drumming and learn about the use of ostinato in composition. Pupils will develop their performance skills, learning to perform in an ensemble with others, maintain an independent part and also undertake some improvisation.


In this unit pupils experience performing as part of a Samba band - performing without music and developing their aural skills. They also are introduced to the social and historical context of this genre.

Pitch Notation

Pupils study a brief unit introducing the concept of ‘reading notation’. This allows all pupils, regardless of whether they have the opportunity to learn an instrument, to understand how to read music. This is taught through performing and composing and is differentiated to allow those currently learning an instrument to study at their own level.


The concept of pitch is then studied further in the Gamelan unit. Pupils learn to play a traditional Gamelan piece using classroom tuned percussion instruments. This is done as authentically as possible and pupils are introduced to the method of notation used in this genre. Pupils also have the opportunity to compose and perform their own Gamelan piece along with listening to examples of Balinese and Javanese Gamelan.

Danse Macabre

Pupils are introduced to the concept of Programme Music through the study of Saint Saens’ ‘Danse Macabre’. They will learn to use extra musical ideas such as poems and art work to stimulate ideas for composition. Working in groups pupils will compose a descriptive piece of music using a poem as a stimulus. 


Year 8



In this unit pupils will develop their performing skills through the study of The Blues. They will cover the social and historical aspect of this genre through listening and will develop their awareness of the stylistic aspects through performing and improvising – this will including developing knowledge on chords, walking bass lines, improvising using the blues scale and call and response. 

Hip Hop

Here pupils will learn about the origins of this genre – starting with The Blues and how this influenced much of the music which followed. Using technology and acoustic instruments pupils will work in groups to compose their own Hip Hop inspired song focussing on creating their own lyrics, rapping, singing and harmonising a chorus, developing ostinato and using a recognised structure within the song.


Pupils study a variety of form and structure found in the Western Classical tradition such as Rondo, Binary and Ternary form. Here they will be given the opportunity to perform and compose a short piece focusing on one of these.

History of Music

Pupils will study the main historical periods in music. This will be undertaken through listening and then performing short examples of pieces from chosen periods along with composing using some of the characteristic features of the periods.


Pupils will follow the AQA GCSE Music specification. Pupils choosing GCSE music would need to be involved in weekly tuition on an instrument or voice either with visiting teachers at school or privately organised. Pupils are also expected to attend choir and other ensembles commensurate with their ability. The course develops listening and appraising, composing and performing through the AOS and the strands of Western Classical Tradition, Popular Music of the 20th & 21st Centuries and World Music.

  • Unit 1 Listening to and Appraising Music
  • Unit 2 Composing and Appraising Music
  • Unit 3 Performing Music
  • Unit 4 Composing Music


Unit 1: Listening and Appraising 20% of Total Marks

  • 1 hour listening paper
  • 5 Areas of Study will be included in the listening test. These are Rhythm & Metre, Harmony & Tonality, Texture & Melody, Timbre & Dynamics and Structure & Form.

These will be explored through music from 

  • Western Classical Tradition
  • Popular Music of the 20th & 21st Centuries
  • World Music


Unit 2: Composing 20% of Total Marks

1 individual composition (10%) based on one of the strands announced by AQA 

  • Western Classical Tradition
  • Popular Music of 20th & 21st century
  • World Music
  • Appraisal (10%) Appraisal of the composition process and outcome. 
  • Externally assessed.


Unit 3: Performing 40% of Total Marks

  • 2 Performances - 1 solo & 1 ensemble
  • Recorded and assessed internally and externally moderated
  • These can be on any instrument/voice


Unit 4: Composing Music 20% of Total Marks

  • 1 individual composition.
  • The composition may be in any style or genre. 
  • A recording and score must be submitted for all compositions. 
  • Internally assessed and externally moderated. 


The department offers 2 courses at KS5 - Edexcel A Level music and Edexcel Btec in Performing. A level music is a more ‘traditional/academic’ approach to the study of music whereas the Btec course offers a more vocational style and is heavily performance based. All pupils undertaking a KS5 music course will be expected to attend Senior Choir and ensembles commensurate with their ability in order to further develop their solo and ensemble playing and strengthen listening skills. In studying A level music pupils will strengthen their listening skills and analytical skills through the study of ‘set works’. Here pupils will begin to understand the context for composition, recognise a wide variety of musical features and draw comparisons between compositions from different eras. Composition builds on the work from GCSE but is now working to a specific brief.


Edexcel Music AS Level

  • Unit 1: Performing
  • Unit 2 : Composing
  • Unit 3 : Developing musical understanding


Unit 1: Performing

  • 30% of the total AS marks
  • Perform as a soloist and/or as part of an ensemble.
  • 5-6 minute performance of a selection of pieces. 
  • The standard of performance corresponds with Grade 5 of the graded examination boards. 
  • The performance is internally assessed


Unit 2: Composing

  • 30% of the total AS marks.
  • Composition of a 3 minute piece in response to a chosen brief.
  • Completion of a CD sleeve note to describe the composition.
  • Brief is chosen from 4 varied briefs set by Edexcel, which allow for vocal and/or instrumental compositions
  • A total of 15 hours to complete this coursework task.
  • The composition will be externally assessed. 


Unit 3: Developing Musical Understanding

  • 40% of the total AS marks
  • A – Listening
  • B – Investigating musical styles
  • C – Understanding chords and lines
  • Assessment is through a 2 hour examination paper. 
  • Sections A & B are based on ‘set works’ from an anthology which will be studied over the year.

Set works are taken from 2 categories:

  1. Instrumental Music
  2. Vocal Music – wide ranging covering music from 16th century through to Blues and Popular music. 


Section A is comprised of 2 questions featuring music from the set works - 1 vocal and 1 instrumental. Section B contains essay type questions again on the set works covered although you will specialise on the instrumental works for this section. In Section C pupils will use a score to analyse simple harmonic and melodic features in unfamiliar music and also complete a phrase from an SATB texture.


Edexcel Music A2 Level

  • Unit 4 – Extended performance
  • Unit 5 – Composition & Technical Study
  • Unit 6 – Further musical understanding


Unit 4: Extended performance

  • Pupils need to prepare a recital of between 12-15 minutes
  • This can be a combination of solo and ensemble pieces (although the ensemble must contain no more than 5 performers)
  • The standard of performance corresponds with Grade 6 of the graded examination boards although it is possible to perform pieces of Grade 5 standard if required. 


Unit 5: Composition & Technical Study

  • Pupils will complete one composition and one technical study
  • Composition – Pupils will complete one composition from a choice of four briefs published by Edexcel in September. 
  • These will be based on either instrumental music or applied music.
  • There will be 14 hours of controlled conditions in which to complete the composition (similar to AS)
  • Technical study – here pupils will work towards completing a 4 part chorale
  • This builds on AS harmony work and pupils will need to complete 8 -10 bars of a chorale in the style of J.S.Bach
  • There will be 3 hours of controlled conditions in which to complete this technical study


Unit 6: Further musical understanding

  • Pupils study 12 ‘set works; from Instrumental music and Applied music
  • Section A – Aural Analysis – this is a listening paper with questions on unfamiliar music related to the 2 areas of study.
  • Section B– Music in Context - Here pupils answer 2 questions on works from this section requiring you to identify given musical features and how they place the work in a particular social/historical context.

BTEC - Music Performing

The Music Department offers the National Certificate and Subsidiary Diploma course at this level. The course provides a more practical, real-world approach to learning alongside a key theoretical background.

  • The Level 3 BTEC National Certificate in Music is a 30 credit course that is equivalent to one AS level.
  • Another 30 credits could be completed in the following year in order to achieve the Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma, which is equivalent to one A2 level.
  • BTECs are not exam-based qualifications. 
  • All units are course-work based which will include live informal performances, recordings, concerts, video diaries, log books, portfolios etc.
  • In order to complete each unit, students will be graded Pass, Merit or a Distinction


The units studied will vary depending on the strengths and interests of students but units studied in the past include:

  • Pop Music In Practice
  • Performance Techniques
  • Working as an Ensemble
  • Music Project
  • Solo Music Performance
  • Musical Theatre


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The Folkestone School for Girls

Coolinge Lane

Folkestone, Kent

CT20 3RB United Kingdom


Tel: +44 (0) 1303 251125