Curriculum Intent

Music is a powerful, unique form of communication that can change the way students feel, think and act. It brings together intellect and feeling and enables personal expression, reflection and emotional development.

As an integral part of culture, past and present, it helps students to understand themselves and relate to others, forging important links between the home, school and the wider world.

The teaching of music develops student’s ability to listen and appreciate a wide variety of music and to make judgements about musical quality. It encourages active involvement in different forms of music making, both individual and communal, developing a sense of group identity and togetherness.

As an inclusive school the arts are a valuable means of developing confidence and communication skills, and facilitating expression, ideas, and feelings. In addition, through purposeful, imaginative and creative activities, students learn to take managed risks, trying out new ideas and new ways of working without fear of failure.


By the time a student leaves OPGS, students will have had the opportunity to:

  • perform on a wide variety of instruments including voice, keyboard, piano, drums, guitar, ukulele, and percussion items.
  • take peripatetic lessons on an instrument of their choice.
  • perform as part of a group including keyboard ensemble, guitar ensemble and vocal ensemble.
  • perform music in solo, duet, and larger group settings.
  • have an opportunity to perform in a variety of venues including the hall, outdoors, concerts and festivals.
  • learn how to use music technology software to record, edit, and develop their work.
  • study how to compose music and create several pieces of their own work.
  • study the work of famous composers from throughout music history and look at the development of music and musical instruments since the mediaeval period.
  • study music theory throughout Key Stage 3, in greater depth at KS4 should they choose music at GCSE level and in greater depth at KS5 should they choose music at A Level.
  • develop an appreciation of music by learning how to critically listen to music, analyse and understand how music works.
  • experience music in both live and recorded form, with enrichment from visiting live performances where appropriate.

Foundation Years: Years 7 and 8

Here at OPGS students spend one 60-minute lesson a fortnight studying the music curriculum in years 7 and 8. Year 9 is an eight-week carousel alongside the arts. Within music there are three strands of music to study and develop:

  • Performing
  • Composing
  • Appraising/Listening

We use a wide variety of music to explore and develop key musical skills and have a creative and practical curriculum.

Students will develop their knowledge of the ‘Elements of Music’ and use this to create their own pieces and perform existing works. Students have an opportunity to try a range of instruments and use technology to develop their music ICT skills.

Current topics include: -

Year 7

I’ve Got Rhythm

  • Exploring rhythm and pulse.
  • Understand that pulse is a fundamental upon which music is built and performed.
  • Develop a feeling for and an awareness of a regular pulse in music from different times and places.
  • Distinguish between pulse/beat and rhythm.
  • Develop an understanding of note values in terms of duration, bars and simple time signatures.

Saharan Sounds

  • Exploring textures and rhythms.
  • To recognise, perform and create African music with an understanding of musical conventions and processes.
  • To explore different rhythmic processes used in African music – cyclic rhythms, polyrhythms, syncopation and call and response and apply these to own composition and performance activities.
  • To learn about different African musical instruments and make connections between these sounds and timbres available within the classroom.
  • Listen to a range of different African music, identifying characteristic musical features.

Keyboard Skills

  • Exploring effective keyboard performance technique.
  • Understand how the classroom keyboard is used and played.
  • Practicing pieces of keyboard music to build skills and understanding of reading music and playing an instrument using correct posture, fingering and accuracy of pitch and rhythm.
  • Understand the importance of “warming up” before playing a keyboard or piano and the concept of piano fingering (1-5).
  • Explore different keyboard instruments from different times and places.

Year 8

All That Jazz

  • Exploring Jazz and The Blues.
  • Know how Chords and Triads are performed, notated, and used in Jazz and Blues e.g., within a 12-bar Blues Chord Sequence.
  • Know, recognise, and perform Chords I, I7, IV, IV7, V & V7 in different ways e.g., as a Walking Bass Line.
  • Understand and demonstrate what makes an “effective” Jazz improvisation e.g., using the notes of the Blues Scale.
  • Know and recognise different types and styles of Jazz and instruments, timbres and sonorities within Jazz and Blues music.

Computer and Video Game Music

  • Exploring global computer and video game music.
  • Understand the various ways in which music is used within a range of computer and video games from different times.
  • Understand, describe, and use common compositional and performance features used in computer and video game music.
  • Understand how to vary, adapt, and change a melody (character theme) for different atmospheres/scenarios.
  • Understand the importance of sound effects and how these are used at certain cues to enhance gameplay within a computer or video game.

Keystone Year: Year 9

What Makes a Good Song?

  • Exploring popular songs and musical arrangements.
  • Understand the different textural and structural elements of a song/popular song.
  • Understand and use the different musical information given on a lead sheet in creating a musical arrangement of a popular Song.

By the end of Key Stage 3 it would be helpful if learners recognise and have basic use of:

  • treble and bass clef notes plus their position on the keyboard.
  • musical elements including melody (pitch and rhythm), tempo, texture, sonority, dynamics, metre, form and structure, tonality, and basic harmony (e.g. chords I, IV and V).
  • Basic terminology such as forte, piano, triad, conjunct, disjunct, dissonant.
  • Recognition of such devices as repetition, imitation, sequence.

GCSE: Years 10 and 11

Eduqas GCSE Music, which is a two-year course in KS4, continues to focus on the three main strands of music, while allowing students to deepen their knowledge and repertoire of music. This includes looking at Musical Forms and Devices, Music for Ensemble, Film Music and Popular Music.

The course is divided as follows:

  • Performing - 30% - Students must perform 2 pieces; one solo and ensemble, or both ensembles. Options include traditional instruments, sequencing, DJing or rapping.
  • Composing - 30% - Students must compose 2 contrasting pieces: one free composition and one set by the exam board. This can be done on computers, performed live or hand notated.
  • Appraising - 40% - Listening exam which encompasses 8 listening questions; 2 of which are set works set by the exam board.

A Level: Years 12 and 13

Eduqas A Level Music, which is a two-year course in KS5, continues to focus on the three main strands of music, while allowing students to deepen their knowledge and repertoire of music. This includes looking at three Areas of Study; AoS A: The Western Classical Tradition, AoS B: Rock and Pop, and AoS E: Into The Twentieth Century.

Students have the option to specialise in performing or composing at A Level for 10% of the qualification.

The course is divided as follows:

  • Performing - 35 or 25% - Students must perform 2 or 3 pieces; one must be solo. Options include traditional instruments, sequencing, DJing or rapping.
  • Composing - 35 or 25% - Students must compose 2 or 3 contrasting pieces: one set by the exam board. This can be done on computers, performed live or hand notated.
  • Appraising - 40% - Listening exam which encompasses 3 AoS sections which include unprepared extracts, set work analysis and an essay on the development of the symphony.

Core Knowledge - Focus on Sound

At KS4 and KS5, core knowledge is embedded into lessons using an online system; Focus on Sound, which delivers lessons and tests students’ knowledge immediately. Students have access to this system at home as well as school.

Instrument Lessons

Lessons are available in:

  • Guitar
  • Piano
  • Drums
  • Trumpet
  • Trombone
  • Cornet
  • Voice*
  • Flute*
  • Clarinet*
  • Saxophone*
  • Violin*
  • Cello*

*Subject to interest

Enrichment and Extracurricular Activities

We have a varied extracurricular programme. Students can participate in:

  • Music Tech/Composition Club
  • Guitar Ensemble
  • OPGS Pop/Rock Band
  • Orchestra

Performance Opportunities

Students are given numerous and varied performance opportunities, both inside and outside of OPGS. We also participate in a range of music educational visits.