Key Stage 3
- Each year just over half of the students who arrive in Year 7 at Wilson's School are proficient in at least one instrument. Many have achieved success in classical music examinations; others are accomplished performers in other traditions from India and elsewhere. Still others arrive with next to no musical experience. Every one of these boys deserves music lessons that are challenging, creatively and intellectually stimulating and (not least) fun. Our curriculum is carefully designed to make that happen for every boy who enters a department classroom.
By the end of their first two years at Wilson's, boys will have: performed blues music on keyboard, pop music on ukulele, Javanese Gamelan, African Drumming and Brazilian Samba; composed music of increasing sophistication using music technology, including a fanfare for the Royal Opera House and music for a BBC film; learnt to describe, analyse and evaluate music from all these styles and used this knowledge to inform their practical work.
As part of the music curriculum, all Year 7 students receive tuition on voice or one of the following wind instruments from a specialist member of staff: trumpet; French horn; trombone; flute; oboe; clarinet; bassoon; percussion. The Year 7 instrumental programme is (as far as we are aware) the only one of its kind in a school in the UK. Further details can be found on the department's micro site.
Year 7 and 8 students are strongly encouraged to participate in co-curricular ensembles. Some of our most popular ensembles with junior students include Junior Strings, Junior Wind Band, Junior Choir, Full Choir Trebles, Schola Choir, Cambiata Choir and Junior and Intermediate Jazz. The department regularly collaborates with the drama department; recent Junior productions have included Oliver!, Fiddler on the Roof, Beauty and the Beast and Les Misérables. Further details can be found on the department's site.
Key Stage 4
- The Edexcel course is pursued and students are given a great many performance opportunities, as well as the chance to see professional ensembles in action, during a series of concert visits to the South Bank Centre, the Barbican, and Fairfield Halls. It is expected that these students would take part in several of the ensembles run in the Music Department.
Unit 1: Performing Music: 30% of the total GCSE
Overview of content
- One solo performance
- One ensemble performance
- Recordings of both solo and ensemble performances (on CD/MD/MP3)
- Scores, professional recordings or written commentary (for Realisation) for both performances
Unit 2: Composing Music: 30% of the total GCSE
Overview of content
- Two compositions, or
- Two arrangements, or
- One composition and one arrangement
- Recordings of both compositions/arrangements (on CD/MD/MP3)
- Notated scores or written commentaries for both compositions/arrangements
Unit 3: Music – Listening and Appraising: 40% of the total GCSE
Students sitting the exam in 2016 and 2017 will sit the following exam:
Overview of content
Knowledge and study of set works in the Areas of Study
Overview of assessment
A 1-hour and 30-minute written paper. All questions relate to the set works. The paper will be in two sections:
- Section A: eight compulsory questions in response to extracts from the set works that will be played on a CD during the examination (68 marks)
- Section B: one question from two optional questions on the set works, requiring extended writing (12 marks)
Students sitting the exam from 2018 will sit a new exam. Precise details have recently been published on Edexcel's website.
Overview of content
- Knowledge and study of 8 set works in the 4 Areas of Study
- Appraising unfamiliar music which is similar in some way to the set works in the Areas of Study
- Melodic dictation
A 1-hour and 30-minute written paper. The paper will be in three sections:
- Section A: six compulsory questions in response to extracts from the set works that will be played on a CD during the examination (68 marks)
- Section B: A question testing candidates' melodic dictation skills
- Section C: Two questions requiring extended writing. One question asks candidates to appraise an unfamiliar piece of music which they hear in the exam, complete with a skeleton score. The second question asks candidates to compare a set work they have studied with a similar piece that they hear for the first time in the exam.
Key Stage 5
- For some students, the A level Music course at Wilson's represents an active preparation for the pursuit of further musical training and subsequent professional musicianship. For others, it is a highly stimulating contrast to other A level subjects.
Unit 1: Performing Music
This unit gives students the opportunities to perform as soloists and/or as part of an ensemble. Teachers and students can choose music in any style.
Any instrument(s) and/or voice(s) are acceptable as part of a five-six minute assessed performance. Notated and/or improvised performances may be submitted.
Unit 2: Composing
This unit encourages students to develop their composition skills leading to the creation of a three-minute piece in response to a chosen brief. Students also write a CD sleeve note to describe aspects of their final composition and explain how other pieces of music have influenced it.
Unit 3: Developing Musical Understanding
This unit focuses on listening to familiar music and understanding how it works Set works from the anthology provide the focus for the first two sections, through listening and studying scores. It is recommended that students familiarise themselves with each work as a whole, before learning how to identify important musical features and their social and historical context. In the third section, students use a score to identify harmonic and tonal features, and then apply this knowledge in the completion of a short and simple passage for SATB.
Unit 4: Extended Performance
This unit gives students the opportunities to extend their performance skills as soloists and/or as part of an ensemble. Teachers and students can choose music in any style. Any instrument(s) and/or voice(s) are acceptable as part of a 12-15 minute assessed performance of a balanced programme of music. Notated and/or improvised performances may be submitted.
Unit 5: Composition and Technical Study
This unit has two sections: composition and technical study. The composition section further develops students' composition skills, leading to the creation of a final three-minute piece in response to a chosen brief. The technical study section builds on the knowledge and awareness of harmony gained in Unit 3 section C through the medium of pastiche studies. Students must complete two tasks in this unit choosing from either one composition and one technical study or two compositions or two technical studies.
Unit 6: Further Musical Understanding
This unit focuses on listening to music, familiar and unfamiliar, and understanding how it works. Set works from the anthology, using different selections from those in Unit 3, provide the focus for much of the unit. It is recommended that students familiarise themselves with each work as a whole, before concentrating on important musical features, context and/or elements of continuity and change. Students should also listen to a wide range of unfamiliar music related to the two compulsory areas of study. They should learn how to compare and contrast pairs of excerpts, contextualise music and identify harmonic and tonal features. The last students to sit these exams in their current form will be those who sit AS Music in summer 2016 and A2 Music in summer 2017. Students who sit their exams after this date will follow a new revised specification which can be found here. Students will choose to enter either AS Music or A Level music. The school follows the Edexcel specification.