Students receive 1 lesson of Music per week in years 7 and 8 following a varied curriculum which enables them to explore and develop performance, composition, listening and appraising.

Each topic will last for half a term and students are assessed on their knowledge, skills and understanding of different musical concepts, genres and traditions. St John’s Music Department are passionate about making music accessible to all, for music to be inclusive.

The KS3 curriculum offers students the chance to experiment with sound, learn new instruments and broaden their theoretical knowledge of Music preparing them for GCSE study if they wish.

Year 7 Topics include Pop Music, Music and Film and in Year 8 Blues and Music in Advertising feature. All topics incorporate music theory alongside practical activity.

St John’s Music Department encourages practical activity in and outside of the classroom aiming to provide students with a wide experience of opportunities. Extra-Curricular activities include:

  • Choir
  • Orchestra
  • Music Theory Clubs
  • MADD – Music, Acting, Dance and Drama

Durham Music Service provides instrumental lessons in school with teachers offering:

  • Brass
  • Woodwind
  • Upper Strings
  • Vocals

Drum kit and Guitar tuition are available in school, delivered by external staff.

KS4: Edexcel GCSE Music

GCSE Music has a clear structure, designed to help students build upon their knowledge and skills from KS3 integrating performance, composition and appraising into all elements of the course. It is essential that students already play a musical instrument or sing and advisable that they receive tuition on their chosen instrument/voice. All students who study GCSE music will be expected to participate in extracurricular activities in school taking advantage of the variety of performance opportunities.

The value of music as an academic subject lies in its contribution to enjoyment and enrichment, for its social benefits, for those who want to engage in music formally as well as for fun. Music education enables lifelong participation in, and enjoyment of, music, as well as underpinning excellence and professionalism for those who choose not to pursue a career in music.
Taking music would assist in creating a broad and balanced curriculum. As well as an academic subject it helps with skills in teamwork, cooperation, self-confidence, responsibility, discipline and social skills, all key to a successful school life and future.

UNIT 1: Performing 30%
Content overview

  • Solo performing
  • Ensemble performing
  • Approaches to performing
Assessment overview
  • Performance time should be at least 4 minutes combined duration
  • Internally marked and externally moderated


UNIT 2: Composing 30%
Content overview

  • Developing musical ideas
  • Compositional techniques and strategies
  • Methods of notation
Assessment overview
  • 2 compositions of at least 3 minutes duration
  • One composition set to a given brief by Edexcel and one free composition defined by the student
  • internally marked and externally moderated


Content overview

  • Areas of study include Instrumental Music 1700-1820, Vocal Music, Music for Stage and Screen and Fusions
  • The development and understanding of Musical elements, contexts and music language
Assessment overview
  • A paper lasting 1h 45 minutes
  • Section A includes questions related to set works, one dictation exercise and unfamiliar listening
  • Section B of the exam is an extended response, comparing familiar with unfamiliar music