The impact of a musical education on cognitive development is well established. Music positively impacts whole-brain development in a way no other subject can, making it essential and invaluable for developing young minds.
The fundamental aim of the music department at St Mary’s is to instill and nurture musical talent in all students and to provide meaningful opportunities for students to grow as musicians, developing transferable skills and qualities which will effectively prepare them for the world of work and a encourage a lifelong love and appreciation of music.
The focus across all key stages will be on the three main skills:
Listening and Appraising
We strive to ensure that all lessons are fun and engaging for all students. Prior learning is not essential for success in music at St Mary’s, as all music lessons are inclusive and accessible, no matter what level students may be at.
Throughout key stage 3 (years 8, 9 and 10) students receive two lessons of music per week; one practical/skill-based and one knowledge-based.
In practical lessons, students learn to play a variety of musical instruments, including piano, ukulele, recorder, djembe (a type of West African drum) and a whole host of percussion instruments. As well as this, students will be given the opportunity to compose their own music using our suite of Macs and brand new suite of digital keyboards.
In knowledge-based lessons, students will learn about the historical context of music. They will learn about the trailblazing composers, singers, songwriters and performers who shaped the musical landscape of today. They will begin to understand the basic elements that create the pieces we love. They will listen widely to a variety of pieces across all genres, styles and periods of time. They will learn how to listen to music discerningly, analysing structure and harmony, identifying key features and learning about the ensembles who play each piece. They will even learn how to read and write the language of music!
In addition to class-based learning, students will be given the opportunity throughout the year to work with visiting professional groups, in the form of workshops and educational trips to watch professional ensembles perform.
For students who wish to pursue music beyond KS3, we offer the CCEA GCSE music course. The course encourages students to develop their musical potential by focusing on performing, composing and listening. It builds on the skills and knowledge developed throughout KS3.
It is a linear qualification which means there will be no formal assessments until the end of year 12, allowing ample time for students to further develop their skills and knowledge and to succeed in the subject.
GCSE Music Summary
Performing and Appraising 30%
Students prepare two pieces, one solo and one as part of a group, on an instrument of their choice.
Both pieces will be assessed by a visiting examiner towards the end of Year 12.
Students will also have a brief conversation with examiner which forms 5% of the overall mark.
Students must create two pieces, one free choice and one in response to a stimulus set by the exam board.
These are marked in school, then moderated by CCEA.
Listening and Appraising 35%
Students will study 11 pieces of music over the two years of the course, taken from the following four areas of study.
Western Classical Music
Musical Traditions of Ireland
They will then be assessed at the end of the course in the form of a 90-minute written/listening exam.
For students who are interested in specialising in music as a career once they leave school, or for those who maybe wish to pursue music at university level, we have recently introduced the Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate in Music Performance. This is an A Level equivalent which is designed to give students a broad and realistic overview of the music sector in all of its forms, with a focus on performance, musical skills development and professional practice.
Assignments are scenario based and are assessed both internally and externally by the examination board.
Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate in Music Performance Summary
Practical Music Theory and Harmony
Professional Practice in the Music Industry
Ensemble Music Performance
For students joining us who already play an instrument, or for those who are interested in taking up an instrument outside of the classroom setting, we have a fantastic team of peripatetic music tutors who visit the school on a weekly basis offering one to one and group lessons on a wide variety of instruments. If you’ve ever wanted to take up an instrument, there will be an opportunity to do so at St Mary’s! Students can play for leisure or work towards graded music examinations; gaining certificates on their instrument if they so wish.
Outside of the classroom setting, we have a thriving extra-curricular programme for interested young musicians.
Junior and senior choir
Pop and Rock Bands
Shared Education (SERV) Choir
Shared Education Orchestra
More ensembles are added each year as interest presents. Interested students are encouraged to participate in these ensembles, to further develop musicianship skills and to avail of the many performance opportunities which arise throughout the year.