Curriculum Overview


Key Stage 3 Key Stage 4 Sixth Form

Term 1: The Elements of Music (Night and Day)

This unit looks at how different composers have used the elements of music to describe different times of the night and day through music from different times and places. It develops awareness and understanding of the elements of music providing pupils with a foundation of musical vocabulary to describe a variety of music at Key Stage 3. During this unit, pupils will explore how the elements of music can be adapted and manipulated to create a composition describing morning and sunrise and perform and listen to morning and night music.

Students create a short composition which depicts night and day, using the studied elements of music. The piece must fit within a studied structure and must be notated either graphically or using staff notation.

How loud or quiet music is.

How high or low sound is.

How fast or slow music is.

How thick or thin music is (depends upon how many instruments are playing).

The unique sound of each instrument e.g. violins sound stringy and woody.

The length of a note or a piece of music

How a sound starts.

How a sound stops.

The opposite of sound.

A noise or music.

  • Spiritual
  • Moral
  • Social
  • Cultural

Develop the individual:
Enhances listening and composition skills and promotes social skills.

Create a supportive community:
Students learn to support each other, listen and appraise their own work.

Term 2: Rhythm and Pulse

This unit develops pupils’ awareness of the importance of pulse as a fundamental upon which music is built and performed. Through the integrated activities of performing, composing and listening, pupils will begin to develop their own feeling for and awareness of a regular pulse. Pupils will be able to make a clear distinction between pulse and rhythm and learn to use rhythm grids as a method of recording rhythms. Pupils are introduced to note values and notation and compose, perform and notate their own rhythm compositions including time signatures and the grouping of note values into bars to form regular units.

Students compose a group piece demonstrating their understanding of how Rhythm and Pulse work together.

A strong, regular repeated pattern of movement or sound.

A regular beat mimicking the beating of the heart.

A note having the time value of an eighth of a semibreve or half a crotchet, represented by a large dot with a hooked stem.

A note having the time value of a quarter of a semibreve or half a minim, represented by a large solid dot with a plain stem.

A note having the time value of two crotchets or half a semibreve, represented by a ring with a stem.

Semi breve
In music, a whole note (American) or semibreve (British) is a note represented by a hollow oval note head, like a half note (or minim), and no note stem. Its length is equal to four beats in 4/4 time.

A rest is a musical symbol written in a measure where no note is played. Rests, like music notes, are measured in length: quarter, half, and whole rests are among the most common rests.

A set of five horizontal lines and four spaces that each represent a different musical pitch—or, in the case of a percussion staff, different percussion instruments.

Treble Clef
A symbol indicating that the second line from the bottom of a staff represents the pitch of G above middle C. Also called G clef.

A technical system of symbols used to represent music.

  • Spiritual
  • Moral
  • Social
  • Cultural

Develop the individual:
Understanding fundamental elements of music: to be in time, to work with a pulse.

Create a supportive community:
Students work and rehearse as a class as well as within smaller groups. Listening and co-operation skills are enhanced and developed.

Term 3: Form and Structure

Pupils learn about call and response and how musical question and answer phrases balance with each other to form a complete structure. Pupils move onto explore Binary Form exploring how musical contrast is achieved between two different sections and develop this into Ternary Form by repeating the first section at the end to form a musical “sandwich”. Finally, pupils look at Rondo Form as a type of recurring musical structure and add contrasting melodic improvisations to a recurring “A” section. Throughout the unit, pupils listen to examples of music based on each of the musical structures they are exploring and compose and perform within these forms. Particular emphasis in this unit is placed on staff notation and melody writing skills and pupils are encouraged to use staff notation or letter names when notating compositions.

Within a group students compose a binary piece using classroom instruments.

Binary Form
A type of song which has only 2 sections (A & B).

Ternary Form
A type of song which has 3 sections (A, B, A).

Rondo Form
Rondo form is a piece of music where the musical material stated at the beginning of the piece keeps returning. This opening music can be called either the theme or the refrain.

Sonata Form
A type of composition in three sections (exposition, development, and recapitulation) in which two themes or subjects are explored according to set key relationships. It forms the basis for much classical music, including the sonata, symphony, and concert

Music is constructed from several parts.

The visible shape or configuration of something, in particular.

Call and Response
In music, a call and response is a succession of two distinct phrases usually played by different musicians, where the second phrase is heard as a direct commentary on or response to the first. Also known as 'Question and Answer'.

A sequence of single notes that is musically satisfying; a tune.

A continually repeated musical phrase or rhythm.

A continuous musical note of low pitch.

  • Spiritual
  • Moral
  • Social
  • Cultural

Develop the individual:
Develops their performing and listening skills, social and listening.

Create a supportive community:
Working successfully in a group and considering an audience.

Term 4: Instruments of the Orchestra

This unit develops pupils’ understanding about orchestral instruments and families/sections of orchestral instruments. Pupils learn about the construction, sound production and timbres of different orchestral instruments using Benjamin Britten’s “Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra” to enhance their learning. Pupils are introduced to the modern symphony orchestra and learn about its layout, grouping and the instruments that belong to each section including their individual and characteristic timbres. This unit is brought to life by pupil’s experiencing actual orchestral instruments (where possible) and pupils join together to play a class orchestra piece to gain an understanding of what it’s like to perform as part of a larger group and the role of individual parts to the overall texture of the music.

A class performance of a given piece, working within instrumental families.

Wind instruments other than brass instruments forming a section of an orchestra, including flutes, oboes, clarinets, and bassoons.

A wind instrument made from a tube with holes that are stopped by the fingers or keys, held vertically or horizontally.

A woodwind instrument with a single-reed mouthpiece, a cylindrical tube with a flared end, and holes stopped by keys.

A small flute sounding an octave higher than the ordinary one.

A woodwind instrument with a double-reed mouthpiece, a slender tubular body, and holes stopped by keys.

A bass woodwind instrument of the oboe family, with a doubled-back tube over four feet long, played with a double reed.

Musical instruments played by striking with the hand or with a stick or beater, or by shaking, including drums, cymbals, xylophones, gongs, bells, and rattles.

Bass Drum
A large drum of indefinite low pitch.

Timpani (Kettle Drum)
Kettledrums, especially when played by one musician in an orchestra. A large drum shaped like a bowl, with a membrane adjustable for tension (and so pitch) stretched across.

A musical instrument consisting of a slightly concave round brass plate which is either struck against another one or struck with a stick to make a ringing or clashing sound.

Cow Bell
A ​metal musical instrument in the ​shape of such a ​bell that is ​hit with a ​stick.

Instruments of the orchestra played by strumming or stretching strings.

A stringed musical instrument of treble pitch, played with a horsehair bow. The classical European violin was developed in the 16th century. It has four strings and a body of characteristic rounded shape, narrowed at the middle and with two f-shaped sound

An instrument of the violin family, larger than the violin and tuned a fifth lower.

A bass instrument of the violin family, held upright on the floor between the legs of the seated player.

Double Bass
The largest and lowest-pitched instrument of the violin family, providing the bass line of the orchestral string section and also used in jazz and some country music.

Brass wind instruments (including trumpet, horn, and trombone) forming a band or a section of an orchestra.

A brass musical instrument with a flared bell and a bright, penetrating tone. The modern instrument has the tubing looped to form a straight-sided coil, with three valves.

A large brass wind instrument with straight tubing in three sections, ending in a bell over the player's left shoulder, different fundamental notes being made using a forward-pointing extendable slide.

A valved brass musical instrument of tenor pitch, resembling a small tuba.

A large brass wind instrument of bass pitch, with three to six valves and a broad bell typically facing upwards.

  • Spiritual
  • Moral
  • Social
  • Cultural

Develop the individual:
Working, rehearsing and performing within a large ensemble.

Create a supportive community:
Working in a large group, participating within a class performance.

Term 5: Introduction to World Music

This unit introduces pupils to the timbres, rhythms, melodies and structures that are commonly used in types of World Music; The Indonesian Gamelan and Western African Drumming. Pupils begin by exploring the cultural context of Gamelan before learning about the “interlocking” structure of Gamelan melodies, performing and composing their own “interlocking” melody parts.

Students move onto learn about Polyrhythms, Ostinato, Call and Response and Improvisation techniques used in Western African Drumming.

A two part assessment which includes a performance of a pre-written Gamelan piece followed by a group Gamelan composition.

A rhythm used at the same time as another rhythm or rhythms.

A scale of five notes, especially one without semitones equivalent to an ordinary major scale with the fourth and seventh omitted.

Pelog is one of the two essential scales of gamelan music native to Bali and Java, in Indonesia. In Javanese the term is said to be a variant of the word pelag meaning "fine" or "beautiful". The other, older, scale commonly used is called slendro.

Slendro (called salendro by the Sundanese) is a pentatonic scale, Play (help. · info) the older of the two most common scales (laras) used in Indonesian gamelan music, the other being pélog.

A traditional instrumental ensemble in Java and Bali, including many bronze percussion instruments.

Offbeat, originally a music term meaning "not following the standard beat", which has also become a general synonym for "unconventional" or "unusual".

When a sound, musical phrase or section of music is played more than once in a piece.

A note having one-fourth the time value of a whole note.

A musical note which continues for an eighth of the length of a semibreve.

A 16th note (American) or semiquaver (British) is a note played for half the duration of an eighth note (quaver), hence the name.

  • Spiritual
  • Moral
  • Social
  • Cultural

Develop the individual:
Students learn and explore complex rhythm patterns from non-western music and study a variety of non-western scales.

Create a supportive community:
Students support each other within group tasks, listening and collaborating together on performances and compositions.

Term 6: Samba

This unit is loud, fun and exciting. Samba is the wonderful music of Brazil and students will study its origins and the rhythms that make it so exciting and unique. They will have the opportunity to play on Samba instruments and create an exciting class performance.

Students have a listening and performing assessment. A group performance of a studied Samba piece is recorded and a short listening exam that tests their knowledge of instruments is given.

Monophony means music with a single "part" and a "part" typically means a single vocal melody, but it could mean a single melody on an instrument of one kind or another.

Music with two parts.

Music with three parts.

Rondo Form
An instrumental composition typically with a refrain recurring four times in the tonic and with three couplets in contrasting keys.

  • Spiritual
  • Moral
  • Social
  • Cultural

Develop the individual:
Develops complex aural skills and enhances ability to work successfully in a large group.

Create a supportive community:
Samba Bands can be used to perform in local festivals and other community events.