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Charles Darwin School


Course Overview 

Music is delivered across all three key stages. In the foundation years projects are taught with a focus on the three main areas of Performing, Composing and Listening & Appraising. In years 7 and 8 projects cover a broad range of topics, from World Music to Western Classical styles, as well as Popular Music styles. All of these projects are linked with the key stage 3 National Curriculum for Music, and are designed to give students a broad knowledge of music styles and genres as well as to challenge and develop their skills in performance, composition and listening & appraising.

At Key Stage 4 students may study GCSE Music or BTEC Music, and at Key Stage 5 students may study A Levels in both Music and Music Technology. Music at both GCSE and A Level continues to develop skills in Performing and Composing through the creation of coursework pieces, and Listening skills in exam elements of the course. Students will also develop their analytical skills through the study of set works in the A Level course.

The A Level course in Music Technology comprises of the completion of a portfolio of coursework including: Sequencing tasks (pieces created using specialist software on computers); Arranging tasks (creating original new versions of existing music); Recording tasks (recording projects completed in our Music Recording Studio). In addition to this, students will develop their knowledge of popular music styles, as well as production techniques, which is then tested in an exam setting.

Year 7 projects/topics:

  • Samba
  • Ground Bass / Remix
  • Ostinato and Riffs
  • Descriptive Music
  • Film Music

BTEC Units
Two core units:

  • The music industry (exam)
  • Managing a music product
  • Introduction to live sound
  • Introducing music performance
  • Introducing music composition

 A Level Music Units

  • Performing Coursework – 30% of the A Level. Students will prepare a 5 minute recital.
  • Composing – 30% of the GCSE. Students will compose one compositions to an brief set by the examination board, using specialist music software on the computers.
  • Listening and Analysing – a 2 hour exam where students will answer questions based on set works they have studied as well as compositional techniques

Year 8 projects/topics:
The Development of Popular Music:

  • African Drumming
  • Blues
  • Jazz
  • Rock ‘n’ Roll
  • Cover Versions
  • Music and the Media

GCSE Units

  • Performing Coursework – 40% of the GCSE. Students will record one solo performance and one group performance.
  • Composing – 40% of the GCSE. Students will compose two compositions, using specialist music software on the computers. For one of the compositions students will write a written appraisal, explaining the composition process, under exam conditions.
  • Listening and Appraising Exam – a 1 hour exam where students will answer questions based on music that will be played to them. Topics in this exam range from Western Classical music styles, to Popular Music and World Music.


A Level Music Technology Units
  • Music Technology Portfolio – 70% (AS) 60% (A2). This is a portfolio of coursework comprising of three tasks in each year. At the AS level, students will complete a Sequencing, Arranging and Multi-track Recording task. At the A2 level, students will complete a Sequenced Integrated task, a Composition task and a Multi-track Recording.

Why choose the subject? 

Why choose to study Music Technology?

  • You will have a keen interest and an analytical curiosity about how music is recorded, edited, manipulated and created from a Technological perspective.
  • You enjoy working on long-term projects, where a coursework tasks evolves over a long period of time.
  • You will develop confidence, communication and organisational skills, while arranging and leading your recording sessions with musicians.
  • You will learn how to apply technical techniques to your own music, and will develop your creativity in Arranging and Composition tasks.
  • You will develop a broad and extensive knowledge of Popular music styles, and how these styles exploit the use of technology in their recordings and production.

Common Questions 

Q. In which year do I start to learn Music?
A. All students study Music in Years 7 and 8. Music is available to choose as an option from Year 9 onwards.

Q. Can I have instrumental or singing lessons at Charles Darwin School?
A. We offer a wide range of instrumental and singing lessons at the school. Students interested in these lessons will need to fill in an application form, which details the fees for these lessons. Instrumental and Singing lessons take place during the school day, and students will come out of their lessons in order to attend. Lessons rotate each week to avoid regularly missing the same subject.

Q. What kind of extra-curricular clubs happen in the Music Department?
A. The music department is a very busy place in terms of its extra-curricular events. There are regular Music Concerts for students to take part in, either as a soloist or as part of an ensemble. We have many different ensembles ranging from choirs, to woodwind ensembles or the school’s new Samba Band. In the Autumn term students have the opportunity to take part in our school production, which takes place at Christmas. Recent productions have included Hairspray, Guys and Dolls and Back to the 80s.

Who will teach me? 

Miss Mace,  Mrs Kearney  or Mr Dowlen.

In addition to this team we also have two specialist teachers delivering key areas of the Music Technology course –

Mr Andrews and Mr Hale.  We currently have a further 8 visiting instrumental/vocal staff, who are Bromley Youth Music Trust teachers.

Useful Links 

  • MusicRoom
  • Sheet Music Direct
  • Music at School
  • DSO Kids
  • The MusicLand