Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. 

Ludwig Van Beethoven

The Music Department here at Acland Burghley school is a vibrant place to be.

With a wide range of instrumental teachers, provided by Camden music service, we offer tuition on most instruments and a number of extra-curricular activities. These include a brass ensemble, KS3 choir, string ensemble, School of Rock, classical guitar ensemble and the percussion group.

In the classroom our curriculum is designed to combine the essential musical skills of composing, performing and listening. This is delivered using an eclectic mix of musical styles and genres, ranging from Baroque to Brit pop! With the use of our Mac suite students get to become familiar with industry standard music technology software from as early as Y7. The use of KS3 curriculum and our instrumental teachers ensures that students are well equipped for GCSE once they embark on the course. As part of the LaSWAP consortium we have a number of concerts throughout the year in which we collaborate with our neighbouring schools, resulting in some fantastic performances. We provide many opportunities for the students to perform throughout the year. The confidence inspired by such occasions is reflected in the fantastic progress of our instrumentalists both in class and in individual lessons.

Subject Lead and teacher

Eleanor Peters-Savva  |


Thanos Tsolakis  |



Autumn term

Meet and explore Music
This is where we meet our brand new musicians and assess where they are at and where they are going. Students look at the basic elements of Music and work on developing keyboard skills, independence and working as part of an ensemble. After the initial half term, the lead up to the end of term focuses on rehearsal for the Christmas concert.

Spring term

Students look at how this very modern era of classical Music is put together and are assessed on their own minimalist performance. Using polyrhythms, ostinatos and using different time signatures, students aim to gain an understanding of this genre as well as developing their awareness of notation.

Classical footsteps
This where students look at the classical era and the great composers of this time. Having developed their knowledge of notation and rhythm, keyboard skills are developed in preparation for assessment.

Flying start

Students explore the traditional music of Brazil, the use of polyrhythms, call and response and the role of each instrument in the ensemble. Students will be assessed as one large ‘bacteria’ or in separate, smaller groups.


After consolidating basic keyboard, listening and analysis skill, and experiencing performance in Y7, Y8 is followed up with specific styles, genres and theoretical elements of music.

Autumn term

Journey into the blues
Students will explore the history, harmony and keyboard techniques related to this hugely influential genre. The students will use the classic ‘Sweet home Chicago’ to hone their skills and for an assessed performance.

Students look at how chords, intervals and harmony are constructed and how they are related to the keyboard and other non-percussion instruments. Students take the theory learned and use the music of both Mozart and Lady Gaga when preparing for assessment.

Spring term 

Performing contemporary music
Students look at modern music, how it is structured and how it is performed. Using listening and keyboard skills they take, adapt and perform Eminem’s 'lose yourself' for their assessment.

World music postcard
Students explore the traditional music of South America, Egypt and the British isles. Looking at the call and response of Brazil, the ‘micam hijaz’ of Egypt and folk music of Ireland the students are assessed by performing a chosen piece from one of these countries.

Summer term

The last topic before the flying start is calypso. With Summer upon us we explore the rhythms and tonality of the carribean. Using listening, composition and performance exercises, the students are assessed on their performance of a chosen piece from this genre.


Introduction to logic
To start Y9, we introduce the students to the Mac room and the sequencing software Logic Pro 9. Using the urban track ‘fine girl’ you will learn to sequence, quantize and generally become proficient with this industry standard music software. Your assessment will be based on your final version of 'fine girl'.

Here students will look at how music is arranged. Taking ‘it ain’t necessarily so’ from the musical Porgy and Bess they will take a classic tune and arrange their own version of it. Using listening and analysis skills students will learn how different arrangements are conceived and will prepare their own, with their group, ready for the assessment.

Having looked at the Blues in Y8, students will now look at how this hugely popular genre of music emerged from it. Using the jazz standard ‘Autumn Leaves’ you will be introduced to major 7th chords and using your recently acquired arrangement skills you will prepare a version for assessment. By this time in Y9, there is potentially a wide range of instrumentalists in the group and these can be incorporated into your performance.

Composing contemporary music
With GCSEs approaching we start to look at developing students' composition skills. Taking inspiration from many contemporary artists we look at how melodies, chord progressions and Ostinatos are put together to create a successful pop song. Lyricists also become involved here and their assessment is based on the pop song they produce.

Film Music
Using the skills students acquired in Y8 using Logic Pro 9 they will now compose a piece of music to accompany a film. Linking to skills they will have picked up in Media, they will explore diegetic and non-diegetic music and create a soundtrack for a Martial arts scene. The Assessment will be based on their finished soundtrack. This unit will run in parallel to the Reggae unit.

Hip Hop
Here we explore Logic Pro, songwriting, composition and look at the political and cultural events that took place in Brooklyn NYC in the 80s and 90s. This links on to GCSE music which will require composition and political context of contemporary music. It will also link into to potential DJing and looking at remixing and creating their own tracks related to this genre.  

Romantic and Classical
Here we get an introduction into the world of the romantic and classical era. This unit is predominantly focused on music theory and exploring the original composers of both eras. We hope to be able to explore this within a live orchestra context.



Areas of study

There are five areas of study that we will learn about during the OCR GCSE Music course. Students understanding will be assessed in Component 3 – the Listening paper.

Area of Study 1: My Music

  • perform one piece (this can be on any instrument; voice; DJ-ing or sequencing)
  • compose one piece for their instrument
  • produce one piece of written work to accompany their composition

Area of Study 2: The Concerto through time
The development of the Concerto, from the Baroque period through to the Romantic period.

Area of Study 3: Rhythms of the World
The traditional rhythmic roots from four geographical regions of the world: India and Punjab, Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, Africa and Central/South America. Additionally you may choose to demonstrate your understanding within Component 2 - composition, where a choice of two rhythmic phrases will be given.

Area of Study 4: Written Music

  • written specifically for film
  • Western Classical tradition
  • as a soundtrack for a video game

Additionally, learners may choose to demonstrate their understanding through Component 2 - composition, where you will be able to choose from either a short story or an image to create your own film style composition.

Area of Study 5: Conventions of Pop
A range of popular music from the 1950s to the present day and demonstrate an understanding of:

  • Rock ‘n’ Roll of the 1950s and 1960s
  • Rock anthems of the 1970s and 1980s
  • Pop ballads of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s
  • Solo artists from the 1990s to the present day

The skills you will develop
Students will learn how to analyse and answer questions about a wide variety of music, developing an understanding of how the different genres and styles link together. Students will develop skills in composing and performing in different styles and learn how to notate your compositions in a variety of different ways.

Why you should study it
Music develops a wide range of skills and improves your confidence when performing or speaking in front of large groups of people. You will enjoy and be successful on the GCSE course if you have a passion for music and you play a musical instrument or are interested in playing a musical instrument and committed to developing those skills. 



Exam or controlled assessment


Component 1; Integrated Portfolio
(Solo performance and composition)

Controlled assessment


Component 2; Practical Component
(Ensemble performance, set composition)

Controlled assessment


Component 3; Listening Exam

Exam (1.5 hours)


Extended learning

As part of the course, students learn an instrument of their choice. If they already have lessons outside of school they will be offered one to one composition lessons. They will also be involved in individual and group performances.

Get ahead

Start building on instrumental skills now! Students can join an ensemble and take part in a concert before they start the course. Listen to a wide variety of music, particularly the genres listed in the course description and other genres they don’t usually listen to.
















 LaSWAP Concert