Curriculum Overview
Whole School Curriculum Plan
Creative iMedia
Health & Social Care BTEC
History & Humanities
Performing Arts
Miss K Smith (Head of Department)
Visiting Peripatetic Staff
Mr P Kenward (Woodwind)
Mrs R Adams (Piano)
Mr S Pitts (Guitar)
Mrs S Galkowska (Cello)
Mrs J Swezda (Violin)
Mr E Cakar (Drums)
Mr A Bell (Brass)
Key Stage 3:
Year 7
Term 1 – Elements and Notation
Students will learn how to read treble clef notation, how to perform and compose different rhythms, and will also look at graphic scores and musical textures. All lessons are practical and students are required to perform and critically evaluate their own and each other’s’ work in the lessons. They will also develop listening, performing and composition skills throughout the year. Some students may also opt to start instrumental lessons upon joining The Thomas Cowley High School.
Term 2 – Learning to play the Ukulele
The music department has just purchased a brand new set of ukulele’s this year. The students will learn about where the instrument originated from and will learn to play a variety of songs on it. They will develop techniques such as finger picking, strumming, playing legato and playing staccato. Students will select a song of their choice to be assessed on for their final performance.
Term 3 – Keyboard Skills
Students will recap treble clef notation reading and learn to play the keyboard using all five of their fingers. Their performances will be fluent and students are expected to evaluate their own and others’ work at the end of each lesson. The term finishes with a final performance of ‘The Time’ by the Black Eyed Peas. The students are assessed on how fluent their piece is and some may have also gone on to add a second hand part such as chords.
Term 4 – African Music
Students look at the role of music within African communities, learn how to play the djembe drum and for, their own mini tribes for their final composition. The students will perform every single lesson and must include all key words learnt in their final performance. This term culminates with the Christmas Concert, where the best of the tribal compositions are featured. The students also have to complete a home learning task in the form of an African Tourist leaflet, examples of which can be viewed in the music department.
Term 5 – Singing Skills
Students will develop their confidence performing a chosen song in front of their classmates. They will learn the correct posture, best way to use their voice and techniques required to sing in tune and in time. They will then look at the history of rap music and write their own rap, the best of which will be featured in the Summer Concert on the 17th June.
Term 6 – Experimental Music
For the final term students will learn about how instruments are constructed and how this affects their sound. They will then design and make their own instrument based on what they have learnt. Students will study a variety of modern pieces and evaluate what makes them unique. They will also look at time signatures and learn to conduct their classmates. Their end of year assessment will be on a topic of their choice.
Year 8
Term 1 – Film Music
Students look at the history of film music and the composers that contributed to the genre. They will also learn how to identify different orchestral instruments and listen to their roles in famous film themes. Students will then select a character from Harry Potter and must composer their own piece, incorporating chords, to suit that character.
Term 2 – Band Project
Students will learn how to play a variety of popular instruments. They will then select one instrument to specialise in, form their own group and will learn to play a pop song of their choice. Students must learn to keep in time with each other and gain experience working with others. The best performances will be selected and shown in the Christmas Concert at the end of the term.
Term 3 – The Beatles
This term the students look at the Beatles’ music and how it helped to influence 60s music and modern music today. They will learn how emotion can be put into a song and look at rhyme schemes in the lyrics. They will then learn to play ‘Yellow Submarine’ on the keyboard. Some students will take this further, adding extra chords, arpeggios or performing a more complex piece.
Term 4 – Remix’s
This project teaches students what a remix is and how to create one. They will learn to use GarageBand software and how to record live music into the software. Students will select a pop song of their choice and must make a new ‘remixed’ version of it, demonstrating all the skills they have learnt on that term.
Term 5 – Samba
The department hires a full Samba kit for this term and the students will learn to play a variety of Samba instruments that feature in Brazilian music. They will learn how to identify and perform polyrhythms and how to perform as an ensemble. Two different forms of Samba will be learnt and the students will select one to be performed in the Summer Concert on the 17th June.
Term 6 – Pop Song Writing and Production
Students will study learn about the history of pop music and how to compose a pop song. They will gain insight into structure, harmony and lyric writing. The students must write their own pop song and then finalise the recording before the best are selected to be featured in the Summer Concert.
Year 9
The student’s lessons in Year 9 are all about developing them as musicians. As such, every lesson is practical and the students are encouraged to perform and compose on a variety of instruments. We start the year by learning about different structure in music, in particular Rondo form. The students learn a small section of a variety of Michael Jackson songs and put them together to make a piece in Rondo form. They then look at how technology can be used in the classroom, with a particular emphasis on vocals. They record a backing track, imitating instrumental sounds with their voices, and then perform a mashup of songs over the top. In term 3 we move onto song writing. The students can select one instrument to focus on and then form a group, writing a song in a chosen structure. They will also look into how songs can be produced and marketed. These songs will then be featured in an evening performance towards the middle of the year. In term 4 we study minimalism, using given cells to create multi-layered pieces, again on a variety of instruments. The students will also learn how to use Sibelius software, in case they wish to use that at a KS4 level. Term 5 focuses on Jazz and the Blues, with the students performing Elvis’s ‘Hound Dog’ and then writing their own blues pieces. Here they will develop improvisation skills and ensemble skills. Finally the students select a piece and learn to perform in on their favourite instrument. These pieces will be assessed using the GCSE performance criteria and should allow the students to then make an informed decision about which instrument they wish to focus on if they opt to take GCSE next year.
Key Stage 4 - GCSE
If students opt to take GCSE Music they are required to have instrumental lessons. As such we are now offering these free of charge to students during school hours. They lessons are once a week and, as long as regular practice is completed, will allow the students to make the necessary progress before the final GCSE assessments in year 11.
Year 10
Year 10 sees the start of the OCR GCSE curriculum. The students have to look at a variety of musical genres which will be featured on their final listening exam in year 11. As the vast majority of year 11 is dedicated to coursework, it is important that they revise these topics as the year goes on. Genres’s featured on the exam include; World music (Caribbean, Latin American, African, Indonesian and Indian Classical Music), Dance music (Salsa, Tango, Bhangra, Irish, American Line Dance, Disco and Club), Jazz and the Blues, Pop Ballads, Classical Music (Baroque, Classical and Romantic) and Descriptive Music (Programme, Opera, and Film). All of these topics will be learnt about theoretically and then performed and composed practically. Throughout the year the students will also practice for their creative task and their listening exam, most of which requires them to develop their ability of recognising instruments, characteristics, time signatures, dynamics, tempos and structures that feature in all of the above topics. Students will also complete regular solo and group performance assessments to ensure that they are practicing on their instruments throughout the year.
Year 11
This year is dedicated, almost entirely, to coursework. The students must complete one solo composition and one solo performance on their chosen instrument. They will also complete a written evaluation of their performance and write a brief for their composition. They will then complete a group performance and group composition and a document, logging their progress throughout the term. They also sit a creative task exam – where they are given 6 different stimuli’s and must choose one to develop into a piece. The last few weeks, before the listening exam, are spent revising and recapping over the content studied in year 10. Practice exam papers will also be completed in preparation for the exam.
Extra-curricular information:
We offer a full range of extra-curricular activities each week. The activities take place in lunchtimes and after school. Students will be given a lunch pass at 1:00 to allow them time to eat their lunch quickly before the rehearsals start.
The music room is also open every lunch time to those students who require extra help or more practice time. This can be students who just study music in normal class time or those students who have instrumental/vocal lessons.
There are two school concerts a year – one at Christmas and one in Summer. As well as a year 9 showcase and a whole school show. We also hold a talent show on the last day of the Christmas term which students audition for and are awarded either; Best Solo Act, Best Group Act and Most Promise for the Future. This is a very popular contest so, audition quickly!
For any more information about any of the above, please contact Miss Katy Smith, Head of Music via email;


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The Thomas Cowley High School
PE11 4TF
Telephone:  01775 820254
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