From the beginning of year 8 right, potentially through to year 14 pupils will develop their General Musicianship and Self-Confidence through a wide range of individual and group music-making activities.  They will gain knowledge, skills and understanding needed to enable pupils to make their own music and to respond, with understanding, to music from a range of styles and cultural/historic traditions. 

Key Stage 3

All pupils have a double period of music each week lasting 60 or 65 minutes.

Pupils take part in a wide range of music activities involving composing, performing and listening. These include:

  • Composing individually and in groups
  • Composing using graphic and staff notation
  • Composing and improvising by ear
  • Performing individually, in groups of 2, 3, & 4 and as part of a whole-class performance
  •  Performing music from a variety of styles by ear, from memory and from notation
  • Performing their own music and that of others
  • Taking part in group rehearsals and taking responsibility for directing rehearsals
  • Listening to and appraising music from a wide variety of music from different periods, styles, cultures and contexts
  • Listening to and appraising their own compositions and that of their peers
  • Using interactive music software such as Focus on Sound and Chrome lab 
  • Learning how to read and write conventional staff notation and associated music theory


All GCSE pupils receive 5 periods per week – 2 double periods and 1 singe period. Activities centre on the 3 components of Listening, Composing and Performing with the addition of Appraising in each component.

The examination weighting is as follows:

  1. Listening and Appraising              -       35%
  2. Performing and Appraising           -       35%
  3. Composition and Appraisal           -       30%.

There are 4 areas of study upon which the above components are based. Through Listening, Composing Performing students will be expected to embrace the following areas of study (listed below).

  • Music for Orchestra (core area of study) 
  • Musical traditions in Ireland
  • Popular Music
  • Music for Film

Composing and Appraising (Coursework)

Students work on a series of compositions and submit a portfolio of at least 2 pieces 3- 6 min in duration. 

GCSE students will have full access to the school’s digital recording studio and I MAC suite.

Performing and Appraising

Pupils are required to perform individually and as part of an ensemble. The pupils will also respond appropriately to a series of questions by the visiting assessor on points arising from the performance and its relation to the area of study.

Both performances last a few minutes and students may play any instrument of their choice (including voice). As with composition, the performance can be in any musical style of your choice including classical, jazz, Irish traditional or rock.  

Listening and Appraising

In this part of the course, students learn about music of different styles and traditions (e.g. classical, folk, rock and pop, jazz etc.) and from different periods of history. They will also focus on several ‘set works’ in detail.

Examination will be through 1 test of aural perception lasting approximately 1 hour 30mins. Students will be expected to answer questions on both the set works they have studied and also on unfamiliar music. They should apply their knowledge of the 4 areas of study to questions on unfamiliar music.

A Level

The A level course is divided into threa assessment compnenets:

  1. Listening and Appraising – 35%
  2. Composing and Appraising – 32.5%
  3. Performing and Appraising - 32.5%

Students study a wide range of musical styles through aural and written work. They undertake an in-depth study of 12 set works in the following areas of study:

  • Music for Orchestra
  • Sacred and Secular vocal music

In addition, they must submit an advanced composition which they will work on weekly with regular submissions throughout the year (internally assessed) 

The pupils will also present a performance programme and engage in a short post performance discussion with the visiting examiner


The dept. has an extensive extracurricular programme which is vital to the musical development of our pupils. Throughout the year we will run the following:

  • School Orchestra / String Orchestra
  • Senior Choir
  • Junior Choir 
  • Irish Traditional Group (pupil led) 
  • Jazz Band (term 2) 

The pupils will perform at the following events: 

  • School Masses and special occasions
  • Prize-giving
  • Annual Christmas Carol Service
  • Choral festivals and competitions  
  • Music for charity events (Christmas fundraisers/carol singing etc)

Where to next?

Music skills are highly relevant today in when pursuing a career, even if you are not considering specialising in music beyond school. It is particularly useful for any job where creative skills, self-discipline and energy are required:

  • TV & Radio – presenting or producing
  •  Film Industry – writing & recording
  • Theatre – performing in or managing musicals, paying in resident orchestra etc
  • Recording industry – engineering/producing, technical assistant etc
  • Commercial Music Industry – management, recruitment, publicity, touring etc
  • Music teacher – in a school, private or peripatetic
  • Professional performer – in an orchestra, pop band, session musician, conductor
  • Composer arranger – pop songs, jingles, TV themes, adverts, film music, website & multimedia software, computer games.
  • Arts Administration – arts officer/ local promotions
  • Marketing

Universities and Employers always seem to show an interest in musical experience on an application form. Perhaps it is because it usually tells them that you are disciplined, a creative thinker, can work well in a group, that you can easily take or give directions from others, have good concentrations skills, and the realisation that persistent hard work leads to a rewarding final performance.