We offer a range of courses from A Level and IB to instrumental and vocal lessons, ensemble activities, and theoy classes. These latter courses are open to all students whether they take music or not. The following information is provided for prospective students and their parents.

Courses

A/S and A Level Music

This course is for students who have some experience of playing and performing music who may well have taken GCSE music and who would like to further their knowledge and skills in Performance, composing and in Listening and Understanding music.

A/S Music

In composition we develop your skills to be able to write harmony and to compose a theme and variations as well as songs. We would like students who start the course to be at least grade 5 level on their instrument or voice, and it is very helpful to have taken grade 5 theory. We study a range of music looking at specific works to extend knowedge of analysis skills and listening abilites. Performing is a very important part of the course and is integrated in both the composing and listening elements; students are asked to perform in the class and in lunchtime concerts. Opportunities to perform in evening concerts are also given. All students taking Music are expected to participate in one of the large college ensembles (choir, band or orchestra) as part of their course.

IB Music

Music can be taken at either standard or higher levels. These are both two year programmes as part of the International Baccalaureate course. The Higher course includes listening and analysis, composition and performance and is designed for a student wanting to go on to study music in Higher Education. The standard level course includes listening and analysis, and either composition or performance (as a soloist or as part of an ensemble).

A/S and A Level Music Technology

Students who take the A/S course should have good reading of music ability as part of the studies involves taking the study of a score and putting the score onto the computer using a variety of sequencing programs such as Cakewalk Sonar 7 and Sibelius 6. We test this ability to read music before allowing students a place on the course. Here study of different types of music is important, and the students taking this course study a range of popular music. Student will be expected to play music into the computer using a keyboard using a score and aural skills.

Theory of Music

This class is open to all students who would like to improve their theory of music and work towards exams in Theory. We recommend that students who take Music should also take grade 5 theory.

Instrumental and Vocal Lessons

We offer instrumental and vocal lessons to the students at the College and we have a range of tutors who teach individual half hour lessons. These are arranged in the students free time or after college. The lessons allow students to develop their skills and to take grades music exams. We expect students who take these lessons to take part in the ensembles at the college and the College then reduces the cost of these lessons. Students on particularly low incomes may receive help with the funding of these lessons.

Please see the Course Details box on this page for links to downloadable subject information sheets.

Visiting Instrumental and Vocal Staff

We arrange lessons for students at the start of the September term as soon as they have timetables (this ensures they do not miss other lessons as a result). If we do not have a suitable tutor for an instrument we do our best to find an appropriate tutor.

Music Facilities

We have a purpose built area including a main music area which hosts smaller recitals and rehearsals for the orchestra, band and choir. It includes a chamber harpsichord and Yamaha grand pianos as well as access to a drum kit and a variety of percussion instruments (including pedal timpani). In the music room there are dedicated music computers. Off this room there is a storage room where students can leave instruments during the day.

Evening Concerts are held in the drama studio next door and we are able to move a grand piano between these spaces.

There are a number of practice rooms which are also used for instrumental and vocal teaching. There are two recording studios with digital multi-track facilities. Each recording room has monitor systems and mixing desks with access to compression and effects units on the computer. We have a selection of professional standard microphones of both condenser and dynamic variety.

The Music technology area has a suite of computers for use by both music and music technology students, and we have access to a further suite of music computers in the college. Each of these computers is a machine with high specifications and access to high quality sound cards and sound modules. Keyboards that are used for inputting are touch sensitive. In total there are 34 computers for use by music and music technology students.

Ensembles (Orchestra, Band and Choir)

All students, whether they take music as a subject or not are able to participate in the College Ensembles such as ORCHESTRA, BAND, CHOIR, CLARINET ENSEMBLE AND RECORDER ENSEMBLE. These happen at lunchtimes and we perform regularly each term.

The various ensembles get a number of opportunities to perform: an Autumn Concert in November, a Christmas Carol Service, A Spring Concert as well as a number of other occasions such as the Schools Prom in Charter Hall.

Progression

The study of Music provides a range of skills which can be very useful in later life: areas such as organisation, self-discipline and the ability to work well with others. Progression for our students may well be in a musical direction, either at University or at a specialist music conservatoire. Many of our students decide to go on to musical careers: some in recording and performing music, others in the administration and management of musical activities. Other students take their musical skills in a non-musical direction.

We are proud of the achievements of our past students; many are now established musicians in the forefront of the musical life of this country: their careers range from senior artist managers, opera conductors, musical directors for the stage (including the National Theatre), Professor at a Conservatoire, Principal performers in orchestras, recording artists and recording software producers as well as a large number of music teachers!

Some FAQs

Q: What is the difference between Music AS and Music Technology AS?

A: The study of Music includes performance on an instrument or voice, composition and aural analysis of a range of music. The study of Music Technology uses the technology (the computer) as the “instrument” in that performances are made using the computer and arrangement and recordings all using software on the computers.

Q: Why do I have to be fluent in reading conventional notation? Why can’t I just use guitar tab or drum notation?

A: The study of Music and Music Technology requires rapid reading of scores and the ability to perform using notation. Tab and drum notation is useful but not for reading a conventional score! Most Universities who offer Music Technology degrees require music reading skills for example.

Q: How do you know if students can read music before starting the course?

A: We give every student a very short test on their music reading abilities.

Q: Can I take both Music and Music Technology AS levels?

A: Yes. In fact quite a few students do as they count as separate qualifications and have different skills.

Q: What standard do I need to be on my instrument or voice to take Music AS or Music IB?

A: You should be at least grade five ABRSM at the start of the course; you do not need to have taken exams (some guitarists, for example, may not have been offered the opportunity to take exams) but you should be at that level.

Q: Do I need to audition to take Music or Music Technology?

A: Generally the answer is no, we do not audition as such. There are, however, times when a student has not taken any grades and needs to show us that he or she is of the right standard to start the course.

Q: Do I need to be able to play a keyboard to take Music Technology AS?

A: A basic level of keyboard ability is a very useful skill. Notes will have to be entered using a music keyboard to get a fluency of expression so this is required for the course.

Q: Do I get instrumental or vocal lessons free of charge?

A: We provide individual half hour lessons for students who take Music at AS or IB without charge. Other students (including those who take Music technology) are welcome to apply for lessons and will receive subsidised lessons (the current charge is £145.00 for 12 half hour lessons).

Q: If I play more than one instrument can I have lessons on two or more instruments?

A: Yes, but even if you take music you will have to pay the subsidised charges for the extra lessons.

Q: Can I join the orchestra, band or choir without taking Music?

A: Yes, we welcome all students to join in these lunchtime activities.

Q: If I take Music AS do I have to participate in one of the college ensembles?

A: Yes, it is very important to develop ensemble skills.

Q: If I take Music can I still use the computers for musical composition etc?

A: Yes. We encourage all students to use the computing facilities including Sibelius.

Q: If I take Music Technology AS how much of my time is spent recording and how much using the computers for sequencing?

A: About one third of the coursework time is spent on recording, the rest is spent on two different tasks using sequencing skills. The coursework is 70% of the whole qualification.