Music Department

Meet the department

  • Mrs Byrne – Subject Leader of Music
  • Miss Mills – Teacher of Music


Music is central to every pupil’s experience at St Richard’s, and has the potential to enrich their lives enormously.  There are three main strands to their experiences:

  • In the classroom
  • The extra-curricular programme
  • Supporting the Faith ethos of the college


Pupils tell us that they really enjoy their involvement in music at St Richard’s, whether through singing, playing a range of musical instruments in our well-equipped department, joining choir, orchestra, our other numerous after school/lunchtime activities, or becoming involved in music for a Liturgy.  The music area is a busy, thriving and exciting place to be, and we do everything we can to make pupils feel welcome and valued, whatever their musical interests.


We enjoy a reputation within the county, and beyond, for the high quality performance opportunities we offer all pupils and work collaboratively with the other subjects in the Performing Arts team towards our end of year production which involves up to 100 pupils.


We have strong links with East Sussex Music, as well as independent specialist instrument tutors, and through this pupils can receive instrumental or vocal lessons in school, as well accessing a wide range of county ensembles including area youth orchestras, youth choirs, swing bands and Rock School.


Studying music is a gateway to a lifetime of enjoyment and life-enriching creativity, and there are many and varied career paths for pupils who gain a GCSE qualification in the subject; these opportunities include performing, composing, teaching, recording, studio engineering, sound design for film and theatre, music journalist and music therapist, to name but a few. Pupils who study music develop many skills, making them an attractive proposition for potential employers!


Celebrating our successes

As a department we are always rehearsing for a performance (usually several at the same time!), and this hard work consistently leads to outstanding results. Parents, pupils and colleagues throughout the county regularly tell us that they want their children to be at St Richard’s when they see and hear our pupils working at such high performance levels.  We are constantly striving to build on our success because we want our young musicians to have musical experiences that will shape the rest of their lives in some way.


We are also delighted that our GCSE music pupils not only achieve outstanding results but make great progress in terms of their musical and personal development. In 2018 we were recognised by the Incorporated Society of Musicians for producing the top 8% of results in the country.


Our Musical Journey from Years 7-11


KS3 Music

To fully understand music we need to be able to make music; this is at the heart of our music department ethos here at St Richard’s and forms a firm foundation for our pupils to grow and develop. We use a Musical Futures approach, that we learn music best when it is relevant to our lives and is made and experienced alongside people we enjoy working with. Rather than focus on what grade a piece of work might achieve, we focus on what it is we are doing and what we can do musically to improve it. Our assessment framework encourages pupils to reflect on their work in relation to performing and composing and their knowledge and understanding of it. We discuss our work in terms of working towards, meeting and exceeding our aims.

Our KS3 scheme of work is designed so that all of the work builds towards the requirements to be able to study music at Key Stage 4. The units of work can all be connected in some way to the music covered in the EDUQAS GCSE in Music and these can include:


Year 7

  • Singing Together
  • Beat Goes On
  • British Folk Music
  • Sequencing/Fat Boy Slim
  • Rhythms of the Nile – incorporating technology sequencing skills (1)
  • Impressionism


Year 8

  • Axis of Awesome/Ukuleles (songwriting)
  • Sequencing skills 2 (Seven Nation Army)
  • One Day Like This (arranging)
  • Kwela – Going Solo (improvising and understanding structure)
  • Film Music
  • Reggae


Year 9

  • The Blues
  • Sequencing skills 3 (Viva La Vida)
  • Minimalism (Tubular Bells)
  • Amadeus (Score Analysis and Performance Skills)
  • Sir Duke (Jazz Techniques/Popular Music)
  • In at the Deep End (Working in bands to produce and arrange a piece of the pupils’ choice by ear).


Pupils have access to a wide range of classroom instruments including Pbones, Pcornets and Ptrumpets, ukuleles, guitars, electric guitars and basses, keyboards, djembe, samba drums and varied percussion as well as music technology.  We encourage pupils specialising in particular instruments to include these in their classroom work too.

KS4 Music

GCSE music is presently a two year course, and we follow the EDUQAS syllabus. The course has 3 main components:


COMPONENT 1 :            

Performing: 30%

1 x solo

1 x ensemble

Total 4-6 mins



Composition: 30%

1 x Free Composition

1 x Exam board set a brief which you have to respond to

Total 3-6 mins



Listening paper: 1hr 15mins

This is based on:

  • AoS1: Musical Forms and Devices
  • AoS2: Music for Ensemble
  • AoS3: Film Music
  • AoS4: Popular Music


You have 2 set works to study in great detail:

  • Bach: Badinerie
  • Toto: Africa


The aims of the GCSE course are to:

  • Develop candidates’ interest and enjoyment of music that will be sustained in later life, so that they are inspired, moved and changed by studying a broad, coherent, satisfying and worthwhile course of study.
  • Develop candidates’ own musical interests and skills including an understanding of how to make music individually and in groups.
  • Enable candidates to evaluate their own and others’ music.
  • Develop understanding and appreciation and appreciation of a range of different kinds of music.
  • Develop broader life-skills and attributes including critical and creative thinking, aesthetic sensitivity, emotional awareness, cultural understanding, self-discipline, self-confidence and self-motivation


Our work at KS4 is also enhanced by visiting musicians and composers who run workshops to develop skills essential to our work for the GCSE. In 2018 we welcomed Ed Hughes, Composer; Cesca Eaton, Emmy Award winning Filmmaker and professional musicians from the Orchestra of Sound and Light to help develop our composing skills through the Cuckmere Project. Our pupils created a new piece of music to a new silent film by Cesca Eaton to show the Cuckmere River from its source to its mouth throughout the four seasons before performing it at The Attenborough Centre of Creative Arts. It was an incredible experience for all involved.

How music is assessed

In KS3, all pupils are set an aspirational target score that is based on their KS2 average point score and other relevant data. At KS4, pupils are set an aspirational target score based on Fischer Family Trust and our own internal assessment data. Pupils are expected to achieve this grade and will be supported to do so. Past paper questions are marked according to exam board mark schemes and we regularly reflect, alongside our pupils, on how the coursework compares with and meets the exam board assessment criteria.


The assessment of music is a complex area, as progress is not always ‘linear’; pupils make progress through a ‘spiral’ system by re-visiting and reinforcing areas of learning and moving between different strands of learning. At KS3 we take a holistic approach to assessment taking into account the skills of performing and composing alongside the pupils increasing their knowledge and understanding. Verbal feedback is given regularly throughout a unit of work so that all pupils can make continuous progress. Using a framework of bronze, silver and gold we focus on what it is we are aiming to achieve and how we are meeting these aims; bronze – working towards, silver – meeting and gold – exceeding.

Extra-curricular Music

We offer our young musicians an extensive range of extra-curricular experiences with something for everyone to enjoy.  Pupils really value the welcome they receive in the music area, and know that we do everything we can to help them become confident and engaged musicians.


Our regularly rehearsing ensembles include orchestra and choir and we also run songwriting, drumming, ukulele and jazz band clubs, tailoring the opportunities to suit the interests of the pupils. All pupils are encouraged to participate in an activity or to come in and practice the work that has been taking place in their curriculum lessons. The music room is never quiet, and in addition to the ‘formal’ ensembles, we rehearse for specific performance events and for Liturgies.

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