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Welcome to

St Albans Girls' School


The Department

Curriculum Leader: Mrs E Warren

Music is taught to all students in Years 7 to 9 and covers a wide range of styles from around the globe and from various points in history – from Year 7 Indonesian Gamelan and Year 8 Opera, to Year 9 Pop Songs!

It is available as an option at GCSE and A Level.

At all levels, the three main areas of focus are listening, performing and composing. Many of our students take instrumental lessons within the school day provided by visiting teachers provided by Hertfordshire Music Service.

There are three choirs, two orchestras and the Concert Band that form the backbone of the extra-curricular activities as well as many smaller ensembles such as the various string quartets, wind ensembles and guitar groups. These meet regularly at lunchtimes and after school and perform in regular concerts held at the school.

There are also termly opportunities for pupils to perform solo and smaller ensemble works in the Chamber Concerts. A highlight of the year is the choirs’ performances as part of the annual school Carol Service in St Albans Abbey.

The Music Department hosts fourteen highly experienced visiting peripatetic teachers, teaching a range of instruments on an individual basis. These are highly popular and a significant percentage of students undertake such individual instrumental lessons.


What will be studied?

Year 7

  • The Elements of Music – exploration of the foundations of Music.
  • African Music
  • Keyboard Skills and the Circle of Fifths
  • French Impressionism

Year 8

  • Latin American Music
  • Jazz & Blues
  • Opera and Musicals
  • Instruments of the Orchestra and Film Music

Year 9

Year 9 students follow the independent learning project ‘Musical Futures’. In the year long project students will learn different methods of performing and composing than the more traditional routes of note-reading that they have developed earlier in the school. Much emphasis is placed on managing projects during this year, and working as a team. Appraisal of the music created takes place during each lesson to ensure that the language is developed for GCSE.

What support is needed?

  • Encourage them to learn an instrument privately.
  • Practice at home.
  • Join an extra-curricular club.
  • Dust off any old instruments lurking at home – we can bring them to life again!

How will they be assessed?

  • Tests at the end of each module
  • Through Unit Assessment projects
  • End of year examination


Exam Board: Eduqas

Specification Number

Course Content:

Unit 1: Performance

A portfolio of performances, usually consisting of:

  • One solo performance
  • One ensemble performance

Unit 2: Composition

Two compositions (coursework) of approximately two minutes each

Unit 3: Listening & appraising examination (1hr 15 mins) based on listening extracts from set works from the following areas of study:

  • Musical Forms and devices
  • Music for Ensemble
  • Film Music
  • Popular Music                                                                                           

How will they be assessed?

Coursework is marked both on an interim and then, at the end of the course, a final basis.  Other informal assessments take place throughout the course.  Students will complete analysis questions and homework throughout the year to check their understanding of the Set Works.  There is a final Listening examination at the end of the course based on listening extracts.  Performance is examined through a final privately recorded performance of a solo and ensemble piece.

  • Performing coursework = 30%
  • Composition coursework = 30%
  • Listening exam = 40%

A Level

Exam Board: Eduqas

Specification Number

Course Content:

Unit 1: Performance

  • A recital of two (25% of final grade) or three (35% of final grade) pieces on their chosen instruments. One of the pieces in the 25% option, and two of the pieces in the 35% option must link to an Area of Study. The recital should be of between 6 and 8 minutes for the 25% option, and 10 and 12 minutes for the 35% option at a minimum standard of Grade VI.

Unit 2: Composition

  • A choice of two (25% of final mark) or three compositions (35% of final mark). Depending on the option, one or two of these will be in relation to a brief set by the board, and the second or third will be a free choice.
  • Total time for the 25% option would be 4-6 minutes, and for the 35% option, 8-10 minutes.

Unit 3: Students sit a 2 hour written paper ‘Appraising’

  • Knowledge and understanding of musical elements, contexts and language will be explored through the study of set works that fall into the following categories; The Western Classical Tradition, one of Rock & Pop, Musical Theatre or Jazz and one of Twentieth Century Music, or Music into the Twenty-First Century.
  • Students will also be required to apply this knowledge to unfamiliar works.


A combination of learning methods will be employed – ranging from research lessons, teacher and student led score analysis, practical performance, individual composition time and listening and harmonic exercises.

Why Music at St Albans Girls’ School?

We have a well resourced music department with 5 practice rooms which can be booked for individual or group rehearsals.  We have 2 music classrooms, one of which has 8 computers equipped with Sibelius 7 for composition work and we have access to a Mac Suite.  We have 11 visiting peripatetic teachers who offer individual tuition on most orchestral and rock/pop instruments, and a large number of ensembles which are open to all AS/A-level students to join, including Senior Orchestra, Concert Band, String group, Woodwind ensemble, Senior Choir and Chamber Choir.

Expectations of students:

To regularly attend peripatetic music lessons and to participate in at least one extra-curricular Music club, set preparation to be completed as well as background reading and listening around the historical context of set works. Regular instrumental practice must be undertaken.

What websites are recommended?

What equipment is needed?

Your instrument
Access to repertoire for your instrument (your sheet music)
Manuscript paper
Writing paper
Basic stationery
Folder with dividers

Career Paths:

As music combines well with both arts and sciences, a range of careers are possible. However, directly musical careers may be in performance, composition, workshop leading, education, publishing, arts administration and management, computer technology, theatre and music therapy.

Get in touch

Mr P O'Neill, Trust Business Manager

Sandridgebury Lane

St Albans



01727 853134