Curriculum Vision

‘Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.’
- Plato –

We believe that enjoyment should be at the heart of everything students experience in and around the music department. We pride ourselves on delivering a curriculum and range of enrichment activities that are accessible to all, whilst providing a suitable level of challenge that further skills and knowledge in listening and appraising, performance and composition. At Chapel High School, music is a highly regarded subject, fully supported by the governing body, where students in years 7 to 9 receive an hourly lesson each week.

Knowledge and skills

Our curriculum aims to develop a life-long love of music that extends beyond the classroom, and provides students with the contextual knowledge to appreciate how musical creativity is shaped through personal experiences, historical events and external factors. A Chapel High School student emerges at the end of their musical learning journey a well-rounded musician, with a good understanding of how music is created, produced and communicated; a good set of performance skills on a variety of instruments; and the motivation, collaborative skills and discipline for further study in music. We achieve this by delivering an ambitious and diverse curriculum that explores music from the Baroque era to the 21st Century; from Africa to the Americas; and from traditional folk music to modern club dance. At Chapel High School, students learn to play a variety of instruments to a good standard, including voice, percussion, ukulele and keyboard. They learn how to listen to and evaluate music from a range of traditions, and expand their musical vocabulary. Students are then able to create their own music using a variety of methods including improvisation, staff notation, graphic notation and music technology.

Music is an inclusive subject where all students can increase their self-confidence and celebrate their achievements. Our department provides a safe-haven, where all students feel that they can express their musical creativity, and develop further with confidence and the highest levels of support. Our enrichment activities are open to all students, and we draw on the expertise of industry professionals to further enhance students’ experiences; our wind band is led by Birmingham Junior Conservatoire’s Head of Brass, we have a string ensemble and a mixed choir. For the more popular musician, we have a Glee Club, Samba Band, rock bands, music technology club and smaller ensemble groups. We also prepare our students for further study at A-level by providing a grade 5-theory club. In an ever-changing musical landscape, our team of specialists are able to adapt and cater for almost any musical activity our students wish to pursue.


A highly experienced team of instrumental teachers supports our ensembles and musical development; we have a strong peripatetic tuition programme that is supported by Dark Peak Music Trust and Derbyshire Music Education Hub. Students are able to take advantage of our industry and local connections to perform at a range of events throughout the academic year, including our musical production, Christmas carol service, GCSE showcases and Youth Presents. We also expand the cultural capital of our students by attending musical performances and shows throughout the academic year; previous opportunities have included Buxton Music, Speech & Drama Festival, trips to watch shows in major cities, and taking full advantage of our local Buxton Opera House.

Curriculum Content

Years 7-9

Year 7 Topics include:
The Elements of Music, Soundscapes, Musical Form and Structure, Voices in Layers, The Music of India, African Polyrhythms.
Year 8 Topics include:
Chords, Jazz and Blues, Pop Music, Variations and Arranging, Writing Ballads, Reggae.
Year 9 Topics include:
Ground Bass, Hooks and Riffs, Club Dance Music, Music and the Media, GCSE preparation for those taking as an option in year 10.
Coursebook used Listening at Key Stage 3 Books 1 and 2.
Recommended websites for research or revision BBC Bitesize Music KS3

Years 10 and 11

In years 10 and 11, music is offered as an optional subject and is open to all. Students have access to a set of keyboards, acoustic guitars and ICT facilities capable of both score writing (Sibelius) and sequencing (Cubase) thus enabling all to succeed in the more challenging aspects of composition.

The OCR course provides a demanding, but contemporary, accessible and creative education in music with an integrated approach to the three main elements – performing, composing and appraising.

Qualification GCSE Music
Board OCR
Syllabus number J536
Website link
Assessment details 60% coursework
40% listening exam
Coursework details Integrated portfolio ( performance and composition) 30%
Practical component ( performance and composition) 30%
Recommended coursebook GCSE Music Study Guide
Rudland / Galley/ Marshall
Published by Rheingold
Recommended revision guides OCR GCSE Music Revision Guide
Alan Charlton
Recommended websites BBC Bitesize KS4 and school VLE

Extra-Curricular Activities

We are particularly proud of the breadth and quality of our extra-curricular provision in music. The department has a concert band, a training and senior choir and several small ensembles who regularly perform both within school and in the local community. All GCSE students take part in regular showcase performances.

The school performs an annual musical in conjunction with the drama department. Last year’s ‘Grease’ followed on from sell-out shows such as ‘Bugsy Malone’, ‘South Pacific’ and ‘Calamity Jane’ to name a few.

Each year the music department works alongside the partner primaries to produce the Youth Presents Music concerts. Each school performs its own 20-minute programme with all students contributing to the finale ensemble.

We also support students pursuing Grade 5 theory in after school sessions.

Peripatetic Teaching

We are fortunate enough to have the facilities to offer a wide and varied programme of instrumental teaching.

The school is supported by the Derbyshire County Music Partnership and most of our visiting teachers are accredited by this service. The following tuition is provided:

Clarinet and saxophone, flute, brass, violin, piano, all guitars, drum kit and voice.

Students making good progress are entered on a regular basis for ABRSM exams and Rock School exams by their teachers. Progress of students and teachers is monitored on a regular basis by both the school and Derbyshire County Music Partnership. Students who have reached Grade 2 and beyond are encouraged to join our school’s instrumental groups in order to benefit from ensemble playing. A grade 6 in an instrument counts towards a student’s GCSE points score.

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