Music and Music Technology

Department staff:

Mrs E Dunbar: Subject Leader

Mr T Burnage (HPL)

Mrs K Welford

Mr I Wilson


In Music and Music Technology we aim to the nurture and inspire enquiring and creative minds, alongside teaching the rigours of academic study and formality of practice. In the curriculum we teach how Music works, and from day one everyone is treated as a musician regardless of their starting point. Playing and singing together beyond the classroom is one way in which students can become part of our school community. Public performances allow parents and friends to see the difference that being part of the Music family makes to students in forming mature working relationships and lifelong friendships. In addition to being musicologists, composers and performers, students become Music mentors, coaches, arrangers and rehearsal directors as they make their way through the school.

At the core of what we do is the development of students’ skills in self discipline, creativity, and intellectual inquiry.


Key Stage 3:

Overview of class lessons.

Right from the start of year 7 students are taught the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to compose, arrange, perform, record, edit and evaluate music. The way that students demonstrate their understanding is through the application of what they have learnt in sound. In lots of ways the final musical product is a bonus. Students are taught how to hear, how to listen, how to analyse, and how to turn the understanding of process into sound.

Overview of Music beyond the classroom.

There is something for everyone. Students may wish to take up instrumental or vocal tuition with a visiting specialist. You can find out how to access this via the school website. /students/extra-curricular/instrumental-tuition

Beyond this we have 4 choirs, and a variety of bands and instrumental groups for students to participate in according to their experience rather than their age.

Our performances to the public are advertised through the school website and our twitter feed…@HuntSchoolMusic.


What happens in Music beyond the classroom at KS3/4/5

Students follow their interests and skills and collaborate across year groups. In this context they can meet and work with like-minded individuals in collaborative work from duos to 80 piece ensembles. There are regular performance opportunities and whenever we can, we get out of school to experience live performance both as participants and audience members.

The learning that is taking place in extracurricular music is an intrinsic part of becoming a well-rounded musician.

Musically students learn the value of:

·      Structured, meaningful practice, perseverance, and self-motivation.

·      Good ensemble skills, being able to read at sight, consideration of others and how to follow a conductor’s direction.

·      Self-managing rehearsals, managing peers and working to a deadline.

·      Taking risks and the challenges of live performance.

·      Making mistakes and having the grit to keep going.

·      Exploring the unfamiliar, celebrating cultural diversity, and challenging their own cultural perceptions.

·      Being part of a community and the joy of the camaraderie that brings.

·      Being a mentor and source of inspiration to other musicians.




What happens in the classroom at KS3?

Fundamentally we teach students how Music works, what the building blocks are, where to find them in existing pieces of music, how to recreate the familiar and how create something brand new.


Side by side with the creating process is the acquisition of specialist language, so that students can demonstrate their understanding, ideas and opinions precisely and concisely. Mastery of language also enables students to be able to ask the right questions and address areas of weakness.


In a typical cycle of 7 KS3 lessons:

·      We will take an existing piece of music, deconstruct it, and reconstruct in over a number of weeks.

·      In doing this we are learning how a piece of music is made.

·      We may for example look at a chord sequence, explore how it is built, why the chords work well together, simplify/elaborate on them, and create a bassline, melody and counter melody to run alongside them.

·      We may look into the balance and contrast of change in a piece a music. How do we know when it’s time to move on and develop an idea, when is too soon, when is too late?

·      We may look at how to create contrast but maintain integrity. How to begin, how to end, when change is good and when consistency and uniformity the order of the day.

·      We make and listen and do, then revise, question, evaluate and write using specialist language that is both helpful and academically stretching. All of this happens through sound, sound words, and notation.

·      For 1/3 of the year we will be using Music technology to ‘realise’ our ideas. In this setting Musical ideas can be on a grander scale and often culminates in a more adventurous and complex final artefact.


Throughout the learning process students are being given the models and tools for creativity, spontaneity, confidence, leadership, initiative, tenacity, patience and consideration for others.

They are being encouraged to take musical risks, and develop the ability to cope with change and challenge. At the same time we are laying down the foundations of enjoying Music for Music’s sake, as well as recognising its transferable properties.


Key Stage 4: GCSE Music

This is an immensely creative and fulfilling course suitable to a really wide range of musicians, with different tastes, and different starting points. Students can begin the course without being particularly skilled as an instrumentalist or vocalist but must have the desire to want to develop their playing or vocal skills.


We are often asked why students would want to take Music if they don’t want to be a musician when they leave school. Breadth and balance of subjects is really important at this stage of students’ learning. The most important thing is that students take Music at GCSE because they love it. Beyond that it’s a fantastic way to experience the challenges of working to a brief, working to external deadlines, and seeing a project through. It’s also a brilliant course for developing high quality analytical language, developing resilience, and enjoying seeing a job well done.


Assessment details

60% coursework controlled assessment, 40% examination.

Unit 1 Listening (40%): Exam paper with listening exercises and written questions using excerpts of music. (similar style to listening tests at GCSE)

Unit 2 Performance (30%): 1 solo, 1 group piece (15% each)

Unit 3 Composition (30%): 2 Compositions. 1 to a brief, 1 free.


Examination board: AQA


Useful Subject Links:


Key Stage 5:

At KS5 we offer 2 distinct A level qualifications: Music A level and Music Technology A level.


Music A level (Edexcel)

This is a really challenging course but also an enormously rewarding one.  The course provides students with the opportunity to really understand how music works both by making it and by analysing it. Students learn how Music in its many forms has evolved, and who the great movers and shakers are. This is a course for those who enjoy both the creative freedom of composition, and the commitment and dedication needed for performance. It is also course for those who enjoy the intellectual rigour of research and analysis and want the opportunity to develop their skills in the fields of academic research, analysis, essay writing, and critical thinking. The course encompasses a vast range of musical styles and traditions, covering everything from Western Art Music, 1600 – present day, contemporary Celtic folk, popular music, to Cuban Son and Indonesian gamelan.


Unit 1: Performing 30% 60 marks (marked externally)

In this unit students are free to play or sing in any style that they like, but will be advised on repertoire choices, and individually coached in technical control, expressive control and interpretation over the 2 years of the course.

Performance work must last for a minimum of 8 minutes and the final recording is a public performance presented as a recital. The 8 minutes can be any combination of playing or singing solo and/or in an ensemble.


Unit 2:  Composing 30% 60 marks split 40/20 (marked externally)

In this unit students write 1 original composition (min 4  minutes) either free or from a choice of briefs provided by the exam board in September of the year of examination. Composition techniques and processes are taught in the first year before coursework begins in year 13. In year 13 individual composition coaching is tailor-made to suite the route each student has chosen to take.

This unit also includes a techniques paper (min 1 minute) where students demonstrate their understanding of the compositional processes found in 4 part voice setting by harmonising a Bach chorale. This “4 part” work impacts directly on the skeleton score and aural questions found in unit 3. It also informs students when evaluating the provenance of works found in the essay writing of unit 3, and is the cornerstone of composition, part writing, and orchestration. It is a highly prized skill that the best universities and conservatoires value enormously.

The combined duration of the pieces must be at least 6 minutes.


Unit 3:  Appraising 40%  100 marks 2hr written exam (marked externally)

In this unit students study 6 categories: Vocal music , Instrumental music, Film music, Popular music and Jazz,  fusions of Western Art Music and World music, the Avant-garde and Experimental music. It is a vast canon of music that we can only scratch the surface of, but it is an invaluable way of opening doors to unfamiliar musical worlds. For depth as well as breadth, students also study 3 set pieces in each category  in a lot more detail. Some of the greatest and best known ground breaking works are here like Stravinsky “Rite of Spring”, and Kate Bush “Hounds of Love” but the set works also explore roads less travelled with works like Saariaho’s “Petals” and Cage’s “Pieces for prepared piano”. Students study works in terms of the key musical figures that influenced each composer, and in turn each composer’s own legacy. Students explore both provenance and context alongside in-depth musical analysis. It is a fascinating and intellectually challenging process.

The exam consists of 3 skeleton score questions related to the set works, melodic and rhythmic exercises, an essay question on an unknown work, and an essay question on a set work.



Music Technology A level (Edexcel)

This is a course for anyone who has an interest in how music and sound is recorded, manipulated and produced. This course will enable students to develop specific skills working in a studio based environment, writing original music alongside making and refining recordings using live and synthesised instruments. This is underpinned by developing a theoretical understanding of sound and audio production to be demonstrated through analysis, essay writing, critical thinking and organisation of information. Students will also develop transferable skills in managing projects and people, analysing and critically assessing work, working to a brief and developing creativity and imagination.


Unit 1: Recording

(Coursework, 20% of the qualification)

Students will learn how to make high quality recordings using the studio facilities at Huntington. They will be taught how to capture, edit, process and mix an audio recording. The chosen track will be from a list of 10 songs provided by the exam board. The student will take on the role of ‘producer’ and as such there is no requirement to perform any of the parts (suitable musicians will be identified); however, there are ample opportunities to perform for those that wish to.


Unit 2: Technology-based composition

(Coursework, 20% of the qualification)

Students will be taught the principles of crafting high quality musical compositions using technology. Through creating, editing, manipulating and organizing sound – students will respond to one of the briefs set each year. Students will learn how to work creatively with synthesisers, sampled audio and effects units.


Unit 3: Listening and analysing

(1 hour 30 minutes written exam)

Students will explore the history and development of recording and production technology as well as contemporary recording and production techniques. They will explore how music technology is used for both corrective and creative purposes and will demonstrate this knowledge in the context of a set of unfamiliar commercial recordings. Students will each receive an individual CD which they will control during the examination.


Unit 4: Producing and analysing

(2 hours 15 minutes written and practical exam)

Students will be examined on their knowledge and understanding of editing, mixing and production techniques. Each student will be provided with a set of unfamiliar audio and MIDI materials which they will correct and combine to form a completed mix. Student will answer questions related to the practical tasks and provide written commentaries on music technology theory. Students’ capacity to apply familiar knowledge both theoretical and practical to unfamiliar scenarios develops problem solving and creative thinking which are invaluable transferable skills.