At Hillcrest we have very high expectations of our students. Great emphasis is placed on hard work, achievement and high standards of behaviour.



Music is part of the Performing Arts Faculty and has 1 large, specialist teaching room and 3 practice rooms.  Music is taught to all students in key stage 3 and is offered at key stage 4.  Students in key stage 3 receive two hour-long lessons of Music per fortnight.

In addition to this, all students have the opportunity to study an instrument with one of our visiting instrumental teachers. Most instrumental lessons are arranged during the school day with every effort made to ensure minimum disruption to lessons. Students receiving lessons are expected to participate in Hillcrests concerts and shows.

Year 7
Year 7 Autumn Term 1The Elements of Music This unit looks at how different composers have used the elements of music to describe different times of the night and day through music from different times and places. Pupils will explore how the elements of music can be adapted and manipulated to create a composition describing morning and sunrise and perform and listen to morning and night music. 1b Rhythm and Pulse Through performing, composing and listening, pupils will begin to develop their own feeling for and awareness of a regular pulse. Pupils will be able to make a clear distinction between pulse and rhythm and learn to use rhythm grids as a method of recording rhythms. Pupils are introduced to note values and notation and compose, perform and notate their own rhythm compositions including time signatures and the grouping of note values into bars to form regular units.
Year 7 Spring Term 22a:Form and Structure In this unit pupils listen to examples of music in a range of musical structures and then compose and perform within these forms. Particular emphasis in this unit is placed on staff notation and melody writing skills and pupils are encouraged to use staff notation or letter names when notating compositions 2b: Instruments of the Orchestra Pupils learn about the construction, sound production and timbres of different orchestral instruments. Pupils are introduced to the modern symphony orchestra and learn about its layout, grouping and the instruments which belong to each section including their individual and characteristic timbres. Pupils join together to play a class orchestra piece to gain and understanding of what it’s like to perform as part of a larger group and the role of individual parts to the overall texture of the music.
Year 7 Winter Term 33a:Music to Image This unit aims to explore how pictures and art can provide the inspiration and stimulus for composition. Pupils compose their own piece of music inspired by a picture or painting of their choice, which is put together to form a class exhibition. 3b: Chinese Music Pupils are introduced to the sounds of Chinese music through the integrated activities of listening, performing and composing and learn about its origins and Chinese musical instruments. The Pentatonic Scale forms the basis of study for this unit and pupils perform and compose pieces using this. Other key words and concepts included in this unit include Melody, Rhythm, Structure, Contrast, Dynamics and Drone.

Year 8
Year 8 Autumn Term 11a: Reggae Music This unit explores reggae music and the culture it comes from. The unit highlights the importance of bass lines in reggae music and how offbeat chords are a key feature of music in this genre. Pupils explore the strong and weak beats of the bar, syncopation and have the chance to arrange their own rendition of "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley. 1b:Blues Music This unit develops pupils’ understanding of bass lines and chords as a harmonic foundation upon which a melody can be constructed upon and as a foundation for improvisation. Pupils learn about the history of the Blues, the 12-bar Blues structure, how to improvise, seventh chords and "swung" rhythms.
Year 8 Spring Term 22a: Soundtracks This unit aims to give pupils the experience of being “film soundtrack composers” and explores the challenges and musical devices used in film soundtrack composition. Pupils will compose their own soundtrack to a film trailer. 2b: Pop In this unit, pupils explore the genre of popular song, learning how different artists and groups have created different musical arrangements of the same song. Pupils explore hooks and riffs and learn about their function within popular songs. Pupils then have a choice of either composing their own popular song or to perform an arrangement/cover of a popular song.
Year 8 Winter Term 33a: Variations This unit develops pupils’ ability to recognise, explore and make creative use of the elements of music found in variation form. Pupils begin this unit by working with a famous theme and exploring different musical ways in which this can be varied and developed, using the elements of music and exploring changes in tonality and rhythm. Pupils explore how composers have used variation form in a selection of music from different times and places. Finally, pupils learn about the concept of Ground Bass, as a type of Variation Form, performing Pachelbel’s “Canon” and composing their own Ground Bass Variations before looking at how Ground Bass has been used in popular song. 3b: African Drumming This unit explores the main rhythmic musical features and devices used in African music, particularly the African drumming tradition of West Africa. Pupils learn to perform different drum strokes on a drum before composing, performing and improvising simple rhythms, turning these into cyclic rhythms. These are then combined to form a polyrhythmic texture, characteristic of much African music.

Key Stage 4 Curriculum 

GCSE Music  Option Subject


Exam board website: 


Course Content

This qualification enables students to develop knowledge and understanding of music through four interrelated areas of study.

Area of study 1: Musical Forms and Devices

The music of the Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras provides the context for a study of binary, ternary, minuet and trio, rondo, variation and strophic forms. Students are encouraged to engage with a variety of music from the prescribed area, through a range of performing, composing and appraising activities.

Area of study 2: Music for Ensemble

Music for ensemble forms the basis for a study of texture and sonority. Through the study of diverse musical styles composed for ensemble, such as jazz and blues, musical theatre and chamber music, students will consider how music is composed for small groups of instruments and voices.

Area of study 3: Film Music

Through this area of study students are encouraged to consider how music for film is related, developed and performed, and the impact this has on the audience. Students have the opportunity to compose and perform film music and are encourage to use musical technology to create mood and atmosphere through engaging with the story of the film.

Area of study 4: Popular Music

Through popular music students are encouraged to explore the musical idioms associated with a variety of genres of popular music. Students will have the opportunity to perform popular music and are encouraged to use music technology, understanding the impact this has on the way music is developed and performed.


Assessment Details

This qualification is divided into 3 components based on performing, composing and appraising.

Component 1: Performing

Worth 30% of the qualification. A minimum of two pieces, one a solo performance and the other an ensemble performance are required with a total duration of 4-6 minutes.

Component 2: Composing

Worth 30% of the qualification. Two compositions, one of which is in response to a brief set by the examination board are required with a combined duration of 3-6 minutes

Component 3: Appraising

Worth 40% of the qualification. This component is assessed via a 1 hour 15 minutes listening examination where eight questions are set on extracts of music relating to four areas studied throughout the duration of the course.

Why Study This Course?

This course provides opportunity to progress onto other music related courses such as A Level Music, a degree and a career as music profession.