Music is a subject that is uniquely placed in the school timetable. Students experience music everyday in their lives; whether it is their own music, on the radio, on TV or in film, or their parents’ music; just by doing their own thing students gain a wide experience of the subject outside the classroom. Music at Brakenhale aims to draw on these experiences, and develop them further in school. Where ever possible the curriculum is designed to engage students by learning about and discussing the things they have heard outside the classroom. This link between what happens inside and outside of school is one of the key things about the department, and helps students to see the relevance of what they are learning in a wider context. Along with this, Music is taught as practically as possible. We believe that music should be played and listened to, and not just written and talked about. This heavily impacts on our planning as students are much more enthusiastic about a subject that they get to experience first hand and perform themselves. This effort to teach music practically is coupled with an attempt to emphasize the importance of performance, group work, and communication skills and students are constantly developing these tools alongside their musical skill, again providing a wider context for music in the students’ lives. Another of the key philosophies of the department is to allow students to develop the tools to become musicians, and not just students in a classroom. We want student to have the skills to be able to participate in music whenever and wherever they can, and not just with a teacher telling them what to press and when. Above all we want students to enjoy music and to engage in genuinely meaningful musical experiences. This might be performing to other students in class, or developing sufficient listening skills to experience music on a deeper outside the classroom, or performing to a wider audience, but we hope that every student can take a wide range of skills and knowledge from this department during their time at Brakenhale.
During years 7 to 9 students experience a wide range of musical genres, along with developing important musical skills. Students study units such as; Traditional notation, Major and Minor chords, Using Chord Sheets, Song Writing, Japanese Music, Improvisation, Band Workshops, Reggae, Covers, Aural Development and Creating Scores. This curriculum has been carefully designed to improve students’ instrumental skills, group work and communication skills in order to develop knowledgeable musicians both in and out of the classroom.
The GCSE at Brakenhale looks to build on the students’ experience of music in KS3, and focuses on practical music making as well as theory. The students are assessed in Solo Performance, Ensemble Performance, Free Composition, Composition to a Brief and there is a listening exam.
Students in year 12 and 13 study either the BTEC in music performance, which has a heavy emphasis on playing music and preparing students for work as a musician, or an A level in music, depending on the students that opt for the subject post-16.