Department Background

Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. (Plato)

Head of Department: Dr J Harrison

Teachers: Mrs E Man, Miss K Greally

Music plays a central role in the life of Latymer. Many pupils are attracted to the school, not just because of its academic excellence, but also because of the considerable opportunities that exist, both in the curriculum and in our extensive range of extra-curricular activities. It is, quite simply, different from other subjects and can provide a richness and colour to many pupils’ lives, as well as helping develop their interpersonal and social skills.

We aim, through music, to promote key skills that will contribute to the balanced development of all our pupils, including dedication, commitment, listening skills, organisation, persistence, resilience, and teamwork. Pupils arrive at Latymer with a range of musical experience and ability; our aim is to provide opportunities for all and for their lives to be enriched as a result.

We have a team of experienced and skilled classroom and visiting instrumental teachers – nearly 30 in total - all committed to providing a high-quality musical provision for Latymer pupils.

Our aims:

  • For pupils to gain an appreciation of how music ‘works’ and develop vocabulary to be able to analyse music and express opinions.
  • For pupils to see the world of music as rich and diverse.
  • To encourage musical curiosity and creativity.
  • For all pupils to engage in a range of musical activities, including singing and playing a selection of classroom instruments.
  • To give pupils the opportunity to explore music technology, including Logic and Sibelius software.
  • To provide all pupils with the techniques and confidence to be able to compose their own music in groups and, encouraging increasing independence and originality.
  • To ensure that the most talented and ambitious musicians are able to fulfil their musical potential in and out of the classroom.
  • To provide opportunities for pupils to develop transferrable skills such as effective teamwork and organisation, as well as encouraging pupils to show mutual respect, appreciation and support.

Year 7 - 9

Key stage 3

In Year 7, pupils are taught in whole class groups, having four lessons (two single lessons and one double) in each two-week cycle. In Years 8 and 9 pupils are taught in two half-class groups, having one double lesson per fortnight. Year 9 classes receive an additional set of Extra Music lessons, geared towards music technology, each pupil completing three projects over the course of the year using Logic and Sibelius software on our suite of Macs.

Projects at Key Stage 3 are usually completed each half term. The emphasis is on practical music-making wherever possible – ‘learning by doing’ - with differentiation to cater for all levels of ability. Singing and classroom instruments are at the heart of most of our lessons, with pupils encouraged to use their own instruments when appropriate. Topics include classical music, jazz, pop, ‘world’ music and music for stage and screen, with ongoing assessment of pupils’ progress through performing, composing and appraising. Key stage 3 also serves to lay secure foundations for those pupils who choose to continue to GCSE Music.

Year 7 Year 8 Year 9
Elements of Music/ What is Music Blues and Improvisation Caribbean Music
Ostinato: Machine Music Folk Songs Pop Song composition
Songs for Music at Latymer World Tour Minimalism
Keyboard Project Stand By Me (Logic) Variations
Instruments for the Orchestra Operas and Musicals Pop Song Covers
Mostly Mozart Year 9 Extra Music (Logic, Sibelius)
Mr Blue Sky Arrangement

Year 10 - 11

Edexcel GCSE Music is taught as a two-year course to two groups (typically 35 pupils per year) of equal ability, both groups working with their teacher on concurrent topics. Pupils are taught the three areas of performing, composing and appraising, across the various areas of study, with links being made between the three areas of assessment wherever possible. Solo and ensemble performing takes place in lessons and chamber concerts; composition is taught in various styles and by applying various techniques; and set works (analysed through various activities) cover a broad spectrum, from pop and jazz, film music, classical, folk and various ‘world’ music styles. d jazz, film music, classical, folk and various ‘world’ music styles.

Year 12 - 13

Typically 10-15 students study music in Year 12 (taking a ‘UCAS’ – previously AS – exam at the end of the year) and 8-12 continue to complete A level Music in Year 13.

In the sixth form A level students gain further performance experience, working towards a final recital (30%). The craft of composition (30%) is covered in a variety of ways, encouraging students to develop their composition ‘tool kit’ and the ability and confidence to write extended compositions. Understanding of harmony is developed throughout the course, both to help with analysis, to broaden students’ harmonic vocabulary for composition, and to cover the skills required for the ‘composition techniques’ element. The A level set works for the Appraising paper (40%) cover a broad range of styles and musical cultures across six Areas of Study: Instrumental Music, Vocal Music, Music for Stage and Screen, Pop and Jazz, Fusions and New Directions.

Activities and Recent Highlights

Extra-Curricular Activities

Latymer is well known for its rich tradition of extra-curricular music; it provides opportunities for pupils throughout the school, catering for beginner to advanced musicians. About 400 individual instrumental or singing lessons take place in a typical school week. In seven years at the school, some pupils experience over 50 performance events, including Music at Latymer, Orchestral Concert, Winter Concert, Carol Service, ‘Pop, Jazz and All That’, Gala Concert, Chamber Concerts and performances in Junior and Senior Musical Productions (most recently, Annie and The Sound Of Music respectively).

Choirs typically include Junior Singers, Senior Choir, Chamber Choir (auditioned) and a cappella groups for Year 9-10. Sinfonia Orchestra is for pupils at about Grade 5-6 standard, with Symphony Orchestra from Grade 7 upwards, from which Chamber Orchestra is a sub-group of Grade 8 players. Concert Winds is for woodwind and brass players at about Grade 2-5 standard, with Wind Orchestra Grade 5 upwards. Concert Strings is intended for string players at about Grade 1-5 standard. Additionally, pupils organise pop and jazz groups on an informal basis.

Groups such as Year 10 Flute Ensemble, Year 9 String Ensemble, Double Reed Ensemble, Brass Quintet, and Guitar Ensembles, rehearse for part of the year, usually leading towards a concert performance.

Sixth form students are encouraged to take responsibility for running musical ensembles, including a cappella groups Barbershop and A Cut Above, Jazz Band and chamber music; Indian Music Ensemble and Klezmer Ensemble have also featured. Students also organise the four items for their House (Orchestra, Junior Choir, Senior Choir, Chamber Ensemble) in our biennial House Music Competition, and co-ordinate the music for our ‘Pop, Jazz and All That’ evening. Our annual Instrumental and Vocal Performance Competition can see as many as 200 entries across the school.

Concerto opportunities are offered to some of our most advanced sixth form performers and we have also performed student compositions. Our annual Music Tour gives Chamber Orchestra and Chamber Choir the opportunity to perform in prestigious venues in Europe, such as Chartres Cathedral, St Mark’s, Venice, and Brussels Cathedral. We also participate in charity events in and out of school and Chamber Orchestra have participated in the Music for Youth festival, winning awards at national level and performing in Birmingham (Symphony Hall, Adrian Boult Hall) and London (Cecil Sharp House, Royal Festival Hall, Royal Albert Hall) in recent years.

Destinations

Since 2018, 23 of our A level Music students (average over 5 per year) have proceeded to study music at leading universities (including Cambridge) or music conservatoires. Our A level Music students go on to study a wide range of other subjects at degree level, ranging from languages and humanities to Mathematics, Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Medicine.