Music Curriculum

Music is taught in half-size classes and is practical from day one

Current Teacher

Music lessons at Cardinal Vaughan are practical from day one and many pupils enjoy the subject, achieving outstanding academic results at all levels. The School’s nationally renowned new music facilities ensure that music lessons take place in an inspiring environment.

Key Stage Three

At Key Stage Three boys are taught music in half-size classes (averaging 14 boys). This allows the individual attention necessary to be given. All music lessons are practical and there is a focus on the development of performing and composing skills, alongside developing musical understanding and knowledge.

A wide range of topics are explored including music from the Western Classical tradition, popular music and jazz, folk music and world music. Boys can expect to play keyboards, sing, play percussion instruments, working on their own and in groups. There is extensive use of Music ICT and boys use music computers from the First Form to explore compositional techniques.

Key Stage Four

GCSE Music is a very popular subject with large numbers of boys opting for it every year.

The Department follows the EDEXCEL Course which has the following areas of study:

Western Classical Music 1600-1899

Music in the Twentieth Century

Popular Music in Context

World Music

Pupils are required to:

Perform, both solo and in an ensemble - this can be on any instrument or indeed the computer (30%).

Compose two pieces of music lasting between two and four minutes (30%).

Take a Listening Exam based on the following twelve Set Works studied during the course (40%).

Area of Study 1 – Western classical music 1600-1899

  • G F Handel: Chorus: And the Glory of the Lord from Messiah, HWV 56
  • W A Mozart: 1st Movement from Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K 550
  • F Chopin: Prelude No 15 in D flat major, Op. 28

Area of Study 2 – Music in the 20th century

  • A Schoenberg: Peripetie from Five Orchestral Pieces, Op. 16
  • L Bernstein: Something’s Coming from West Side Story
  • S Reich: 3rd Movement (fast) from Electric Counterpoint

Area of Study 3 – Popular music in context

  • M Davis: All Blues from the album Kind of Blue
  • J Buckley: Grace from the album Grace
  • Moby: Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad? From the album Play

Area of Study 4 – World music

  • Capercaillie: Skye Waulking Song from the album Nàdurra
  • A Shankar: Rag Desh from the album Live at Carnegie Hall
  • Koko: Yiri  

Music in the Sixth Form

The Music Department offers the new and extremely rewarding Cambridge Pre U (Pre University) in the Sixth Form, one of very few state Schools in the country to do so. You will learn to perform, compose freely, write pastiche music, orchestrate and arrange music, listen and analyse, write essays, study musical history and sociology, all within a practical framework. Already very highly thought of by Universities, the Pre U course will give you the opportunity to develop your musical potential to the full.

You must play an instrument/sing to a standard equivalent to at least Grade V Associated Board standard and also have passed the Grade V Theory Examination to take this subject in the Sixth Form. Musicians working in all styles can take this subject but you must be able to read and write music and have a genuine interest in a wide variety of music, including music from the classical tradition.

Please note that there are no Exams in the Lower Sixth with the Music Pre U – all exams are taken at the end of the two years. Those who are interested in taking only an AS in Music should speak to the Director of Music at the Open Evenings.

The Pre U Music course comprises four components, all taken at the end of the Upper Sixth.


1 Listening, Analysis and Historical Study 30% Written papers (3hrs)

2 Performance 22.5%

25-30 minutes marked by a visiting examiner

3 Composing 22.5%

2 hr Exam plus coursework plus a commissioned composition

4 Option – One of: 25%


Advanced Recital

Free Composition

Recent Sixth Form Music students have gone on to read a wide variety of subjects at University including Music, many at Oxbridge and the other most highly regarded Universities, including the Music Conservatoires. Music is regarded very highly by University Admission Tutors for all subjects because of the self-discipline and the variety of skills it requires. The Music Industry in all its guises offers endless opportunities to those with the talent and motivation.

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