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We all experience music in some form in our daily lives. The music department at Ashlyns recognises the importance of this and aims to develop our students’ understanding by experiencing and investigating a wide range of genres through the three key areas of performing, composing, and listening and appraising. Those who wish to, can then progress to study the subject at GCSE and A Level.

Key Stage 3

Our Key Stage 3 curriculum is designed to be accessible to all students regardless of their musical background or ability. Through practical involvement they discover music from the ‘inside’. The music department has excellent resources including a wide range of percussion, electronic keyboards and music software that are used for classwork. The students’ learning is consolidated through focused, guided listening to their performances and compositions, and to the music of established artists and composers.

Here is an overview of the current scheme of work:

Term Year 7 Year 8 Year 9
Autumn 1 Pulse Piece African Drumming Kije March
Autumn 2 Medieval Music British folk music Autumn Leaves
Spring 1 The Elements of Music Fusion music Film Music
Spring 2 The Orchestra Gamelan music Minimalism
Summer 1 Song arrangement Latin American Music Song arrangement
Summer 2 12 Bar Blues Reggae Dance music / Soundation


Key Stage 4

Music is an option subject at GCSE. The GCSE course is open to all musicians, from all musical backgrounds, and of all musical abilities. Students wishing to take the music further, however, must be committed towards taking their interest to higher levels.

GCSE Music

From September 2016 we will be following the OCR exam board syllabus. This course continues to focus on performing, composing and listening and appraising. There are five areas of study.

Area of Study 1: My Music

Students will perform and compose music

  • 1 solo performance
  • 1 group performance
  • 1 free composition
  • 1 composition to a set brief

Performances and compositions can be in/on any style and on/for any instrument/voice

Area of Study 2: The concerto through time        

Students will study the concerto and its development from 1650 – 1910

  • The Baroque solo concerto
  • The Baroque concerto grosso
  • The Classical concerto
  • The Romantic concerto

Area of Study 3: Rhythms around the World

Students will study the traditional rhythmic roots of music from four geographical regions

  • India and the Punjab
  • Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East
  • Africa
  • Central and South America

Area of Study 4: Film Music

Students will study music used in films

  • Music composed specifically for film
  • Western classical music that has been used in film
  • Music composed for the gaming industry

Area of Study 5: The conventions of pop

Students will study popular music from the 1950s onwards

  • Rock ‘n’ Roll from the 1950s and 1960s
  • Rock anthems of the 1970s and 1980s
  • Pop ballads of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s
  • Solo artists from the 1990s to the present day

Key Stage 5

Music at A level is a specialist academic subject; students opting for this will need to be at Grade 5 standard in their performing and theoretical understanding at the start of the course.

A Level Music

From September 2016 we will be delivering a full two year A level following the Pearson/Edexcel syllabus. Here is a brief outline of the course.


Students will present a solo recital towards the end of the course.


Students will complete two compositions during the course.


Students will study 18 set works over 6 areas of study. Their understanding is assessed through a 2 hour exam at the end of the course.

Extra-Curricular Music at Ashlyns

Extra-curricular music is thriving at Ashlyns school. Students may learn an instrument and tuition is provided by specialist music teachers from the Hertfordshire Music Service. We currently have a team of 13 peripatetic staff who visit the music block throughout the week. Tuition is available on all string, woodwind and brass instruments, as well as classical guitar, electric guitar, drum kit, piano, classical voice and rock/music theatre voice.

The peripatetic staff also run ensembles and these groups then feed the school orchestra and choir. The music block has a suite of practise rooms which fill up every break and lunch time with student musicians. Students are also encouraged to form their own groups and ensembles.

There are concerts and events throughout the year including informal half-termly concerts, a

Christmas carol concert, formal recital concert, a musical production every two years and a Showcase concert in the summer term. Ashlyns musicians also venture out into the local community. You may have heard our Samba drummers at events in Berkhamsted and our orchestra and singers performing at the Petertide Fair. Every two years we take 40-45 musicians on a music tour. We also have close links with the Swan Youth Centre who provide excellent practise facilities and performance opportunities for our musicians.