Music is an essential part of life at St. Mary’s and we have a strong reputation for musical excellence. Every child at St. Mary’s College has the opportunity to participate in a varied programme of extra-curricular musical activities including regular concerts at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall and the outdoor Proms in the Park music and fireworks concert. There are three choirs, a junior and a senior concert band, a chamber orchestra, a school orchestra, a stage band and various smaller ensembles. Our choirs, orchestras and bands have completed successful tours of Spain, France, The Netherlands, Australia, USA, Canada, Italy and Switzerland.
- To provide all pupils with the opportunity to develop their natural talent in music.
- To support and develop the musical life of the College.
- To encourage ensemble music making as part of the College’s extended curricular programme.
- To deliver a balanced, engaging and inclusive curriculum in music.
- To offer positive encouragement to young musicians at all levels of the school.
- To achieve excellence in performance at GCSE and A Level examinations.
- To pursue excellence at every level of practical music making.
- To provide pupils with the opportunity for service through participation in the wider community.
Key Stage 3
In Year 7, pupils receive one lesson per week on their preferred instrument as part of the curriculum. Those pupils with previous experience of learning an instrument are placed on an accelerated and personalised programme of study. Pupils also receive lessons in keyboard skills, music theory and musicianship.
In Years 8 and 9, pupils study a variety of genres and styles through performance, composition, listening and appraising, and music theory. Instrumental lessons become optional from Year 8 onwards.
The department follows the two-year Edexcel GCSE course. The course consists of three units:
Unit 1 - Performance – 30%
Candidates perform two pieces on their chosen Instrument or Voice - one Solo, the other as part of an Ensemble. Each piece carries equal weighting of 15%.
Unit 2 - Composition – 30%
Candidates produce two compositions, or two arrangements, or one composition and one arrangement based on different Areas of Study. Each composition is internally and externally assessed and carries equal weighting of 15%
Composition 1: Pupils are advised to compose in the genre of Western Classical Music 1600 – 1899 and takes the form of a theme and set of variations.
Composition 2: This may be based on any of the other three Areas of Study. Traditionally, this composition has taken the form of a Popular Music piece from area of study 3.
Unit 3 - Listening and Appraising – 40%
A 1,5 hour listening and appraising exam based on four Areas of Study:
- Western Classical Music 1600-1899
- Music in the 20th Century
- Popular music in context
- World Music
The content for the unit is grouped into the above four Areas of Study, each of which contains three set works and uses musical elements including harmonic, melodic and rhythmic devices, structure and form and genre to aid delivery.
Music is taught at both AS and A2 Level with students consistently achieving grades higher than expected.
The Music Department is proud of its 100% pass rate (Grade A*–C) and allows students who may not have taken music at GCSE level to undertake the AS course, subject to candidates passing Grade V Associated Board, or equivalent, practical exam.
Our motto of ‘Music for all’ is very evident in that we make studying academic music as accessible as possible. It is not just for the Mozarts of this world!
MUSC1: Influences on Music Written paper 1 hour 45 minutes ! Section A contains structured listening questions using a CD of musical excerpts. Candidates answer two essay questions, one based on the set work from the compulsory Area of Study Western Classical Tradition (Beethoven Symphony No 1 movements 1 and 2), and one based on a second Area of Study chosen from: ! Choral Music in the Baroque Period ! Music Theatre: a study of the musical from 1940 to 1980 ! British Popular Music from 1960 to the Present Day
MUSC2: Composing: Creating Musical Ideas Externally assessed coursework completed in controlled time. Candidates respond to one brief from a choice of three: ! Compositional techniques ! Free composition or pastiche ! Arranging
MUSC3: Performing: Interpreting Musical Ideas Internally assessed coursework Candidates offer two performances from a choice of six, including opportunities for solo, ensemble and/or technology-based performance.
MUSC4: Music in Context Written paper 2 hours 15 minutes Section A contains structured listening questions using a CD of musical excerpts. Candidates then answer two essay questions, one based on the chosen set work from the compulsory Area of Study, The Western Classical Tradition, and one based on a second Area of Study chosen from: ! English Choral Music in the 20th century ! Chamber Music from Mendelssohn to Debussy ! Four decades of Jazz and Blues 1910 to 1950
MUSC5: Composing: Developing Musical Ideas Externally assessed coursework completed in controlled time. Candidates respond to one brief from a choice of three: ! Compositional techniques ! Free composition or pastiche ! Arranging
MUSC6: Performing: A Musical Performance A fifteen-minute recital which is externally assessed Candidates will offer two (or more) contrasting pieces to form a short programme for either solo acoustic performance and/or performance via music technology.
Beyond the classroom
Pupils have the opportunity to perform in a wide range of successful College ensembles: Symphony Orchestra, Symphonic Wind Band, Baroque String Consort, Chamber Choir, Show Choir, Training Choir, Training Concert Band, Training Orchestra, Senior and Lower School Flute Ensemble, Wind Octet, Symphonic Brass Ensemble and Stage Band.
Opportunities for performance are offered in a variety of different venues and occasions: Festival of Music at the Philharmonic Hall, College Carol Service, Proms in the Park, Fireworks Concert, GCSE and A Level Recital Evenings, Music Festivals, Year 7 Concert, Lower School Concert, and performances in the wider community.
Musical theatre productions – most recently Grease, Oliver, Bugsy Malone, Wizard of Oz, Joseph and West Side Story.
Junior and Senior ensemble music tours – destinations have included France, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong.
The College is a centre for Associated Board Practical and Theory Exams. Over 150 pupils sit these exams each year.
Pupils of the appropriate standard are encouraged to participate in area ensembles such as the Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and Youth Choir.