Music & Music Technology

Course ID
Performing Arts
A-Level, GCSE, KS3
Subject Leader
Mr B Judson
Music & Music Technology

Subject Overview

Music at Waddesdon is a thriving, primarily practical subject that enables students to express themselves through a variety of performing, composing and listening/analytical activities. We believe that music learning is at its best when young people are making music on instruments or using music technology, and when a passion for music is nurtured, reflected and built upon both in the classroom and through an extensive extra-curricular offer.


Mr Ben Judson

Subject Leader for Performing Arts / Music

Mrs Melinda Carr-Ruby

Music Teacher

Miss Lauren Osborne

Music Teacher

Curriculum Intent

In KS3, students build a foundation in music performance, composition, and listening/analysing through project-based learning. We aim to nurture a passion for music through a predominantly practical approach to lessons.

In KS4, we offer qualifications in both Music and Music Technology.

GCSE Music covers a broad range of musical styles without focusing on set works. OCR’s rich syllabus provides learners with a wealth of musical knowledge, from film music to world music, from popular music ballads to rock anthems, and the concerto as found within western art music. Having such a variety of musical styles to study helps students understand wider musical concepts than perhaps using set works would allow. The listening exam is 40%, with performance and composition elements taking up 30% each. Students are required to compose from a brief for one of their pieces, which is good preparation for work within the industry. The other ‘free’ composition gives students a chance to show off their creativity without constraints. The performance aspect requires learners to perform both solo and as part of an ensemble, testing their individual skill and their ability to work with others.

Music Technology at GCSE level enables learners to develop skills, knowledge and understanding of the music technology industry. We follow the NCFE syllabus, a course that is suitable for learners who are motivated and challenged by learning through hands-on experiences and have a passion for popular music of all styles. The qualification allows learners to gain practical skills in creating music using technology through completing 4 units, which form an evidence portfolio (internally assessed, 50% of the course) covering the following areas:

Setting up and using a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
Popular music styles and composition to a specified brief, using audio and MIDI editing tools
Studio recording (planning a recording session, acting as the engineer for the session and mixing the final recordings)
Sound creation for film and computer games
Students are also required to complete 2 synoptic external assessments – Practical (35% – a timed mixing and editing task) and Written (15% – listening skills, knowledge and language).

In KS5, we aim for students to excel as well-rounded musicians who are creative and analytical, professional-standard performers and inspirational composers, seeking to inspire and encourage the wider community.

We follow the BTEC Level 3 Extended Certificate in Music Performance specification. In a world where a musician must show diversity and adaptability, the BTEC course helps students understand the essential skills and knowledge they will need to survive within the industry. This vocational course is an excellent mode of preparation for a future within the music industry. Learners will have the opportunity to grow as performers, musicologists, event planners, composers and producers. In a world where a musician must be a “jack of all trades”, the BTEC course is a challenging, formal, engaging and useful way of helping students understand the essential skills and knowledge they will need to survive within the music industry.

Key Stage 3

KS3 Booklet
Year 7 Overview
  • Elements of Music – Samba percussion and vocals
  • 4 Chords (Musical Futures) – Playing popular music as part of an ensemble
  • The Story of Music – Using GarageBand to create a piece that reflects monumental developments in Western art music
  • Reggae – Playing chords on a choice of keyboard, ukulele or guitar
  • Blues – 12 bar blues, improvisation, lyric writing
  • Dance Music/Club Dance – Using GarageBand to compose rhythmic, harmonic and melodic parts
Year 8 Overview
  • Funk – Performance project on hooks, riffs, extended chords and syncopation
  • Film Music & Leitmotifs – GarageBand composition for a movie trailer
  • Band Skills 1 (Musical Futures) – Playing set pieces of popular music as part of an ensemble
  • Songwriting – Composing music and lyrics
  • Jazz – Ensemble performance project developing skills in improvisation
  • Band Skills 2 (Musical Futures) – Developing ensemble performance skills through arrangement

Key Stage 4

KS4 Booklet KS4 Syllabus (Music) KS4 Syllabus (Music Technology)
GCSE Overview


Students are taught the following topics in Years 9 to 11:

  • Performance (Coursework – 30%) – Solo and ensemble performance techniques
  • Composition (Coursework – 30%) – Composition techniques for creating music on students’ own instruments and working to a brief set by the exam board
  • Listening & Appraising (Exam – 40%) – A range of musical styles will be studied in preparation for this externally assessed component including:
    • The Concerto Through Time (Baroque, Classical and Romantic)
    • Rhythms of the World (Samba, Calypso, Bhangra, Indian Classical, Greek, Israeli, Palestinian, African Drumming)
    • Film and Computer Game music
    • Conventions of Popular Music

Music Technology

Students are taught the following topics in Years 9 to 11:

  • Coursework Portfolio (50% – Internally-assessed coursework)
    • Unit 1: Using a digital audio workstation (DAW) – How to use a DAW creatively using audio, MIDI, hardware and editing tools
    • Unit 2: Creating music – Analyse stylistic elements of music and develop a piece of music based on a specific popular style
    • Unit 3: Studio recording – How to plan for, undertake and mix a recording session in the studio
    • Unit 4: Sound creation – Explore sound creation using synthesis and Foley techniques, used for film and computer game soundtracks
  • Synoptic Assessment (50% – Externally-assessed exams)
    • Knowledge exam (15%) – Tests subject-specific language and knowledge acquired during creating coursework portfolio
    • Practical exam (35%) – Tests practical skills acquired during creating coursework portfolio

Key Stage 5

KS5 Prospectus KS5 Syllabus
A-Level Overview

Students are taught the following topics in Year 12 and 13:

  • Unit 1: Practical Music Theory and Harmony (25% – Internally-assessed coursework)
  • Unit 2: Professional Practice in the Music Industry (25% – Externally-assessed coursework)
  • Unit 3: Ensemble Music (35% – Externally-assessed coursework)
  • Optional Unit: Composing Music / Music Performance Session Styles / Solo Performance / Improvising Music (15% – Internally-assessed coursework)

Extra and Co-Curricular Experiences


  • Funk Band
  • Samba Band
  • Chamber Orchestra
  • Worship Band
  • Junior and Senior Choirs

Performance/Technical Support Opportunities:

  • The Big Gig
  • WaddFest
  • Whole School Musical
  • Christmas Carol Service
  • Assemblies
  • Local festivals

Instrumental/Vocal Tuition

Lessons are available in school from XYZ Music Academy and Bucks Music Trust on a comprehensive range of instruments.

Additional Curriculum Opportunities for our High Prior Attainers

  • Songwriting Competition – opportunity for the best songs to be produced in the recording studio for the annual Waddesdon album
  • KS3 Young Musician of the Year Competition

Waddesdon Church of England School’s Assessment and Feedback Policy. At Waddesdon our aim is for assessment to be:

  • Meaningful
  • Motivational
  • Manageable

We are currently consulting on proposed changes to our admissions arrangements.