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Music

We have a thriving Key Stage 5 Music department offering Music IB at both Standard & Higher levels.  Class sizes range from 5–10 on average. We have 3 music ICT suites with excellent facilities: powerful computers running Sibelius 7, Cubase 8, Musition & Auralia, as well as a dedicated ICT suite and recording room for 6th Form use only.

Music is a valuable and challenging subject to study, the value of which is recognised by highly academic universities. It develops a range of valuable cross-curricular skills, including in-depth analysis, creativity, dedication, collaboration to name but a few! Music works well in combination with many different subjects — it works well as a creative option amongst Sciences/Maths, but also fits very well with artistic subjects (English / History / languages etc). You can take two arts subjects from Group 6 if you choose ‘Environmental Systems & Societies’.

The course is suited to students who have studied Music GCSE, and achieved a 6 or higher. It is expected that students will be about Grade 4+ in performance at the beginning of the course, and will have some ability to read music. Music technology will be used for composition purposes, primarily using Sibelius and Cubase.

Students who have not taken GCSE music, but have passed Grade 5+ on their instrument, and have also passed, or are currently studying for Grade 5 Music Theory / Musicianship / Jazz grades, will be eligible to take Standard Music as part of their IB diploma, and may also be considered for Higher Music on an individual basis. Please contact the Head of Music to discuss this further.

The standard of work undertaken at both levels is comparable to the A-level but more time will be spent on the subject if studied at Higher Level and a higher standard will be expected of the student, particularly in performance. The music studied will be very varied ~ the bulk will come from the Western Classical tradition, but a range of world music, jazz and popular styles will also form part of the course. You will study two substantial set works; these are

  • J.S. Bach — Brandenburg Concerto, No. 2 in F Major (BWV 1047)
  •  Zoltán Kodály — Dances of Galánta

Higher students study both of these; Standard students just one. These set works change every two years.

Listening Examination Paper 30%

  • Section A: You will answer two essay questions on your set works (Higher), or just one if you are Standard.
  • Section B: You then answer three questions analysing pieces of music given to you on a CD. They will be a range of western art music, jazz/pop and world music. You will have access to a CD player & headphones in the exam!

Musical Links Investigation (both Higher and Standard Levels) 20%

You must explore, analyse and examine two or more significant musical links between two pieces of your choice e.g. melody, harmony, structure, rhythm (20 marks)
This is not presented in the form of an essay, but as a media script, for example: magazine article, radio show script, website screenshots, blog etc.  You should include a Bibliography & Discography and should use both primary and secondary sources.

COURSEWORK (50% for both Standard and Higher)

Standard Level
Students choose to enter one of the following 2 options: (50%)

  • Solo performance (15 minute portfolio recorded over the two years)
  • Group performance (30 minute portfolio of an ensemble, e.g. rock band, barbershop quartet, jazz band etc.) This could also be a school ensemble e.g. orchestra, big band, senior choir.

This is less prescriptive than A-Level; they are looking for polished musical performances, rather than for you to have reached a specific grade. You can perform on any instrument, in any style. It can be recorded in separate sessions throughout the course, and you can re-record as many times as you like.

Higher Level
Solo Performance - A recording of a 20 minute portfolio 25%
See information regarding Standard performance above.

Composition 25%:
Students must submit three pieces of coursework. The following options are available:

  • Free composition (free choice, 3-6 minutes)         
  • Music tech. composing (free choice, 3-6 minutes)            
  • Arranging (3–6 mins)
  • Improvising (3-6 mins)
  • Stylistic techniques (16 bars 2 exercises in different styles, choosing from Bach Chorale, Baroque counterpoint, Classical string quartet, Romantic song accompaniment, 12-tone serialism)