Welcome to the Music Department


Curriculum Intent – the aims of the Music Education at Dormston:

For all pupils to have the opportunity to perform, listen and evaluate a wide, diverse range of music and to be taught how to compose music in a variety of styles. They will able to identify their areas of strength and the skills that they need to develop. The curriculum allows pupils to develop a clear understanding of the world’s rich musical culture and history. Alongside this, it offers them the chance to experience achievement, independence, self-confidence, resilience, self-reflection, in addition to social interaction and an awareness of others.

The Department:

At Dormston, pupils are fortunate to have two specialist rooms to be taught in. The teaching staff swap rooms every half term so pupils can explore the three main areas of performing, composing and listening by using a wide range of resources.

The Music Studio is fitted out with electronic keyboards, digital pianos, guitars, ukuleles, and a range of percussion including Samba instruments and African djembes.

The Music Technology Suite is equipped with fast PCs running FL Studio, Cubase, Audacity and Sibelius software. Every workstation has an external soundcard allowing for multitrack recording of instruments and vocals.

There are two practise rooms which are used by small groups during lessons and by Dudley Performing Arts (DPA) for individual instrumental lessons. One room has a full-sized acoustic drum kit and the other has keyboards and guitars.

Instrumental lessons are offered by DPA on all instruments, and they also provide an Orchestra and Choir as extracurricular clubs.

Pupils are also able to use the equipment and rooms after school on certain nights which allows them to practise instruments, continue with class work, receive one to one support with GCSE controlled assessments and to form bands.

The department consists of Mrs Beer and Mr Richardson. Below is some information about their musical journey.

Mrs Beer: “In Year 4 I started playing the Clarinet and that’s where my passion for Music really began. Shortly after this, I was lucky enough to be able to have Piano lessons too and then continued my study of Music into Secondary School where I took GCSE and then A Level Music. Whilst in Secondary school I also took part in a wide range of musical extra-curricular activities, which included playing lead roles in the School Production and performing in Choirs and Orchestras both in school and at County level. These experiences taught me how important Music making with others is in terms of developing personal skills that extend beyond just the subject of Music.  I went on to study Music at Cardiff University graduating with First Class Honours. I then went on to study my PGCE at Birmingham City University before starting teaching Music at Dormston where I have taught ever since! As a Mum of two young boys, most of my time outside of school is spent with my family. I do however, play Clarinet with Birmingham Symphonic Winds, who regularly perform in the CBSO centre and with whom I have toured abroad to perform in both Hong Kong and Latvia.” 

Mr Richardson: “I began my musical journey playing the trumpet aged 9. After having braces fitted in my teenage years, I decided to sell my trumpet, buy a keyboard and teach myself how to play. At this time, I also got interested in music production and sequencing music. I did return to the trumpet later though, and worked through the grades. My secondary school offered GCSE and an A Level in Music Technology which I then continued to study at the Birmingham Conservatoire. During my 3 years there, I learned guitar and ukulele whilst playing the keyboard in different bands which were able to record and produce ourselves. Since joining Dormston I have played in many school production bands and even dusted off my trumpet to play the last post for Remembrance Day. I have been part of other bands outside of school which were all on the keyboard. A few years ago, I decided to learn to play the piano properly and undertook classical lessons which have been challenging but also great fun. As a dad of two young boys my free time is limited but I do still enjoy playing different instruments and making my own music. I am a big Jazz fan but also partial to Drum & Bass.”



The Key Stage 3 curriculum is closely linked to the requirements for GCSE. Pupils study a wide range of music from all over the world and from different periods of time. This equips them with a solid musical grounding that is then expanded upon during Key Stage 4. Below is a breakdown of the units of worked followed and how they link between what has been learned previously and what they will study in the future.

Year 7 Unit

Links to previous units

Unit content

Links to future units

Rhythm & Beat

Music Studio

Primary school Music at Key Stage 2

Baseline listening assessment, rhythms, rests, note names, djembe skills, dynamics, texture, tempo, ostinato

African Drumming Music

Keyboard Skills

Music Studio

Primary school Music at Key Stage 2

Fixed notes, sharps/flats, mnemonics, chords, elements

Riff Composition

Riff Composition

Music Studio

Keyboard Skills

Key, scales, chords, notation, harmony, development, Riff & Ostinato, chords recognition

Theme & Variations

Introduction To Music Technology

Music Technology Suite

Primary school Music at Key Stage 2

Software, sounds, riff, rhythms, structure, scales, Musical elements & instrument families

Mood Music

Mood Music

Music Technology Suite

Introduction to Music Technology

Scales, tonality, chords, developing ideas, common devices. Elements for effect

Descriptive Music

Arranging Music

Music Technology Suite

Keyboard Skills, Introduction to Music Technology

Notation, mnemonics, rhythms & rests, registers,

Minimalism, World Music, Theme & Variations, Blues Music

Year 8 Unit

Links to previous units

Unit content

Links to future units

Theme & Variations


Music Studio

Riff Composition, Keyboard Skills

Use of elements to change riffs, developing, performing, notation, elements, periods of Music, describing rhythm,

Composing a song, 4 chords, classical Music, Minimalism

African Drumming


Music Studio

Rhythm & Beat

Rhythms, polyrhythms, ensemble, pitched/unpitched, balancing, listening GCSE questions, features

Composing a song, 4 chords,

Blues Music


Music Studio

Keyboard Skills, African Drumming, Theme & Variations, Minimalism, World Music

Improvising, chord sequences, bass lines, structure, elements, history, features of the style, time sig, scales,

Pop performance, 4 chords,



Music Studio



Theme & Variations

change riffs, developing, scales, rhythms, editing, recording, listening features, elements,


World Music


Music Studio

African Drumming,

Syncopation, chords, riffs, melodies, polyrhythms, listening GCSE questions, features

Arranging Latin Music TBC

Descriptive Music



Minimalism, Mood Music

Film, game and short story, elements, descriptive questions, listening GCSE questions, features

Classical, Pop songs

Year 9 Unit

Links to previous units

Unit content

Links to future units

4 Chords


Music Studio

Blues Music, Pop Performance, Keyboard,

Chords, melodies, performance, expression, notation, structure, harmony, listening melody shapes, tonality, describing rhythm, Italian terms

GCSE performances and compositions

Latin Arrangement


Music Studio

World Music, African Drumming, Blues, Pop

Rhythm, notation, features of styles,

listening GCSE questions, features

GCSE listening exam

Pop Performance


Music Studio

Blues, Pop Performance, Keyboard, 4 chords

Chords, melodies, performance, expression, notation, structure, harmony, clefs,

Solo and ensemble performance

Composing a song using Technology


Music Technology Suite

Blues Music, 4 Chords,

Chords, riffs, rhythms, structure, elements, listening GCSE examples, professional examples using software

GCSE compositions

Classical Music


Music Technology Suite

Theme & Variations

features of styles, notation, 3 periods, score question, listening GCSE questions, features

Year 11 Listening Exam



Music Technology Suite

Composing a song using Technology, pop,

Scores, elements, editing

GCSE compositions and performances




Pupils opting to take music at GCSE follow the OCR musical syllabus. There are 5 Areas of Study as below:

Area of Study 1: My Music – Pupils study the performance of an instrument and music theory.

 Area of Study 2: The Concerto Through Time – Pupils study The Concerto and its development from 1650 to 1910 through:

  • the Baroque Solo Concerto
  • the Baroque Concerto Grosso
  • the Classical Concerto
  • the Romantic Concerto.

 Area of Study 3: Rhythms of the World – Pupils study the traditional rhythmic roots from four geographical regions of the world:

  • India and Punjab – Indian Classical Music and traditional Punjabi Bhangra
  • Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East – Traditional Eastern Mediterranean and Arabic folk rhythms, with particular focus on traditional Greek, Palestinian and Israeli music
  • Africa – Traditional African drumming
  • Central and South America – Traditional Calypso and Samba.


Area of Study 4: Film Music: – Pupils study a range of music used for films including:

  • music that has been composed specifically for a film
  • music from the Western Classical tradition that has been used within a film
  • music that has been composed as a soundtrack for a video game.


Area of Study 5: Conventions of Pop – Pupils study a range of popular music from the 1950s to the present day, focussing on:

  • Rock ‘n’ Roll of the 1950s and 1960s
  • Rock Anthems of the 1970s and 1980s
  • Pop Ballads of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s
  • Solo Artists from 1990 to the present day.


The two-year course outline:

During Year 10 pupils work on a Solo Performance which is worth 15% of the overall grade. Pupils can choose any piece of music and perform this on their chosen instrument and can use a backing track or piano accompaniment. They are marked on how fluently they perform, the difficulty of the piece and how expressive the performance is. To support this, the school provide a weekly instrumental lesson from DPA. They also compose a piece of music worth 15% in any style which can be created using ICT, instruments or a combination of both. This is worked on alongside study of the Areas of Study.

In Year 11 pupils are given a set of stimuli from the exam board which include rhythmic phrases, note patterns, chord sequences, set of lyrics, a short story and a picture. They use this to compose a piece of music in a style from one of the Areas of Study. This is worth 15% of the overall grade. They also work on an ensemble performance, again worth 15%, where they to perform with at least one other live performer. This is marked in a similar way to the solo performance with some marks awarded for how well the performers interact.

At the end of Year 11 pupils sit a listening exam up to 90 minutes long which is worth 40% of the overall grade. This tests pupils on their knowledge of the Areas of Study, music theory and notation. The most challenging questions are a longer essay question where pupils describe what they can hear using in full sentences using musical vocabulary, to complete a gap in a musical score where only the rhythm is given and to label up another score, identifying features such as the time signature and the expressive markings.

How we asses

In key stage 3 all pupils are provided with an assessment sheet split into the three main areas of composing, performing and listening. This shows all the necessary skills needed to pass the music GCSE which have been ranked from working level 1 to grade 9. When pupils demonstrate they have shown a particular skill it is highlighted green and dated. Targets are highlighted orange. This allows pupils to clearly see what they have done previously and what they need to do next in order to make progress. The attainment is calculated in the same way as for GCSE. 30% each for composing and performing and 40% for listening. This is completed every term and recorded on the assessment sheet. Target grades are also present for each year of the key stage so pupils are always aware of where they, where they are aiming to be and how they can achieve this.

Subject specific websites to support independent learning (non-required work) and revision

BBC Bitesize:

Oak Academy:

Musical Futures:

Listen to alternative radios stations to explore music from different cultures and time periods such as:

  • Classical FM
  • Jazz FM
  • BBC Radio 3
  • Planet Rock
  • BBC Radio 6

Free online software:

Beat boxing:

Time travelling radio:

Music creator:

Drum pattern maker:

Music launchpad:

Virtual Drum kit:

Virtual piano:


Trips & Visits 

Visit a live music performance, festival or music at a suitable venue in the West Midlands such as:

Knowledge Organisers