We are committed to providing our students with a rich variety of experiences. Our music specialism is part of that commitment. Collective participation in music builds a sense of community and develops skills in self- expression and performance as well as self-discipline and team work. As part of a school which provides a wealth of musical opportunities and experiences, every student learns an instrument and performs as part of an orchestra.
Creating lifelong musicians with a passion for performing, composing and listening to music
Music is for everyone. For many people, their experience of music at school is quite far removed from the music that they personally enjoyed and would choose to listen to. At KSA every student is given the opportunity to be part of music, to internalise it and to understand it in its simplest form. By presenting the building blocks of music to students in this way, we are showing them that all music is valuable and accessible.
The gift of being able to play an instrument opens many doors to our students as musicians. It is a tool through which they learn how to read music, improvise, compose and respond, play as an ensemble or as a soloist.
Performing excellence – rigour and practise, self-discipline – not just string orchestra
Our students are capable of achieving astonishing things. They perform unabridged Shakespeare each year. They are among students making the most progress in any of their subjects across the country. Learning an instrument at KSA is not just about playing a few notes, nor is the String Orchestra just about playing together. Students and staff work hard, with rigour and discipline, to climb the mountain of musical excellence. We teach students that with real practise comes progress. And when we perform we will work tirelessly to ensure that we do so with excellence.
The curriculum from Year 3 onwards, which is centred on the development of meaningful performance opportunities, is also designed to prepare students for Music GCSE. It is currently an optional subject at KS4, but one in which students will enjoy a distinct advantage. From GCSE students can continue to A Level, and then on to a well-respected degree choice where it is offered at most top universities, either as an academic subject, or as a performance degree.
Develop confident and expressive students
We aim to create confident and expressive students, who are not afraid to try out new ideas with other learners; know that they can make mistakes without fear of mockery; and can immerse themselves in the music when performing. We take seriously any action which works against this aim.
Creativity and discipline – a practical approach to music lessons, responsibility for an instrument
The key to musicianship is the ability to work creatively within a strict structure. This is true of both performing and composing music. Music teachers at KSA are constantly developing new experiences for students in lesson time. If we are learning to play a piece of music for a concert, we will approach it from every possible angle, absorbing every learning point from it, and responding to the music creatively. We encourage our musicians to create new music out of old, to debate their opinions on what they hear using appropriate vocabulary, and to interpret the music in their own way. Discipline is key to musical excellent. Students are expected to practise regularly and rigorously, with exciting opportunities being presented to students who show they are making progress as a result of hard work.
Independent musical learners – apply skills to other instruments, figure things out themselves
In Music students learn how to learn. We provide them with the tools and skills that they need in order to work things out for themselves. Rather than show students what each chord on a guitar looks like, we teach them how to read chord charts so they can work them out for themselves. Rather than showing a student the notes to play on a keyboard for a particular melody, we will encourage them to work it out by ear, or provide a starting point for them. We direct and guide students to the resources that they will need in order to reach their goal.
Students learn how to play the keyboard and their string instrument. They also learn how to read music. By combining the practical and reading skills, they are able to teach themselves how to play any other instrument that they can dream of.
Open musical minds through an exciting range of repertoire
We work hard to develop a sense of ‘our’ music between students and staff. Students should not think that just because they are playing in an orchestra they will be playing only classical music. By the same token, we want to educate KSA musicians about the musical landmarks of our time. Every year students should have access to a range of musical styles through repertoire, technical exercises, and creative tasks. They should feel comfortable playing in any style, and should definitely experience the joy of playing some of their own favourite music as part of an orchestra. As teachers we should also take an open-minded approach to the repertoire which we arrange for the Orchestra, and appropriately respond to the student voice.
Music offers incredible leadership development opportunities, a strong example being the roles of section leader in the orchestra. Those that work hard and present themselves as a good role model will be considered for the positions of section leaders. Students are encouraged to practise in their own time, and are welcome to form their own bands or groups in which they can develop their leadership and teamwork skills.
Music presents ample cross-curricular opportunities. We make explicit links to other subjects, and keep up-to-date with topics being covered in order to be able to make reference to them. Students are encouraged to see the connections between all subjects taught at school.