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» The Music Department Team
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About Us

In Music, our philosophy is clear.  We learn by "listening, watching and ...... DOING!" Music is a universal language, and at The Aylesbury Vale Academy we truly understand it. As an art form old as humankind, music represents a common bond between all cultures. It allows us to communicate beyond our national boundaries, through age ranges and across the divide of history. For these reasons the The Aylesbury Vale Academy Music department is deeply committed to inspiring young people musically. Learning music improves teamwork, communication and builds self-esteem. It enables young minds to explore their own emotions and interpret those of others, which in turn fosters more sophisticated, empathetic minds - minds which are expanded and often more capable as a result of learning an instrument.

The Music Department has established itself as an integral part of the Performing Arts team.   We offer a broad and diverse curriculum throughout KS3, GCSE, with extended learning outside school hours.  Lessons are very much practical based and offer many opportunities for students to access a variety of different instruments from different cultures. Students develop their musical appreciation, listening, performance, improvisation and composition skills throughout KS3, including regular singing and rhythm based activities. Students at the Aylesbury Vale Academy also now have use of two industry standard Apple Macintosh suites for classroom teaching, opening up the world of music technology. There are also four practice rooms, a tutorial room and a recording studio which students can access.

The Music Department Team

Curriculum Leader: Mr C. Hallam 

"I believe playing and performing music is one of the best experiences in Life. This is why I have such a passion for it and teach others to enjoy it as much as I do."

Teacher of Music: Miss J Kissick 

"After studying Music at Queen's University, Belfast, with a focus on violin and viola performance, I performed professionally in a string quartet before moving to England to pursue a career in teaching. Music has been a passion from a young age and I love passing this enjoyment of music on to young people.  Highlights of my time at AVA have been seeing the enjoyment pupils get from performing and developing their confidence in the process. 

Outside school, I enjoy horse riding and supporting Ulster Rugby!"

Teacher of Music: Mrs Z Morley 

"Starting on the recorder, much to the annoyance of my brother, I ventured onto basic chords on the guitar, then the Double bass and finally the alto saxophone. I loved playing throughout my school life and was part of music clubs every night after school. This took me onto University in Huddersfield where I studied a performing course. I then went on to play in a classical orchestra for a year before deciding to do a PGCE course and become a teacher.

I enjoy sharing my love of music and the enjoyment it brings to us all."


Key Stage 3

Students in KS3 are part of a creative arts carousel where they spend time in Art, Drama, and music on a rotation format. Essentially students have 2 lessons per week in each subject on a half termly rota.

Year 7

In Year 7 topics that students study include: The Elements of Music (Pitch, Tempo, Dynamics, Rhythm, Texture, and Timbre), Rhythm and Notation, World music-(African, Calypso, and Reggae). Throughout the different units students study the key features of each style. Students will also develop their keyboard skills and have opportunities to perform independently and in ensembles. Singing is regularly encouraged in lesson time. Students are also introduced to Garageband which enables students to develop their compositional skills and understand the use of arranging music and using loops. Musical appreciation of different types of music is very much encouraged.

Year 8

In Year 8 topics that students study include: Film music Jazz, Blues and Swing, Popular song and Ground Bass. Students continue to develop their performance, listening, and compositional skills throughout all units. Improvisation is encouraged as much as possible throughout the Jazz and Blues unit. This allows student to explore and create within the context of the style and genre. The use of the Blues scale, Walking bass and chords is explored in more detail. Again solo and Ensemble skills are very much encouraged. Students have access to different instruments within the department including guitars, drums, keyboards, glockenspiels and an array of percussion instruments. The use of sequencing software is also explored further especially within the Ground bass unit where students essentially make their own dance music track based on Pachelbel’s Canon.

Keyboards are used extensively throughout year 7 and 8 as they allow for a better overall musical understanding and application of skills and techniques. Of course any student who is learning an instrument will always be encouraged to bring their instrument to classroom based lessons.

Students in Year 7 and 8 are assessed twice in a half term with clear success criteria and areas they need to improve on. The assessment cards give a clear way to track student’s progress over time. 

Key Stage 4 Curriculum

GCSE Music - OCR Specification

GCSE music provides a contemporary, accessible and creative education in Music with an integrated approach to the three main elements – performing, composing and appraising.

GCSE music enables learners to explore performance and composition with a focus on their own instrument and offer opportunity to explore new instrumental skills. Through the various genres, styles and eras contained in our Areas of Study they will explore musical context, musical language, and performance and composition skills.

Course outline:

Areas of Study 1 - My Music-Students focus on their chosen instrument and develop performance and composition skills. They are required to perform one solo and one ensemble piece of their choice. Students can sing for their performance work. There is considerable time to developing instrumental skills in class, although students would be expected to follow a regular practice regime out of class time. It is preferable for students to have an instrumental teacher to guide them on a one to one basis although not essential if the student shows musical competence, skill and enthusiasm for the subject.

Area of Study 2 - The Concerto through Time- Students look at the development of the concerto from 1650-1910. The focus will be on instruments, the development of the orchestra, and the relationship between the soloist and the orchestra. Baroque, Classical and Romantic concertos are all explored in detail.

Area of Study 3 - Rhythms of the world. Students study the traditional rhythmic roots from four geographical regions of the world. India and Punjab/Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East/Africa/Central and South America. Within these regions students study African, Samba, Bhangra, Indian Classical, Greek, Palestinian, Israeli and Calypso music. Students will become familiar with the key features both rhythmically and melodically. Students will get to explore each genre by listening and performing activities

Area of Study 4 - Film Music- Students study a range of music 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 is also part of the learning experience. Students look at the creation of a soundtrack and the use of technology within this unit. Film music questions come up regularly in the listening exam and application and knowledge of musical elements is key for success here

Area of Study 5 – Conventions of Pop music- Students study a range of pop music from the 1950’s to the present day. This includes- Rock N Roll from the 1950’s and 60’s, Rock Anthems from the 70’s and 80’s, Pop Ballades, and Solo artists from the 1990’s to the present day. The styles of music include rock, rap and dance music.

Throughout the course students develop their performance and composition skills and are able to access new state of the art I-Macs where they can develop their music sequencing and ICT skills.

Details of assessment:

1 Solo and 1 ensemble performance- 30% internally assessed.

2 composition tasks- 30% internally assessed.

Listening exam- 40% externally assessed.

Home Learning

Students will be provided with a series of revision and home learning tasks that will be published on Show My Homework. These will be based around the listening topics from the Areas of Study covered. Audio files will also be provided and further listening suggestions will be given to the students to read and listen around different topics. A key part of home learning is also based on the expectation students will be developing skills on their chosen instrument in both a performance and compositional capacity.

BTEC Music (Technology)

KS4 Music BTEC Tech Award in Music Practice

What does the qualification cover?

This qualification, which is 120 GLH, is the same size and level as a GCSE. It is ideal for you if you are a pre-16 student working at level 1/level 2 and would like to learn about the different types of music practice – from composition and performance, to song writing – and the various musical styles and techniques that are required to create them. You will also develop important practical skills that are vital in the modern music industry, from rehearsing to experimenting with technology, equipment and instruments. The qualification is also for you if you would like to understand more about the music industry. This qualification will offer you the opportunity to build the skills and knowledge needed to progress to further learning, and will also give you an engaging and stimulating introduction to the world of music practice.

The course is split into 3 components

Component 1:  Exploring Music Products and styles

In this component, you will develop your understanding of different types of music product and the techniques used to create them. You will explore how musical elements, technology and other resources are used in the performance, creation and production of music. You will also practically explore the key features of different genres of music and music theory and apply your knowledge and understanding to developing your own creative work.

Genres studied are selected from the following:

  • 60s to 70s, e.g. British invasion, folk revival, psychedelic, heavy metal, soul, Motown, disco, punk, reggae.
  • 80s to 90s, e.g. synth pop, post punk, thrash metal, stadium rock, hard core, grunge, Britpop, hip hop, rave, techno, house, DnB  
  • 00s to present day, e.g. nu metal, pop punk, EDM, dubstep, K-pop, reggae, grime, trap.
  • World music and fusion.

Music for media: film, TV or computer games, e.g. soundscapes, ambient music, e.g. Foley, diagetic, non-diagetic, motifs and leitmotifs, thematic development.

Western classical styles of music, e.g. romantic, orchestral, leitmotif, minimalism

Jazz and blues, e.g. bebop, big band.

Component 2: Musical Skills development

In this component, students participate in workshops and classes where they will develop technical, practical, personal and professional skills and specialise in at least two of the following areas: music performance, creating original music, music production. Throughout your development, you will review your progress and consider how to make improvements. You will learn how musicians share their work and collaborate with others and will develop your own skills as a musician in how to use blogs, YouTube™, Soundcloud™ and other platforms to share your work and skills development with others.

Component 3:  Responding to Commercial Music Brief

This component will allow you to work to your strengths and interests and apply the skills that you have learned throughout your course in a practical way. You will focus on a particular area of the music industry that excites and appeals to you and respond to a commercial music brief as a composer, performer or producer.

Extra-Curricular Activities

Peripatetic Music Lessons

At the Aylesbury Vale Academy we have experienced peripatetic staff who are dedicated to give a high standard of music teaching. Students are able to learn a variety of different instruments including, keyboard/piano/Guitar (all types) drums/violin/singing/flute, clarinet, and saxophone.

Practise Sessions

Students are able to access the practise rooms at set times during the week whether during lunch and break times or after school.

There are lots of possibilities for students to develop their instrumental and vocal skills through Orchestra, Choir, and Rock group, which are on a weekly basis.


The music department with its three suites of Apple Macs allows students to develop their music technology and composition skills using Garageband Software. This is becoming very popular. We have a recording studio which students can access and where the GCSE performances are recorded. The recording studio has use of Logic Software as one of the Mac suites. We have 60 midi keyboards and 50 regular keyboards although they also have MIDI compatibility. The studio has high quality monitors and Audio Interfaces. There are also an array of different microphones within the department

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