Our School App Stay connected on the go...

Select Language

Subject Pages


Welcome to Music! Highworth has a legacy as a Music Specialist School, which amongst other things means that there are plenty of musical opportunities and resources for our students. Our aim is to encourage students to develop a lifelong passion for, skills in, and appreciation of those patterns of sound we call Music. We aim to train performers, composers, audiences, technicians and critics.

As well as learning in class, students can be involved in a rich and huge variety of musical activities run in the extended curriculum and can learn an instrument with one of our many visiting teachers. We achieve high standards in our musical activities and at the same time we want as many students as possible to be involved in this life-enhancing world.

Follow us on Twitter @highworthmusic!


Head of Department

Mr M Cheesman, Director of Music Specialism


Ms S Batchelor

Mrs G Booker


Fay Carpenter

Daisy Halligan


Siena Barr

Anna Fitch

Esther Harper

Ruth Jesuthas

Anna Milnes

Charlotte Rolfe

Sarah Watts

Key Stage 3


Music is taught to all students in their class groups. Lessons focus on the three strands:

  • Performing
  • Composing
  • Focused Listening

Students sing and play pitched percussion instruments, guitar, keyboard and their own specialisms; they compose using a variety of techniques drawn from musical examples of classical, popular experimental and world music; they learn notations and elements of analysis, developing their critical ear. Much of the class work at this level is done in small groups and the Department has first-rate resources.

Year 7 have 2 hours of Music per fortnight. Topics covered are

  • Band Skills
  • The Blues
  • Programme Music
  • Indonesian Gamelan (including a chance to play on a gamelan-in-residence)
  • Modern Art Music (including Impressionism)
  • Band Skills Revisited

Year 7 have an additional 2 hours per fortnight following an ‘Enrichment’ programme in the Arts, of which Music is a large part. This leads to evening performances at the end of terms 2 and 6.

Year 8 have 3 hours of Music per fortnight. We begin the first term with the topic of Magical Music (with cross-curricular links to other Arts). In terms 2 to 6 students follow the Musical Futures scheme, forming their own bands and performing and composing contemporary music. The Musical Futures programme aims to develop the skills students will need to access music in their future, whether or not they choose to pursue it as a school subject in Year 9.

Assessment, Marking and Feedback 

In Years 7 and 8, all students have a music log-book which records feedback and targets, including a record of verbal, peer and self-assessment. Classwork, both the final products and the work-in-progress, is given regular feedback which students can record in their books.

At the end of each termly unit students assess themselves, with teacher guidance, in different strands as ‘working towards’, ‘meeting’ or exceeding’ the standard expected (based on them being ‘on track’ for a grade 5/6 or higher at GCSE Music). They reflect on their work and set targets. Teachers also record judgements and highlight skills gained in the logbooks (for Year 7 at least every other project, for Year 8 every project). Teachers will moderate assessments of certain units at department meetings. The school Reward System will also be applied as appropriate.

For Interim Reviews (IRs) a teacher’s professional judgement will be made over all musical skills to determine whether a student is securely ‘on track’ to meet the standard expected for GCSE (M1/M2), is less secure (M3), is still working towards the expected standard (W) or is exceeding the expected standard (E) and should be aiming for the highest grades.

Assessment grids

Look at how students and teachers assess work here:

Please click here for Year 7 assessment grids

Please click here for Year 8 assessment grids

Key Stage 4


GCSE Music continues the three strands:

  • Performing
  • Composing
  • Listening and Appraising


Students continue to sing and/or play an instrument and are involved in many performances. For the final assessments in Year 11, students record one solo piece and one group piece.


Students learn techniques of composing and are encouraged in their creativity. They produce two compositions for assessment, one to a given brief and one free. Each piece is notated, usually using Sibelius software, and is recorded.

Listening and Appraising

There are eight musical set works to study: two each of vocal, instrumental, stage-and-screen and fusion music. The pieces are drawn from classical, popular and world styles. Students become aurally familiar with the pieces and learn about theoretical and contextual aspects. They are encouraged to listen to a variety of music and the final exam includes comparisons of set works with unfamiliar music.

Please click here for our 3-year GCSE Music course overview

Assessment, Marking and Feedback 

At Key Stage 4, students are assessed against GCSE levels of attainment throughout the course. Students are made aware of the exam board Assessment Objectives and marking schemes for each unit, copies of which they keep in their folders.

PERFORMING: Students take part in two formal performance recording sessions in each of Years 9, 10 and 11. After each, they listen back to their recording and use the GCSE mark scheme to assess the performance, allowing them to establish a full understanding of the criteria. This is second-marked by the teacher so that students know their current performance grade and how to improve their work. Final recordings and assessments are made towards the end of the course.

Please click here for the Edexcel GCSE Performing Mark Scheme

COMPOSING: Initial composition work, which forms preparation for coursework pieces, is given regular verbal feedback. As students complete their coursework compositions they are also given regular verbal feedback with specific reference to the mark scheme. When the piece is nearing completion, students are given a mark sheet showing what mark the piece is likely to achieve and how to improve their work. The Year 10 composition is free; the Year 11 composition is to a set brief provided by Edexcel.

Please click here for the Edexcel GCSE Composing Mark Scheme

LISTENING AND APPRAISING: While students build up their knowledge of music theory and the set works for GCSE they are given regular class tests and exercises to establish their understanding and to allow the teacher to pick up misunderstandings. Students then complete practice exam questions in class and have two major opportunities to simulate the final exam in the Year 10 exam and the Year 11 PPE. These help them identify their weak areas and, using grade boundaries, students can calculate their current ‘working-at’ grade.

The school Reward System is also applied as appropriate.


Please click here for the Edexcel GCSE Music (grades 9-1) Quick Guide

Please click here for the Edexcel GCSE Music (grades 9-1) Full specification

A Level


At A Level, the same three strands are studied in more depth:


Students work at their own instrument or voice to a high standard of performance. At the end of the course they will perform a recital of eight minutes of music, solo and/or in ensemble.


Students will create a composition to a given brief or of their own choosing. The piece will be notated and recorded. In addition, they will complete a techniques paper, usually involving the harmonisation of chorale melodies in the style of Bach.

Listening and Appraising

At A Level there are eighteen set works to study: three each of instrumental, vocal, film, fusion, pop/jazz and ‘new directions’ music. There is a wide variety of styles and emphasis is on detailed analysis and comparison with wider listening. The exam assesses aural, analytical and appraisal skills, in short and longer essay-type answers.

Please click here for our 2-year Music A Level course overview

Assessment, Marking and Feedback 

At Key Stage 5, students are assessed against A Level mark schemes during each unit of study and in any terminal pieces by their teacher. Students are made aware of the exam board Assessment Objectives and marking schemes for each unit, copies of which they keep in their folders.

PERFORMING: Class performances are given regular verbal feedback with specific reference to the mark scheme. For these formative assessments, students are told their mark by the teacher along with what they can do to improve for their final performance. Descriptors for the top mark bands are given to students to keep in their folders. Edexcel’s Performing mark-scheme can be found in the specification.

COMPOSITION: Students’ first composition in Year 12 is marked against the mark scheme to allow students to know their grade and how to improve their work. Descriptors for the top mark bands are given to students to keep in their folders. As students complete their coursework pieces, they are given verbal feedback with specific reference to the mark scheme on how to improve their piece. For the Techniques (Bach chorale) paper, students complete practice exercises and are given specific feedback in how to improve their work. Edexcel’s Composing mark-scheme can be found in the specification.

LISTENING AND ANALYSIS: As students study the set works they are set practice essay questions which are marked to the exam mark scheme. Students also regularly perform self-assessment and peer-assessment of their essays to allow for a deeper understanding of the mark scheme and how to improve their work. Students regularly complete listening exercises in class which they mark themselves in order to help identify their strengths and weaknesses. As students begin to have a sufficient overview they complete practice listening papers from which they can calculate the grade they are working at and this allows the teacher to identify students’ weak areas.

The school Reward System is also applied as appropriate.


Please click here for the Edexcel A Level Music specification

Exam Support



  • Keep stretching yourself by learning new music on your instrument or voice.
  • Practise performing to family or friends to simulate the (perhaps) more stressful experience of recording for the exam.
  • Make sure you put expression into your performance!


  • If you are having trouble creating ideas, borrow an idea from a piece you like and change it to make it your own. Recycle a chord sequence or melodic idea and make your own modifications.
  • Check the structure of your piece when you are nearly finished. Adding an introduction and coda can make the piece more interesting.
  • Don’t forget to add appropriate expression marks to your score.

Listening and Appraising

  • Listen to your set works frequently to become familiar with them, sometimes with and sometimes without the score.

Use the software ‘Auralia’ in school to practise aural questions.

Past papers

GCSE: No past papers as yet (first exam in 2018) but please click here for Edexcel GCSE Music sample assessment material and please click here for other assessment material

A Level: No past papers as yet (first exam in 2018) but please click here for Edexcel A Level Music sample assessment material

Useful external links

Music Theory help (free content)

BBC GCSE Bitesize (good for Music GCSE help and revision)



Potential careers

Studying Music can lead to exciting careers in:

  • Performance (session musician, orchestral musician, singer, soloist, pop band member, show band member, etc.)
  • Composition (for film, games, advertising, songwriting, etc.)
  • Conducting or Musical Directing
  • Sound Engineering
  • Club DJ work
  • Music Production
  • Recording Industry
  • Music Therapy
  • Stage Management
  • Arts Management
  • Community Arts Leadership
  • Arts Administration
  • Instrumental Teaching
  • Music Journalism
  • Secondary School Music Teaching
  • Primary Teaching
  • Special School Teaching

People who study music need to be organised, driven, good at working independently, strong collaborative workers and need to be creative, analytical, imaginative and reflective. For these reasons, musicians are in demand in many work sectors including all aspects of business, banking and IT along with many others, so do not think that the study of Music will limit you in the future - it may well have the opposite effect and make you stand out from other applicants!  


Many of our students have gone on to study Music at degree level in universities and conservatoires. Musicians from Highworth are working in all sorts of fields, including as performers in the classical, jazz and popular worlds.



Instrumental lessons 

Individual Lessons

Tuition can be given on any instrument and every year we succeed in encouraging an appreciable number of students to begin learning.  Students may learn individually with a teacher from our team of visiting instrumental experts. Fees are varied and lesson times are on rota – for more information about fees, conditions and availability contact our Music Administrator, Mrs Cassé at

Currently we have around twenty visiting teachers teaching nearly 200 students piano, voice, guitar, violin, viola, cello, double bass, flute, clarinet, saxophone, various brass instruments and drums.

Group lesson project

After a successful initial year 2016-17, we are repeating this project for 2017-18. We offer to Year 7, free of charge, small-group tuition at lunchtime on violin, flute, clarinet or cornet. For more information please contact Mrs Cassé.

Ensembles, clubs and activities

There is a rich and varied programme of ‘extended curriculum’ activities – something for everyone – providing opportunities for students, whatever their ability, to gain valuable experience in ensemble work and to perform in school and beyond.

Folk Band - regularly play at events in and out of school; they perform to a high standard and have been selected to perform, for the past six years running, at the National Festival of Music for Youth in Birmingham.

Senior Orchestra - meets during a lunchtime and performs regularly in concerts and musicals, recently collaborating with Kent’s Revelation Strings.

Swing Band - a lively ensemble of woodwind, brass and rhythm section, led by our clarinet and saxophone teacher Mr Dave Brazier.

String Ensemble - for violin, viola, cello and bass players

Guitar Ensemble  - for all guitar and ukulele players

Rock/pop bands, duos and soloists have forums in our regular Band Stand evening gigs (twice a year)

Other small instrumental groups – meet seasonally, including guitar quartet, clarinet ensemble, flute choir, etc

789 Choir - open to singers in the first 3 years of the school, performs in school concerts, in the community (including carol singing in County Square) and has performed at King’s Place, London.

Chamber Choir - takes its members, by audition, from years 10-13 and performs a varied repertoire, performing in school and at various local venues and recently on a trip to Trafalgar Square, London.

Soul Choir is open to all singers in years 10-13 and sings in Soul, Gospel and other popular styles.

Full Choir - At certain points in the year, particularly for the Carol Service in Ashford Parish Church, we combine our choirs to form a very large body of singers!

Summer Show (annual, June/July, Key Stage 3) 2017 ‘Bugsy Malone’, 2016 ‘Matilda’, 2015 ‘Joseph’, 2014 ‘The Wizard of Oz’, 2013 ‘Grease’.

School Musical (biennial, Autumn, Key Stages 4 and 5): 2015 ‘The Sound of Music’, 2013 ‘Sweet Charity’, 2011 ‘Oklahoma’.

During lunchtime, we also offer preparation for theory exams and aural training. Students are entered for ‘ABRSM’ and ‘Trinity/Guildhall’ exams; these are usually held at school 3 times a year.

Links with other organisations allow for extra workshops which enrich learning and allow able students to be stretched (e.g. Aurora Orchestra projects, Voces8 vocal projects, Kidenza Orchestra performances in school, Indonesian gamelan in residence, primary school collaborations including ‘playday’ and ‘singing day’).

Trips and visits

We often take trips to live musical events. Recent trips include Year 10 and Year 12 seeing the musical Wicked in London (March 2017) and Year 9 watching An American in Paris in London (June 2017). 


Recent highlights

See our recent highlights and look out for out our next events by following us the Highworth Music Department on Twitter

  • Bugsy Malone July 2017 – 160 Year 7 students performed in our summer show. There were gangsters, great music and plenty of splurge!
  • Folk Band performance in Birmingham July 2017 – Highworth Folk Band ‘High Spirits’ performed for the sixth year running in the National Festival of Music for Youth in Birmingham.
  • Kidenza Orchestra at Highworth July 2017 – The whole of Year 7 and Year 8 saw and heard a performance by the Kidenza Orchestra of music from around the world. Some of our own orchestral players joined the professionals for one piece.
  • HiJAC June 2017 – Highworth’s June Alternative Concert, an annual event, was this year indoors because of rain. But spirits were not dampened and there were lively performances from the orchestra, chamber choir, 789 choir, swing band and many other ensembles, soloists and pop bands.
  • ‘An American in Paris’ June 2017 – Our Year 9 Music and Drama students enjoyed a trip to London to see the acclaimed musical ‘An American in Paris’.
  • ‘Wicked’ April 2017 – Year 10 GCSE Music students, together with Year 12 Music A level students, travelled to London to see the musical ‘Wicked’, from which one of their exam set works is taken.
  • Band Stand March 2017 – Our regular evening of popular music from Highworth and beyond this time raised over £600 for Médecins Sans Frontières UK.
  • Primary Playday March 2017 – 200 primary school pupils played their instruments together in our Hall and listened to Highworth’s Orchestra perform.
  • Gamelan in Residence March 2017 – The whole of Year 7 had the opportunity to play a Javanese Gamelan (percussion orchestra) which was in residence in our Perfroming Arts building for a day.
  • Primary Singing Day February 2017 – Over 300 primary school pupils joined us for a singing day hosted by our own 789 Choir.
  • Concert at Revelation Ashford January 2017 – Our Orchestra and Folk Band performed in a concert hosted by Kent-based Revelation Strings at Revelation Ashford. We performed items separately and together as one huge ensemble.
  • Carol Service December 2016 – One of the musical highlights of our year is the Christmas Carol Service in St Mary’s Church, Ashford, combined with Norton Knatchbull School. Our choir this time numbered over 150 students.

Carol Singing out-and-about December 2016 – The 789 Choir sang carols in County Square, Ashford, raising money for Demelza House Hospices. The Senior Chamber Choir travelled to London for a coveted carol-singing spot in Trafalgar Square and similarly raised money for charity.

Page Gallery