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The purpose of the music curriculum is to prepare young people for potential work in the music industry and regardless of their final career choices post mastery-stage, the impact of the music curriculum will allow them to enter into their adult lives with greatly enhanced personal skill sets and the unique confidence that out-of-comfort-zone encounters with music can bring.

Music is arguably the greatest achievement of humankind, as exemplified by Einstein (who was a keen musician) when he said: “I know that most joy in my life has come to me from my violin.”


Music expresses our noblest and highest thoughts and helps us to see ourselves as we truly are, from our depths and doubts to our ambitions and dreams. It is the backdrop of our lives, a unique language of pure emotion, without which our existence would be unthinkably dry and dour. 

Jeremy C Dawson, Lead Practitioner and CL in Music

When humans celebrate, mourn, dance, cry, love or take leave of one another, music is a well of joy, comfort, solace, and hope.

There is a great deal of documented research that proves the benefits of music for the human mind, for example:

Extract from Daily Telegraph [R. Alleyne, Science Correspondent, 2009]

Lutz Jäncke, a psychologist at the University of Zurich, said:

" Learning to play a musical instrument has definite benefits and can increase IQ by seven points, in both children and adults. "The parts of the brain that control hearing, memory, and the part that controls the hands among others, all become more active. Essentially the architecture of the brain changes. "For children especially we found that learning to play the piano for instance teaches them to be more self-disciplined, more attentive and better at planning. All of these things are very important for academic performance, so can therefore make a child brighter. "Of course music isn't the only answer, but I do believe that it should be used in addition to other things. "

MUSIC at UHS must be accessible for EVERY CHILD through the Curriculum

It is our firm belief and commitment at UHS in our music department that SEN and/or PP students should be furnished with the same access to high quality resources, teaching and opportunity to develop, excel and perform in music.

This commitment is present in our lesson planning and extracurricular offer, which is being increasingly populated by PP and SEN students, in our post COVID recovery phase.

Music is a cornerstone of the arts and is priceless for its own sake; however, when it comes to economics, music has powerful relevance too.


The music industry is a vital and thriving part of the UK economy, with live and recorded music business activity contributing over £4.5 billion to the UK economy in 2018. [Follow this link for more information] As such, music offers genuine pathways into lucrative and highly enjoyable employment, with roles such as:

  • Performer
  • Writer/Composer
  • Sound Engineer
  • PA design
  • Producer
  • Music Transport/Logistics/Roadie
  • Archivist
  • DJ
  • Artist Management
  • Event Management
  • Music Marketing
  • Music Lawyer

The COVID Pandemic has had a significant impact on the number of live events for music in our global society, but there are signs of a strong recovery, particularly in jobs for the recording sector, which has been strengthened by the demand for streamed and downloaded music as people seek the strength, empowerment and comfort that music brings to our lives. Our courses of study will seek to capitalise on this trend to prepare students with relevant and useful skills, including the creativity and understanding of how to produce their own musical material.


Numerous prestigious universities and colleges/conservatories of music offer talented, hard-working and proven young musicians the chance to build on their music skills at tertiary level.

Courses are aimed towards entry into such music sectors as: Contemporary pop music performance or production, classical music performance, music journalism, music business roles.

From Oxford to Cambridge, Birmingham to Brunel, Edinburgh to Exeter and London Kings College to Kingston University, the list of possible Music-based courses is bound to cater for every possible kind of aspiration and skill-set.

We have designed our music curriculum to help students acquire the core music skills in the foundation phase and develop the specialisms they opt for in either the classical or technical disciplines during the mastery and advanced phases. Their potential pathway into degree-level music study or work is greatly enhanced by our curriculum content and structure.


The purpose of the music curriculum is to allow young people to develop powerful personal skills such as:

  • Detailed and focused listening to identify fine details
  • Multitasking skills (performing a solo to an audience)
  • Resilience (music practice techniques)
  • Comparison and analysis, justifying points with musical vocabulary
  • Team work and Networking skills
  • Music also offers unique experiences for young people to develop confidence by working outside their ‘comfort zone’

Specialist music skills that students develop include:

  • Reading music notation
  • Decoding Chord Symbols
  • Maths in music (e.g. Roman numeral chords, interval, theory of harmony, scale structures)
  • Fine motor control skills
  • Hand-eye coordination skills
  • Musical vocabulary, including how to link sound/symbol to emotion/context
  • Performing/presentation Skills
  • Composition skills
  • IT skills through the use of sophisticated music apps e.g. Logic X pro
  • Recording, mixing and mastering skills


Years 7 and 8 invites students to learn the foundation music skills required for progression, in weekly one-hour lessons.

All students learn how to read music and develop a working understanding of the key musical elements and devices that are part of the ‘building blocks’ of music, such as ostinatos/riffs, chords, time signatures, forms and structures. Already here in the foundation years, the new 9-1 GCSE music exam vocabulary is put into direct use within lessons.

Y7/8 students compose numerous pieces of music to develop and extend their skills, creating within recognised musical structures and making increasingly confident and imaginative use of devices, including ‘tricks of the trade’ as used by successful, revered and popular musicians of the past and present time.

They learn how to perform music to an audience, making use of presentation skills such as body language and self-management techniques.

They listen to and write about musical features from a wide range of styles and periods of musical history, gaining a sense of time and place and commenting on the effect of the music.

Regular and effective feedback enables them to ‘feed forward’ and improve on their musical output and make further progress.

Year 9 is our transitional year in which the students delve deeper into the underpinning concepts that music depends upon to work. Characteristic rhythms, chord sequences, melodies and textures are explored in more detail. A truly diverse range of styles, periods and genres are analysed. Musical forms and professional structures such as strophic form are compared and worked upon.

Students are required to perform longer, more complex music, and develop their ability to compose longer, more developed and feature-rich pieces of music for assessment.

Listening tests begin to prepare students more closely for further study and enrichment through music later in their learning journey and in their lives.

The Mastery phase offers our students in years 10 and 11 the choice to achieve professionally-relevant expertise in:

GCSE Music

Music Tech Level 2 (vocational)*

*Working towards re-establishment of this course as a parallel option for mastery students, as music engagement builds post-COVID in our learning community.



Students are offered priority places on our music instrument tuition programme, and required to join at least one extracurricular music group to enhance their performance skills.

Regular opportunities to perform include our three ‘music showcase’ events such as Winter showcase, Spring showcase and the Summer Art and Music Show live performances. We also strive to put on productions/shows wherever possible and produce other smaller-scale performance opportunities like music in assemblies, at the Shakespeare festival, open evenings and community events such as ‘Show and Prove’ (in conjunction with One Hillingdon).

Performances are recorded and added to the student’s portfolios for coursework entry. The last time for performances to be recorded is by end of February in Year 11.


Students build upon their transitional knowledge, working with techniques such as diatonic chords, sequences, modulations, alternative time signatures and rhythmic structures.

All students are required to complete two compositions for coursework, in the Autumn and Spring Term of Year 11.


Throughout the course, study of the two ‘set-works’ are essential in lessons that focus on listening. Practice questions that enable access to the higher-levels of music vocabulary build towards the challenges of sample papers. Progress is tracked using data and interventions occur, such as music theory coaching sessions.

The final exam takes place in the June/July of Year 11.


BTEC Level 2 Tech Award in Music Practice

**This course prepares students for entrance into careers in the sound, music creation, and broadcasting industry, and makes full use of the excellent facilities we have in the Orsino building, including our recording studio and mac suite. The apps we use include industry-standard programs such as Logic X Pro and Sibelius, which is of tremendous benefit as they will be already familiar with processes, features and enhancements for sound and music that these apps provide.

**in preparation for 2023 re-introduction, subject to demand and appropriateness for learner’s pathways with regard to spec-changes

This vibrant course covers three units of study, with coursework tasks for each one that are assessed, internally verified and stored securely, awaiting the annual visits of an EV.

The units include:


The advanced stage for Music features the chance for Year 12 and 13 students to develop their expertise further through our BTEC Level 3 Extended Certificate in Digital Music Production. This is an excellent, fit-for-purpose course that enables our students to access modern music industry pathways to employment and develops advanced skills in music production, recording, composition and performance. Jobs in radio, production, sound communication technology are thereby accessible.

There are five units of study:

  • Music and Sound for Media
  • Commercial Music Production
  • Creative Sampling
  • Mixing, Mastering and Re-mixes
  • DAW production

Entry requirements are:

  • Either: GCSE Music at grade 4 or above
  • Or: BTEC Level 2 in Music Technology at Merit or above


Course Structure overview in KS5

Year 1:

Students learn how Apple Digital Audio Workstation software works in our Mac Suite and Recording Studio. Working individually and in teams, they begin to create and record their own tracks and mixes for projects, using Logic Pro and ProTools Apps, and our professional microphones. They learn in detail how a DAW functions and explore the world of commercial music production and the roles within it.

Year 2:

Students develop further digital recording and sound creation techniques and production skills, creating own samples and remixes in response to briefs. They learn many of the professional ‘tricks of the trade’ currently used in the commercial music sector, and develop their own music production ‘style’. Further details on assessment structures can be seen in our BTEC Music Tech course handbook, available on request from the Mr Dawson, lead IV.

The BTEC Level 3 ext. Cert. is equivalent to 1 ‘A’ level in UCAS points.


Music Instrument Lessons are offered to all students from Year 7 onwards. These are chargeable and run by the Hillingdon Music Service, a trusted partner at UHS who provide high-quality, experienced music teachers who arrive fully DBS-checked and have a strong rapport and high reputation with our students and parents.

The purpose of these lessons is to offer students the chance to extend their music performance skills in control, expression and ability to interpret a piece of music with style and idiomatic awareness of genre.

These skills are vital to attain grades 9-7 at GCSE or to make create the conditions for successful recordings and mixes for distinction grading in Music Tech.


We are delighted that post-lockdown, we have been able to re-establish the core of our music instrument lessons programme, providing students with the highest quality teachers, who are committed to our setting. Engagement with the needs of PP and SEN students has meant that whereas before the pandemic, not one of the students enlisted in the music instrument programme was PP or SEN, this situation has dramatically improved, which points to higher levels of interest and progress in music from these groups in classroom experiences in the music department (see table below)


Extra-curricular music clubs offer further chances for all our students to get involved more deeply in the riches and joys of music as part of their life and personal expression and development.

The work in these groups builds on and complements what students are learning in their curriculum lessons, and they often come along to extend and refine songs and projects that have started as classwork or homework. Groups include:

1.  Singer & Songwriter Club

2.  Keyboard Club

3.  Band coaching Sessions

4.  Bespoke Rehearsals in preparation for shows and events


Music Concerts, Shows, Events and Visits

Our programme of concerts, shows, events and visits is a cornerstone of how we will display, celebrate and share the musical skills, progress and talents of our students.

At all stages of the curriculum, music lesson content is delivered with the intention in mind of nurturing potential live performance and music composition products, for occasions as obvious as one of our concerts, to other events such as Sports Day, in which specially composed music by our students greatly enhances the tone and enjoyment of a much-loved occasion.


Our offer of music concerts, shows, events and visits is well en route to full recovery in a post-Pandemic context.

The success of our summer concerts and the re-establishment of our Winter Music Showcase event are driving a tangible uptake in music making and the social and wellbeing benefits amongst students are transformational.

Jeremy Dawson

July 2022