Music is a unique form of communication that can change the way we feel, think and act. Music forms part of our identity and positive interaction with music can develop a boy’s competence as a learner and increase his self-esteem. Music brings together intellect and feeling and enables personal expression, reflection and emotional development. As an integral part of culture, past and present, music helps us understand ourselves and relate to others.
Music is taught in every year group by four specialist music staff. Facilities include four classrooms, two large and two small, a number of practice rooms, as well as an ICT suite equipped with iMacs and controller keyboards. Whitgift boys have been successful in applications to Oxford and Cambridge to read Music, whilst others achieve choral and organ scholarships to colleges including King’s College, Cambridge and Christ Church, Oxford.
Through the study of music from diverse times and places, we aim to provide boys of all musical abilities with the opportunity to develop their core musical skills of performing, composing and listening in an environment which is enjoyable and stimulating. Boys are encouraged to nurture an understanding and respect for the way music works in all its various forms. They are required to work collaboratively as well as individually. They are challenged to rethink their perceptions and evaluate their preconceptions about music. They are taught to appraise their own work critically. It is our hope that the study of music will help the boys to unlock hidden musical talents and gain a greater appreciation and lifelong love of the subject.
Boys in the Lower School study and experience a wide variety of musical styles through a combination of performing, composing and listening activities. Boys learn about the fundamentals of music, the so-called Musical Elements, and study how they are used in such wide-ranging styles as African Drumming, Salsa and Electronica. As well as a significant practical element, the use of music-specific ICT plays an increasingly important role in the work the boys undertake, be it in the use of notation packages (Sibelius) or sequencing software (Garageband and Logic Pro).
The same three core skills form the basis of music lessons in the Upper School. Music is offered at GCSE and A Level following the Edexcel specification, as well as at IB.
In such a creative subject, much of the work the boys undertake inevitably involves a practical element. However, we feel it important to instil theoretical knowledge at the same time to help boys to develop well-rounded musical skills. Academic studies are bolstered by work clinics and a Music Technology club runs once a week, open to all pupils.
Schemes of Work
Designed and developed in-house, most units of work in the Lower School last for one half term, with work assessed at the end. The Schemes of Work build progressively, with core areas of focus in each year. Boys in the Lower First learn about instrumental timbres and dynamics, for example, whereas melody, improvisation and notation are addressed in the Upper First and chords and harmony in the Lower Third. In the Upper Third Form, where music becomes an option subject, boys make extensive use of Music Technology and also begin to study important elements of the GCSE course.
The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music
Trinity Guildhall Music exams site
Rock School exams site
The Naxos online music library (for which the School has an account so that pupils can access the whole of the Naxos CD collection via online streaming)
See the Co-curricular Music section for more aspects of Whitgift Music.