We have a specialist music teacher in school who is an accomplished musician and regular performer outside of school. There are six peripatetic music teachers who give free tuition in brass, woodwind, voice, percussion, guitar/bass and piano. These lessons take place in three private practice rooms, connected to the main music room. They each have a networked computer, piano, drum kit and guitars with amplifiers. This free tuition is available to students across the school and is compulsory for our GCSE musicians. The second teaching room, a music technology suite, features 23 networked computers, all of which are equipped with music software such as Sibelius 7 and Cubase Studio 5. There are full Djembe and Samba Kits, as well as a set of Steel Pans all of which are topics covered in Key Stage 3. There are also acoustic and electric guitars, ukuleles and penny whistles used for whole class teaching. We are proud to be able to offer wind and brass instruments which are available for our young musicians to use.
Key Stage 3
Music in Key Stage 3 develops three main musical skills – listening and appraising, composition and performance. Our schemes of learning cater for different learning styles and improve student’s application of music technology.
We plan thoroughly and aim to provide opportunities for these skills during each lesson. Topics covered in Key Stage 3 include performance skills on a number of instruments, music theory, the orchestra, samba, djembe drumming, practical musicianship in guitar and drum kit as well as an ensemble project. Year 8 musicians learn a range of practical skills on instruments such as guitar and drum kit before participating in the Musical Futures project. We aim for students to finish Key Stage 3 with good technical skills demonstrable through at least three instruments even if they choose not to pursue music at GCSE level. We use innovative and creative composition strategies looking at art, poetry and other cultures for inspiration and use the music technology software 'Sibelius 7' as a teaching tool to ensure students are all capable of using it competently before the end of Key Stage 3. Students are exposed to a wide range of musical styles and are encouraged to analyse music objectively using new knowledge to form an opinion. We aim to make students excited about music and to help them become well rounded and accomplished musicians.
Key Stage 4
Our GCSE musicians follow the AQA syllabus as it puts emphasis on the practical skills needed. 40% of the available marks are awarded through a written examination, whilst the remaining 60% is split evenly between composing two pieces and performing a solo and an ensemble piece. Music students are put through their paces in our master classes to enhance their achievement in these areas and are encouraged to participate in extra-curricular activities such as choir, band, ukulele club or samba. All young musicians receive free instrumental tuition and can perform on an instrument or use their voice. There are regular intervention sessions at lunchtimes and after school to provide one to one support for all students. GCSE musicians are given the opportunity to showcase their work at our cabaret style recital evenings.
Extra-curricular Clubs There is a variety of extra-curricular clubs and activities that enhance students' involvement, enjoyment and understanding of the subject, making it inclusive for all. The extra-curricular clubs that are currently in place are:
Choir - The choir has been established for several years and rehearse twice a week at lunchtimes. They have gained great acclamation from various audiences including the judges at the Southport and Crosby Festivals where they were placed. We are proud that we have a non-auditioned choir with approximately 40 students as members that creates opportunities for all students. The choir plays an important role at our Rewards Evening as well as at a number of community and school events throughout the year. These include visits to local nursing homes, carol concerts and the Meols Cop Proms. Students perform pieces from a wide range of musical cultures and genres.
School Band - The school band was formed in September 2011. Since then, its number of members has grown and the quality of music that is produced has improved. Similar to the choir, the band is non-auditioned and includes students of different abilities ranging from beginners to Grade 5. The band was entered into the Southport Festival and won their category in 2014. The school band has performed at Rewards Evening as well as at the Meols Cop Christmas concert. All students who receive peripatetic music lessons are encouraged to join the band as part of their development and to master instrumental skills.
Samba Band - Established in September 2012, the Samba band was initially aimed at GCSE music students in order to enhance their understanding of world music. It involves students playing a range of samba instruments including surdos, cutadors, tamborins, ago-gos and ganzas to create traditional Brazilian music. The band has now expanded to include some of our Key stage 3 students and performs at school concerts throughout the year.
Music Practice Club - Here is an opportunity for students to rehearse and develop their practical skills. Fully equipped practice rooms are available at lunchtimes, four days a week. Students are encouraged to create a performance that can be used in school productions or assemblies.
Theory Club - This takes place once a week at lunchtime. It gives our students the opportunity to develop their theoretical knowledge of music including the reading of notation. Each year in March, students are entered for ABRSM Graded Music Theory examinations that are appropriate to their ability. Every year has seen a 100% pass rate.
Intervention - Intervention is available at lunchtimes and after school to allow GCSE students to continue with their coursework. The department aims to expand the opportunities available for students in order to encompass an ever expanding variety of cultures and styles. Suggestions are also taken from members of the Performing Arts Council, who feedback the views and opinions of our students.
Enrichment activities - are a key aspect of music at Meols Cop High School. The department offers an external visit or guest speaker twice a year to ensure students can access music outside of the curriculum as well as providing countless opportunities for them to perform.
Educational visits that have taken place include musical theatre trips to see 'Legally Blonde', 'We Will Rock You,' 'Jekyll and Hyde' and 'Hairspray.' Students also travelled to London's West End to see a production of 'Wicked' which was a fantastic experience. They also had the chance to watch 'The Pirates of Penzance', a musical operetta. GCSE students have visited MediaCityUK to watch an open rehearsal by the BBC Philharmonic, a wonderful opportunity to see and hear a live orchestra up close. Year 9 students watch a visiting band each year with several having appeared in televised popular culture shows. This acts as music promotion to show the students how GCSE music has influenced other people. The band performs several songs and also takes part in a question and answer session. Professional master-classes are provided for GCSE students twice a year. This gives students the opportunity to observe performances by experienced musicians as well as obtaining feedback and suggestions as to how to improve their own performances. Our musicians' contribution to the wider school community gives them the chance to communicate with the residents and perform a selection of songs, collaborating with staff from the nursing homes.
Throughout the year, the department offers students to perform in a variety of contexts. One of the most popular is the 'Battle of the Bands' competition. This allows students to perform with their existing bands or to create new ones to perform cover songs and/or their own original material. The winner receives a recording session to create an EP of their band's tracks. 'The Meols Cop Proms' is an evening of music, dance and drama performance. It is a showcase for all of our young musicians within the school to perform a solo, duet and/or as part of a group. Students who receive funded peripatetic lessons from the school are given the chance to perform their pieces, which have been honed throughout the year, to parents and friends. We have great pride in the annual school production which is a collaboration of music, dance and drama.
Previous productions include 'The Wizard of Oz,' 'We Will Rock You', ‘Alice and Wonderland’ ‘Bugsy Malone’ and ‘The Addams Family’ all of which were hugely successful and well received by large audiences over two consecutive nights. Students from across all school years participate in the event which requires a huge amount of dedication and commitment .Rehearsals take place over a term with students involved in full cast acting, dancing and singing lessons as well as separate band practices to rehearse the accompanying music. Members of the cast also attend Saturday rehearsals to combine all three elements together, again showing the students' enthusiasm for the production. GCSE Recital Evenings provides an opportunity for all GCSE Music students to showcase their examination performances. Every student performs either a solo or ensemble piece, collaborating with members of their own classes as well as across the two year groups.
The Performing Arts Council was established in 2011 in order to allow students to take ownership of how the performing arts are developed within the school. The council meet half termly to discuss matters such as repertoire for choir and band, new extra-curricular activities and students' involvement with the subject. The meetings have been extremely useful in generating new ideas for the department. Annually, the choir and school band enter both the Southport and Crosby Music Festival competitions. This is an opportunity for the students to perform and compete with other schools in the local area. The band and choir have won awards in the competitions since the first year they have entered. Additionally, the GCSE music groups also enter the Southport competition submitting an original composition. In previous years this has been based on 'STOMP' - making music out of everyday objects, which was awarded 3rd and 2nd place in subsequent years. The choir were also asked by Crosby Festival judges to perform in the winner's concert at Southport Civic Hall.