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Subject Overview

Music is a statutory requirement at KS3.  As a subject it promotes teamwork, discipline, empathy, compassion, communication and a vast array of personal skills.


Music is a life skill and a creative art form. It helps pupils develop their ability to use voice, movement, gesture and facial expression, in acting, mime, dance drama and improvisation. They can express and manage their thoughts and feelings – shared and experienced – while working in a safe and controlled environment. The development of these skills encourages self-confidence and awareness of the individual pupil.   Music often leads to performance for a wider audience.

Key Stage 3

All pupils study Music in Years 8-10 receiving three periods of Music a fortnight. The Key Stage 3 curriculum provides important opportunities to develop students practical, exploratory, expressive, design and problem-solving skills.  It promotes the development of the individual in a group context: roles and ideas are negotiated, problems are solved and decisions are made together.

Head of Department

Mrs S Tennyson


Key Stage 3 Extra Curricular Activities /Trips/Industry links


  • School Choir Monday 3-3.50pm

  • Traditional Group - Tuesday 3-3.50pm

  • Instrumental lessons in strings, woodwind, voice, guitar & piano.

  • Peace Proms Workshop at Queen’s University Belfast

  • Peace Proms Concert at the SSE Arena Belfast

Key Stage 4

GCSE Music


Music is a popular choice at Key Stage 4. In St Mary’s we offer Level 2 Performing Skills as well as GCSE Music (CCEA Specification)


The GCSE Music specification is suitable for everybody who enjoys music or listening to music, composing, playing an instrument or using music technology. It encourages students to develop their musical potential by focusing on the three fundamental activities of performing, composing and listening.


Students explore contrasting music from a range of contexts, for example classical, pop, film and traditional Irish music. This deepens their appreciation of the diverse heritage of music. It also promotes their personal, social, intellectual and cultural development.


Through the performance element of the course, students develop the skills they need to communicate effectively as musicians. This increases their self-confidence and enhances their presentation, communication and evaluation skills. The opportunity to write their own music lets them be creative.

Assessment structure

Component 1: Performing and Appraising


You will complete a solo performance and an ensemble performance (as part of a group).

In both, you will:

  • demonstrate technical control and accuracy;

  • consider interpretation and communication of the composer’s intentions with an appropriate style;

  • demonstrate understanding and apply stylistic features appropriate to the chosen programme.


You will learn to discuss and appraise your own work and the work of others.

Component 2: Composing

You will compose two original pieces of music; one is free choice and one is in response to a stimulus.

You will:

  • create and develop musical ideas;

  • understand, control and use musical resources effectively;

  • make consistent and effective use of the following within a chosen style or genre:

    • structure;

    • harmony;

    • texture;

    • rhythm;

    • timbre; and

    • music technology.

Component 3: Listening and Appraising

You will build on the knowledge, understanding and appreciation of music gained through Components 1 and 2.

You will study four compulsory Areas of Study:

  • Western Classical Music 1600–1910

  • Film Music

  • Musical Traditions of Ireland

  • Popular Music 1980–present day

Within each area you will study set works.

You will develop your understanding of the relationship between music and its contexts and you will listen to and appraise familiar and unfamiliar music by a range of composers.

Post 16


Performing Arts (CCEA Specification) has proved a popular choice in St. Mary’s, collaborating with A-Level pupils from St Mark’s High School.

Assessment structure

AS1 - Developing Skills and Repertoire 60% of AS 24% of A- Level

Performance of a monologue and a duologue.

Students develop their skills and apply them to practical contexts. They must produce a portfolio of evidence, including research, a skills audit, a risk assessment and a record and evaluation of their work.

AS 2 - Planning and Realising a Performing Arts Event 40% of AS 16% of A Level

Pupils plan and realise a performing arts event. Students produce a supporting document to record their work as they plan, develop and realise their performing arts event.

A2 1 - Planning for Employment 60% of A2 36% of A Level

Students learn about planning for employment in the performing arts industry. They produce a promotional portfolio and take part in an interview. Performance students have an audition.

A2 2 - Performing to a Commission Brief 40% of A2 24% of A Level

Students form a production company to research, plan, promote and realise a performing arts event in response to a commission brief. They produce a record of work, which includes a research report, promotional materials and evidence of tasks completed. Students continue in their production or performance role and, as a group, perform their arts event.

Employability/job opportunities/further study


  • Progression pathways include a career in:

  • Performance

  • Composing

  • Teaching

  • Music production

  • Sound engineering

  • Instrument making and repair.

Related career areas include arts management and music journalism.


St Mary's High School, Newry

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