Music is an inclusive subject in the Lower School, and the emphasis is on developing practical skills in a fun and friendly atmosphere. This is underpinned by a solid understanding of music theory. From Third Year, Music becomes an option subject and this is reflected in a more structured approach to listening, performing, composing, theory and the use of music technology.
We use Sibelius and Logic software for composition from the Third Year up to A Level, and we run the latest versions of these applications in our newly updated Mac Suite.
Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent
At GCSE we follow the Cambridge IGCSE course, and students develop skills of solo and ensemble performing, composing in contrasting styles, as well as listening and essay writing. Students study the history of western music, including one set work in detail, and several world music areas from countries and regions such as China, Japan, India, Indonesia and Latin America. Coursework comprises two performances (solo and ensemble) and two compositions. The written paper takes place in June of the final year and includes a range of questions to test aural skills in the set areas.
We follow the AQA syllabus at A Level. For their final recording students need to prepare a performance of 10-15 minutes, approximately at Grade 7 standard. Students also produce two contrasting compositions, and they sit a written paper comprising listening and essay questions based on the set works of the course. The set works are taken from the compulsory classical area of study, and of two further areas of study (such as Popular Music, Film Music, Jazz, or Art Music since 1910).
Music A Level course guide
Regular concerts ranging from small informal lunchtime Lovekyn Recitals to large end-of-term events are given during the school year, at which students of all abilities are given the chance to perform, both individually and in groups. Our main concerts are: a concert featuring our main school groups and a whole First Year Choir; a concert in March, usually at an outside venue, featuring main school groups and the KGS Choral Society joining forces with the School Chamber Choir; a House Music competition at the end of the Summer term, which is organised and presented by the students themselves, and professionally adjudicated.
We are fortunate to have welcomed some internationally acclaimed performers to KGS recently such as Roderick Williams, Voces8 and the Josephine Davies Quartet. In addition to their performances they have also worked with our students in a workshop setting.
All orchestral instruments – as well as theory, saxophone, piano, classical/ acoustic/electric/bass guitar, music technology, singing – are offered at KGS by 22 experienced visiting music teachers, and many instruments are available for hire.
Choral singing flourishes at KGS and regular groups include the Senior Choir, Chamber Choir, and Junior Choirs. The Senior Choir and Chamber Choirs join forces with the KGS Choral Society in our annual spring concerts, where they perform a large-scale choral work, accompanied by a professional orchestra and professional singers.
The KGS Choral Society, founded in 1981, consists of students, parents and friends of KGS, and meets in the Spring term each year. Since its foundation, it has performed a number of works from the choral repertoire including Verdi’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah and Haydn’s Creation.
In addition to the busy musical life at KGS, there are regular trips to concerts and operas in London as well as tours abroad. The School Choir toured Salzburg and Rome, where they performed at the Vatican and other prestigious venues. Other recent destinations have included Venice, singing mass at St Mark’s, as well as tours to Germany, Spain, Malta, Leipzig, Prague and Paris.
There are many opportunities for instrumentalists to join a group as soon as they become reasonably proficient. They include: Symphony Orchestra, Junior Symphony Orchestra, Jazz Orchestra and Popular Music bands, with separate groups for guitar, flute and brass. We are lucky to have a number of talented musicians across the year groups in addition to our Music Scholars. These musicians form the core of our smaller ensembles, and many of them play in regional or national orchestras and receive tuition in the junior departments of the conservatoire.
As well as helping out at regular Music Department events, the Society has promoted concerts by external professional artists, organised trips to concerts at reduced rates, and organised highly successful social events. Membership of the Society is open to all parents at the School, for an annual subscription of £15 per family.
Members receive a regular newsletter and are entitled to reduced rates for Music Society events. In recent years, contributions from the Society have, among other things, enabled the Music Department to purchase various instruments, including the superb Yamaha C7 grand piano in the School Hall, a new baby grand piano in the Lovekyn Chapel, a Clavinova in the Smike Recording Studio, violins for our whole class ‘wider opportunities’ instrumental teaching, as well as a brand new double bass. Generous donations from their fundraising activities have also helped to provide new music technology for the Music Department and equipment for the Recording Studio.
The Society also gives financial support to music tours, to workshops for students in the First to Third Years, and to several students, nominated annually by the Music staff, for a year’s lessons on a ‘shortage’ instrument.
Music Information Booklet
- Director of Music, Mr M Laflin
- Teacher of Music, Mr J Tierney