All Shell (year 9) pupils receive two class lessons of music each week. The course covers performance, composition, listening and appraising. Curriculum activities include opportunities for mixed ability, streamed, individual, small group and whole class work. Pupils taking individual music lessons will have the chance to use their instruments in performances, both as soloists and in small class ensembles, as well as exploring the theory of music through improvisation, composition and listening. Those pupils who do not learn an instrument will spend time during the year learning either a string or brass instrument, acquiring some basic playing skills and performing simple ensemble pieces. All pupils spend half a term using the computer software, Sibelius and the department is involved in regular cross-curricular projects with other subjects; in the past these have included Shakespeare-based collaborations with the English Department and work on Stalinist Russia with the History department.
In addition to their work in the classroom, all pupils attend a concert given by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra during the year and have the chance to attend the frequent concerts given in school, both by their peers and by visiting professional musicians.
Pupils follow the Edexcel GCSE course. The exam requires pupils to prepare performances, write two compositions and study set works, with the course culminating in a listening paper based on knowledge of these pieces. Approximately two-thirds of the course is completed as coursework, with just one unit taken in the Summer examination series. There are normally two sets for GCSE music, with a maximum set size of about 10 pupils. The teaching of composition, where individual work is crucial, is further split: for this part of the course, staff-pupil ratios are normally one to five at the most. The department has its own computer suite, with machines running the latest Sibelius composition software.
Canford’s music results are excellent at GCSE level. In the last five years (the time we have been following the current specification) 47% of grades have been at A*, whilst 95% have been at A or A*. No candidate achieved lower than a B grade.
Pupils follow the Edexcel A level course. This broad and academically demanding course requires pupils to prepare performances, write compositions and technical studies and study set works. Approximately two-thirds of the course is completed as coursework, with just one unit taken in the June examination series.
Canford’s music results are excellent at A level. In the last five years 40% of grades were at A*, whilst 80% have been at A or A*. AS results have been similarly impressive, with 82% A grades in the last five years.
Many pupils who study music at A level continue to read music at university. Manchester has been a popular recent destination, with no fewer than 6 Canfordians reading music there in the last three years. We have also sent musicians to Oxford, the Birmingham Conservatoire, Nottingham, York, Durham and Cardiff.