“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent."
Music is everywhere – indeed in the 21st century it is virtually impossible to get away from it. Newtownhamilton High School is no different, with pupils becoming more and more excited about the endless resources there are available at their fingertips, from smart phones, to tablets, and even small recording studios built right into their devices. The opportunities are limitless, and these are often put to great use in the Music Department.
The Music Department is certainly busy. At Key Stage 3 there is a firm emphasis on music being a practical, relevant subject, of course through the three components: listening, performing and composing. It is essential that pupils can relate to the music that they are studying, and so it’s not all about the orchestral instruments and classical music! Pupils are encouraged to bring their own styles and musical preferences into the classroom. In the past we’ve even had a lambeg drum!
A well-equipped department allows pupils to experiment and develop their creativity, through traditional classroom instruments such as tuned percussion, as well as their ICT skills, making use of Apple resources, particularly Garageband. Pupils explore music in advertising, television and film, as well as the endless possible career opportunities. Who knows, perhaps we will have budding composers of film music or advertising jingles in our midst!
Pupils explore a wide range of musical styles through various listening and performance exercises, and more often than not discovers they actually enjoy music which initially they imagine they would hate! Pupils will listen to and become inspired by the composers of Jazz, Ragtime, Rock ‘n’ Roll and even Reggae, to name a few, as well as the more popular artists of today. Derek Ryan and Nathan Carter have even been known to have popped up through our lessons! Pupils then become enthused to compose their own music, usually working in pairs or small groups, making use of ICT resources.
Performing is a firm favourite for many pupils. Don’t worry, it’s not like X-Factor – but all pupils perform parts which they are comfortable with, and at the same time challenge them to step outside their comfort zone and experience performing with the whole class. Numerous class arrangements have proved popular, including hits from Snow Patrol, Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars.
Assessment is continual throughout the year. Listening tests are made up of a combination of styles listened to throughout the term. Composition is usually completed in either pairs or small groups, with everyone in the class contributing! Continual assessment also allows pupils to evaluate themselves, setting and reviewing targets.
Whether pupils are Grade 7 or simply beginning their music education for the first time, there is something for everyone. This also applies to the various choral and instrumental groups that feature throughout the school year. Our very popular Girls Choir, for example sing at numerous events, including Prize Night, the annual Carol Service, as well as other events throughout the community.