Our mission at The Matthew Arnold School is to instil a culture of passion and enjoyment in music, essentially with the aim of getting every child playing and singing as much as possible every lesson.

Every child, no matter their background, should be able to access music at school and have musical opportunities to be inspired, to be challenged and to thrive. Music has proven benefits to develop several educational skills such as numeracy, literacy and linguistic but most importantly has countless proven emotional and mental health benefits. Music can bring a sense of community, can help manage depression, anxiety and other mental health issues but most of all can be fun.

At The Matthew Arnold School, all children learn how to play the keyboard in the first few lessons of music and are given the skills to learn songs that they enjoy.

Music should be a vibrant, diverse and practical subject. Over the 5 years, students will learn and develop 3 key musical skills:


How to play a variety of music from different genres, cultures and periods in time such as…

  • Pop (including rock, rock n roll, jazz, hip hop and many others)
  • Music from around the world (including Reggae from the Caribbean, Latin American, Indian, African and blues)
  • Film and computer game music
  • Classical (music from 17th to 20th centuries including Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Minimalism)
  • Musical theatre


  • What makes these pieces typical of their genre and time
  • How to describe music and identify features, with a big focus on musical literacy (e.g. using musical words such as texture, sonority, pitch, melody etc.)


  • How to write their own music
  • How to read and write music; one of the most fun and exciting skills a child can learn

Key Stage 3

In the first year of music, students will be learning how to play chords and melodies (tunes) on the keyboard. The units we’ll cover in Years 7 and 8 are Pop Music, Film Music, Electronic Dance Music, Reggae and Blues and Theme and Variation (students will learn Beethoven’s Fur Elise and compose variations of it).

Musical literacy is a key feature of our music education, as I see Years 7 and 8 as years 1 and 2 of GCSE. All the terms we will be learning such as ‘Pulse’, ‘Dynamics,’ ‘Texture,’ ‘Melody,’ ‘Chords,’ ‘Bass line’ will be revisited every year.


Year 7 choir has been a hit! It currently runs on Monday lunchtime; please look at the school Twitter and Facebook pages for videos of our singing! All in Year 7 welcome! Guitar and ukulele club has also started on Thursdays in which we have learnt songs such as ‘Let It Be’ by The Beatles and ‘Paint it Black’ by The Rolling Stones.

Key Stage 4

The students will be developing their performing, composing and listening skills that they learnt at KS3.


If taking GCSE Music, all students are expected to take instrumental lessons either in or outside school to support the performing part of the course, which will equate to 30% of the GCSE course. This will involve them preparing 1 ensemble piece (e.g. this could be a piano duet with their teacher, a rock band, a vocal duet) and either a 2nd ensemble piece or a solo piece of their choice (e.g. an acoustic guitar piece, a musical theatre song, a piano piece.)


Each student will be required to compose 2 pieces of music, 1 will be to a brief given by the exam board, and another will be totally free. They will be encouraged to compose for their instrument. The students will compose on the keyboard in lesson time and at home.


All the musical language we learnt in Years 7 and 8 will be revised and developed in Key Stage 4.

We will be exploring a wider range of music genres and learning how to apply these terms to these genres in order to prepare the students for the Eduqas GCSE listening exam in Year 11. These genres range from Electronic Dance Music to Musical Theatre, Horror Music, Rock and Pop, World Music from India, Africa and Latin America and Jazz.


The listening exam also involves learning 2 set pieces, so the students will learn about the context and musical features of ‘Africa’ by Toto and ‘Badinerie’ by J.S.Bach for Flute and String Orchestra with Harpsichord (Final movement).



In order to support the listening exam and general musicianship, students are encouraged to learn theory outside the lesson as well as in class such as by practising using apps Tenuto –, Theory Lessons – and Music Theory Pro.

Useful links

We are excited to announce that from January 2021, instrumental lessons in bass, acoustic and electric guitar, drum kit, singing and piano will begin (Covid-19 permitted). Please download the application form if you would like more details.Application Form

For further reading, here are some useful links:

KS3 Music

KS4 music

Virtual keyboard

Note flight – music notation software

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