Department | Music2021-01-20T15:53:51+00:00

Department | Music



Mr. A. Boyd
Head of Department
Mrs. C. Phillips

Subject Information

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Studying Music is, fundamentally, intended to develop pupils’ enjoyment and appreciation when engaging with music through composing, performing and listening. Across each of the year groups, pupils are encouraged to participate in group and independent tasks that will equip them with skills that can be transferred into their futures, whether directly related to music or not. These skills include: creativity, communication and working with others.

Throughout the topics of study, students will be encouraged to take risks in their learning, reflect upon these and identify ways to improve the quality of the outcome of their work. Pupils will be challenged to be the best they can be and fulfil their potential in each of the strands of the subject in every task they undertake.a

As a skills-based subject, Music has a profound impact on the holistic development of every student. We strengthen communication skills, not only in terms of written and verbal, but also expressive through performance on a wide range of instruments. Collaboration with others is fundamental to the development of musical experiences for students in Key Stages 3 & 4 through composition and performance tasks. The ability to analyse information and justify opinions is also a common thread across all aspects of the study of music. Students who excel in Music are those who have acquired a high level of attention to detail and are critical thinkers while working under pressure.

Key Stage 3

In Year 8, the elements of music are introduced and built upon through units of study such as Rhythm and Pulse, Percussion, Ostinato, What makes a good song and Introduction to the Orchestra. Performance activities are based around percussion instruments, singing and recorder.

Building on skills acquired in the previous year, Year 9 pupils look at Mood Music, Music for Film as well as Music for Special Occasions throughout the year. There is a strong focus on the use of ICT to enhance learning throughout each of the topics. Performance tasks are shared between recorder and keyboard.

Year 10 focuses on Jazz and Musical Arrangements. Pupils are introduced to ukulele as the primary performance instrument and provided with a foundation in chords and harmony. Again, pupils benefit from using ICT to enhance their learning experiences and skills to ensure they are fully equipped for study at Key Stage 4 if they so desire.


Pupils are assessed in three areas: performing, composing and listening at the end of the two-year course.

The performance element is worth 35% of the overall mark. Candidates will be required to perform at least one piece by themselves and as part of a group. The length of the programme should be no longer than 6 minutes in total. A brief discussion about the music performed with the external examiner will also be carried out. Pieces performed do not have to be from examinations but should be a minimum equivalent standard to Grade 3.

A composition portfolio of 2 pieces will be submitted at the end of Year 12 lasting between 3-6 minutes. The first piece is entirely free choice while the second must include a stimulus provided by CCEA. This part of the course is worth 30%.

Pieces of music in 4 areas of study are covered: Western Classical Music, Film Music, Musical Traditions in Ireland and Popular Music. Students will be assessed on these in 1 listening examination lasting 1 hour 30 minutes. Pupils will also be asked questions about previously unseen pieces of music. This examination is worth 35% of the overall mark.

A Level

At AS and A2 level, the same modules and format of study is followed. Pupils will perform as a soloist, compose 1 piece of music within a free style and study pieces of music under 3 headings: Orchestral Music, Sacred Vocal Works and Secular Vocal Works.

The performance examination lasts between 5-8 minutes at AS and 8-10 minutes at A2 level. There is a reflective discussion regarding the programme performed with the visiting examiner after the performance also.

At AS, the composition should last between 1.5-2.5 minutes and between 2-3 minutes at A2. An accompanying commentary must also be submitted with the piece of music consisting of 1000 and 1200 words at AS and A2 levels, respectively.

There are 2 examinations in AS and A2. The first is listening and tests aural perception on pieces of music previously studied and those that are unfamiliar to the candidates. The second examination is written and contains four questions: score analysis on an orchestral set work, a score analysis question previously unseen score and two extended writing questions on vocal set works.

Speak to either member of the Music Department if you require any further information.

Experiencing such a wide range of skills within Music allows for a wide scope of careers to be accessed. Students from The Royal School, Armagh, who have studied Music at A-Level have gone on to study Law, Medicine and Business-related courses. Choosing Music as a contrasting subject for A-Level sets you apart from other candidates and reflects your diverse interests and skills.

More specifically related to Music, there are career opportunities in performance, composition, broadcasting, education, sound design and engineering as well as arts management and music therapy.

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Department Blog Posts

2408, 2021

Excellent Results at RSA

By |August 24th, 2021|Categories: Agriculture, Announcements, Art & Design, Biology, Business Studies, Chemistry, Computing, Engineering, English, Geography, Government & Politics, Health & Social Care, History, Home Economics, Mathematics, Modern Foreign Languages, Moving Image Art, Music, News, Physical Education, Physics, Psychology, Religious Studies, Science, Sociology, Spanish, Technology & Design, Theatre Studies, Travel & Tourism|0 Comments

Excellent Results at RSA The wait finally ended for pupils of The Royal School, Armagh as they collected their A Level and their GCSE results on Tuesday 10 and [...]


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