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Coronavirus Updates

Further information about how our Trust and schools are taking necessary precautions since the outbreak of the Coronavirus, can be found in our Trust’s ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19) website section’.

For responses to our National Writing Day #247challenge, please see here.

Students joining us in Year 12 September 2020: please see a page of resources for you here. 

Update 11.06.20: For an update about remote learning, to Years 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12, please see here.

Update 08.06.20: Year 10 and 12 parents and carers, please see the letter that has been sent out with your student’s bubbles. For FAQs, please see here.

Live Learning Timetables: Please see here for live learning timetables for this term for Years 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12.

For any key worker whose child is not currently using our childcare facility, and who subsequently becomes unable to provide childcare at home –  you must give the school 24 hours’ notice that you need to use this provision so that we can provide appropriate staffing. This means emailing or calling 03333 602130 by 9am the day before. For Monday provision, please ensure that you contact the school by 9am on the preceding Friday.  Students arriving without giving 24 hours’ notice may be turned away if we do not have adequate staffing. To access this provision, you must also have downloaded and completed the form that can be found here and you must bring it with you to the school when you arrive.

You can access Holcombe Grammar School’s COVID-19 latest update and archived letters for the whole school and year groups, including links to resources at


Key Stage 3


Subject Overview:

Music is not only an international language, with cultural and historical significance leading right back to early human civilisation, it is also a means of communal and self-expression; giving us the ability to explore ourselves and the world around us in a unique and powerful way.

Students will develop musical understanding and skills in class through: Listening to and appraising a rich variety of music from a wide range of genres and eras; performing music on instruments and by using their voices (on their own and as part of an ensemble) and through the composition of their own music, acoustically or through the use of appropriate music technologies; both in response to a specific stimuli or brief and as a creative exploration of their own concepts and ideas.

Skills developed through the study of this subject are not only scientifically proven  to develop cognitive processing and problem solving, as well as memory and information recall, but also help with emotional, interpersonal and creative development and expression. This qualification directly supports the future study of Music, Music Technology and/or other Performing Arts Subjects in Further and Higher Education, as well as providing the skills and confidence useful when applying to a wide variety of courses from Law to Medicine, Media Studies to Journalism. Careers related to, or part of, the music industry are as equally varied; from music producers to sound engineers, entertainment attorneys in law to speech pathologists and music therapists, there are music related careers in every sector.

There are 3 ways progress in Music is assessed from KS3 – KS5:

Listening & Appraising – where they will be graded on:

  • Analytical and evaluative skills (using relevant information regarding the set work or unfamiliar listening piece)
  • Depth of knowledge of key musical features and elements (again relevant to the set work or unfamiliar piece)
  • Accurate use of appropriate musical vocabulary (linking this vocabulary to the correct musical elements)
  • Convincing writing skills (clarity, organisation, spelling, punctuation and grammar)

Performance (Solo/Ensemble) – where they will be graded on:

  • Technical control and handling of the sonority (voice and/or Instrumental)
  • Style & expression (tempo, dynamics, phrasing, articulation and communication)
  • Accuracy & fluency (playing/singing notes correctly & coherently)
  • Ensemble skills (contributing effectively in a group)

Composition (Free/Set Brief) – where they will be graded on:

  • Developing musical ideas (successful development and extension of imaginative musical ideas and handling of stylistic characteristics and conventions)
  • Technical control (handling and exploitation of instrumental/vocal forces and musical elements, as well as textural contrast)
  • Musical coherence (creating a sense of wholeness and direction through ensuring fluency and contrast between sections)

In addition to class music lessons, there are many other ways music is embedded into expressions and celebrations of school life, such as assemblies, award events and Founders’ Day which are enhanced by musical performances. There are countless ways in which students can participate in music activities beyond the classroom: Vocal and instrumental tuition are available to students in all years; a wide range of extra-curricular musical activities (choirs, instrumental groups and workshops) take place each week which are open to all students and staff; there are numerous opportunities for students to perform in concerts, recitals, services and events, as well as school based competitions to celebrate and promote young talents within in school, and in the local community.In Key Stage 3 students will develop and reinforce their musical understanding and practical skills. They will do this by listening and appraising, composing and performing music using their voices, instruments and music technology (from basic concepts such as Rhythm and Notation at the beginning of year 7 to creating their own musicals and sharing their musical inspirations in Year 8) in order to strengthen their creative ability, self-confidence and self-expression. The course at KS3 will also give students a chance to explore all of the Ares of Study covered in the GCSE Music course in order for them to gain a good perspective of what studying the course will be like, and to best prepare those that choose to continue studying the subject by providing them with a good breadth of knowledge to expand upon in KS4.

Year 7 Curriculum Content:

In year 7 they will have two one-hour lessons every fortnight where they will listen to, compose, and perform music in an amazing variety of styles.

Autumn Term – Musical Elements & Notation

Term 1 – ‘Rhythms & Notation – Group Singing

This term, it’s all about rhythm and notation. You will learn how to read and write rhythms using music notation. You will also learn how to develop rhythms using dynamics and tempo. You will then combine these skills with the song ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ to learn to sing and perform as part of a group. You will need to discover the notes to this well-known song to notate them, then combine together to perform as an ensemble.

Term 2 – Christmas Jingle Competition

This term, it’s all about melody & tonality. They will continue to use the excellent rhythmic skills developed last term, and add these to new theory skills including; semitones, tones, intervals, major and minor scales. They will learn how to read and write melodies using music notation, and will then use these skills to compose their own ‘Christmas Jingle’, after gaining some inspiration from listening to some fantastic examples by other composers.

Spring Term – AoS 1: Instrumental Music 1700-1820

Term 3 – Western Classical Music & Instruments of the Orchestra

This term, it’s all about sonority (timbre/instrumentation) and texture. They will explore the rich diversity of music from the baroque, classical and romantic eras; studying music from some of the most famous composers of all time, including Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Vivaldi & Bach. They will also learn about the different instruments of the orchestra and will have a chance to have a go on a few, as well as see demonstrations from some of our peripatetic staff. They will then get to choose a piece of music from one of these eras and learn it for a performance.

Term 4 – Programme/Art Music Composition Project

This term, they will learn how the musical elements they have studied so far (dynamics, rhythm & notation, melody, instrumentation (timbre), texture, tempo & tonality) work together to tell a musical story. Many composers have used stories, art, and landscapes to inspire their music – this is called Programme Music – and we will investigate famous examples such as Grieg’s “In the hall of the Mountain King”, Disney’s “Fantasia”, Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” and Holst’s “Planets”. They will then create their own piece of Programme Music to tell a musical story.

Summer Term – AoS 2: Vocal Music

Term 5 – Pop Ballads 60’s – Current Day

This term, it’s all about structure & harmony. They will explore a range of pop music from the 60’s – current day and discover how pop music has developed using  distinctive chord sequence structures, vocal harmonies, simple melodies and cleaver lyrics to keep audiences wanting more. They will then get into mini pop bands to perform one of a selection of pieces they will study.

Term 6 – Songwriting Project

This term, we will put all of the musical skills they have developed so far to the test. They will combine all of the musical elements they have studied (dynamics, rhythm & notation, structure, melody, instrumentation (sonority/timbre), texture, tempo, tonality and harmony) to create their own chart song.

Year 8 Curriculum Content:

In year 8 they will continue to have two one-hour lessons every fortnight where they will listen, compose, and perform music in an amazing variety of styles.

Autumn Term – AoS 3: Music for Stage & Screen

Term 1 – Musicals Project

This term, we will combine all of the elements of music that they studied in Year 7 (DR SMITH) to the genre of the musical. They will study a variety of styles of stage musicals (from Opera & early Operettas, to modern blockbuster West end musicals) and will then use this knowledge and the skills they have developed to compose their own song for a musical, including plot line, script and set design/props. They will then perform their song, paying careful attention to all of the aspects of a successful musical.

Term 2 – Music in the Media: Film & TV

This term, we aim to explore the variety of ways in which music is used alongside the moving image and in the media industry. After gaining inspiration from music for advertisements, TV, and film, they will develop their composing and performing skills to create their own work to a media storyboard.

Spring Term – AoS 4: Fusions & World Music

Term 3 – African Drumming

This term, we will explore rhythm cycles within African drumming. We will then look at the cultural and historical importance of these rhythms and try out our drumming technique! The final performance is a group performance using the African Drumming rhythms they have learnt.

Term 4 – Blues Music & Afro-Cuban Jazz

This term, it’s all about developing their understanding of harmony and structure. They will learn how harmony is created by layering notes into blues & jazz chords and the structures that composers and performers use to create their songs. After gaining inspiration from listening to great Blues and Afro-Cuban Jazz pieces, they will develop their composing and performing skills to create their own Blues song or perform their own Jazz improvisation.

Summer Term – My Music Holcombe Horizons Project

Term 5 – Holcombe Horizons Solo/Ensemble Inspired Performance

In Holcombe Horizons Inspired Performance we aim to explore the variety of ways in which artists make their mark on the music industry, and express their own look to the future ‘Horizons’ of musical output. After gaining inspiration from singer-songwriters, composers for instruments, and writers of dance and electronic Music, they will specialise in one of these areas to arrange and perform their own cover song either as a solo performance, or as part of a group/ensemble. What will this year’s “Holcombe Horizons” discover?

Term 6 – Holcombe Horizons Inspired Composition

In their final Key Stage 3 project, they will have the chance to demonstrate their understanding of all the musical elements studied over the past two years. They will explore the variety of ways in which music can be made their own – building upon the skills from last term’s Solo/Ensemble performance project. They will then choose one of the following options: Vocal Music (singer songwriter), Instrumental Music (both classical and modern) and Electronic Dance Music. They will then compose their own 3 minute piece of music either as a solo or group project. GCSE students will also get the opportunity to present a solo performance piece on their 1st instrument/voice as well as attend the end of year recital evening with the other GCSE students.

Please see a full course overview of the subject here.