At St Paul’s School, we explore the complicated historical, technical and aesthetic strands that have given rise to today’s musical culture and allow this to inform our own performance and composition.
The Music curriculum follows a rigorous path to understanding the contexts surrounding the notes that we play and create, whether it is clarifying the structure of a symphonic work or studying the intricate rhythmic patterns of Indonesian gamelan to get a fresh perspective on Western Minimalism.
The IGCSE course complements all music-making through improving aural perception, enhancing historical and cultural awareness and increasing musical knowledge. For many, this is chance to explore world music in some depth for the first time or to see an original composition leap off the page in performance. A final written examination in the summer is complemented by a composition portfolio and two performance recordings. These coursework elements are compiled across the course.
Pupils in the Eighth Form (Year 12 and 13) may take an EPQ in Music (usually through the Dissertation or Performance routes). Project in the past couple of years have included a set of original songs inspired by the Beatles’ psychedelic period, two tracks created entirely from samples of other artists’ work, Stalin’s reaction to Shostakovich’s opera Lady Macbeth and a prog rock album inspired by Dark Side of the Moon. Classical composition projects have also been entered successfully as projects.
At A Level, we follow a parallel tripartite path through academic studies in Western Classical music (including unprepared listening, analysis and essay questions), composition (a range of creative briefs may be attempted as well as a free composition) and performance (which may include playing solo, playing in an ensemble or accompanying another musician, as well as a combination of any of these). Both composition and performance are examined as coursework submitted towards the end of the two-year course.
Creating informed musicians in the classroom has tremendous benefits on the wide and ambitious range of activities we can offer outside of it. There is always a real buzz around a St Paul’s School concert and the Music School is never silent during the school day.