Don Valley Music Department believes all students can achieve a degree of success in music. Students have the right to study in a positive, creative and friendly environment and we strive to achieve this in our classrooms at all times. Every student can share in the enjoyment and satisfaction of music in its various forms through progressively developing their skills in the fundamental aspects of performing, composing, listening and appraising, with an emphasis on music making. Through music education we believe students can develop self-confidence,co-operation and social skills as well as develop creativity and sensitivity.

Don Valley Music Department believes in equal opportunities for all and therefore offers free instrumental lessons to all students who opt to study Music at Keystage 4 (Years 9, 10 and 11). Instrumental lessons are also offered to all other students at a cost of £5.17 a week and are subsidised for Pupil Premium students.   Currently students can study drums, voice, saxophone, clarinet, flute, trumpet, trombone, euphonium, keyboard, piano, bass guitar, electric guitar and classical guitar.

The Music Department offers a wide variety of weekly extra-curricular activities which anyone can attend: Don Valley Vocals, swing band, theory club, soul band, GCSE study club, Year 7 samba drumming, keystage 3 keyboard club and a music technology club.

The Keystage 3 programme of Study is comprised of topic based schemes of work. The emphasis is on practical music making using keyboards, drums, the voice and music technology. It provides a continuous and progressive education.

Year 7

1960’s music and the voice

Staff notation with basic keyboard skills

Rhythm and the drum kit

Music technology using Mixcraft – composing a ringtone

Ensemble performance – Band Skills

Year 8

1970’s music and singing

Chords and Reggae – Band Skills

Song writing

Chromaticism, Fur Elise, keyboard skills

Music technology, Cartoon and film


Keystage 4

Year 11


Students study the AQA syllabus in Year 11. Students are required to perform a solo, perform in a group, compose 2 pieces of music and answer a variety of questions when listening to music.

They study 3 strands of music:

Popular Music of the 20th & 21st centuries

Popular music of the 1960s
Rock music, R’n’B (Rhythm and Bass), Hip-Hop
Music Theatre
Film music

World Music

Music of the Caribbean
Music of Africa
Music of India

The Western Classical Tradition

Baroque orchestral music
The concerto
Music for voices
The sonata


New Specification

Component 1: Understanding music - 40% of GCSE marks (96 marks)

What's assessed- The exam is 1 hour and 30 minutes.


Contextual understanding

How it's assessed

Exam paper with listening exercises and written questions using excerpts of music.


Section A: Listening – unfamiliar music (68 marks)

Section B: Study pieces (28 marks)

Component 2: Performing music - 30% of GCSE marks (72 marks).

What's assessed

Music performance

How it's assessed

As an instrumentalist and/or vocalist and/or via technology:

Performance 1: Solo performance (36 marks)

Performance 2: Ensemble performance (36 marks).

A minimum of four minutes of performance in total is required, of which a minimum of one minute must be the ensemble performance.

 Component 3:Composing music - 30% of GCSE marks (72 marks).

What's assessed


How it's assessed

  • Composition 1: Composition to a brief (36 marks)
  • Composition 2: Free composition (36 marks)

A minimum of three minutes of music in total is required.


Year 9

RSL Music Practitioner



RockSchool Level 2 Certificate in Performance for Music Practitioners

What will I study? 

You will learn how to perform effectively on your chosen instrument or voice by setting yourself targets for improvement.  You will rehearse a variety of songs in different styles chosen to develop your overall musicianship, continually evaluating your progress along the way. 

How will I be assessed?

There are 3 assessment units:

You will be assessed according to the RockSchool grading criteria and can achieve a Pass, Merit or Distinction.  You must complete a minimum of 20 credits of work.

Unit 229

 Music Rehearsal Skills

Rehearsing songs as a group, setting and reviewing targets for improvement

8 credits

Unit 208

Musical Style Development

Research and develop understanding of a chosen genre of music

4 credits

Unit 230

Live Music Performance

Controlled assessment – you will have 30 hours to rehearse for a 15 minute performance in Y10.  This unit is externally assessed.

8 credits