Creating fully rounded individuals with an appreciation for the arts and a passion for music.
Whether learning within the classroom, taking part in one-to-one individual tuition or music-making as part of an ensemble or choir, our Music Department emphasise the key messages of commitment and enjoyment amongst learners.
Studying music promotes confidence and self awareness. Pupils work on their own, displaying self-discipline and motivation to maintain excellent standards of musicality through rehearsal, or with others as part of a larger ensemble, learning the importance of collective responsibility.
Our pupils participate in a wide breadth of in-school extra-curricular musical ensembles, relishing the opportunity to perform regularly, integral to the development of all young musicians. Pupils are encouraged to join our choral and musical ensembles, with regular lunchtime or after school rehearsals simply becoming a standard part of their day-to-day school lives. This fosters enjoyment and dedication amongst our musicians, as well as consolidating and enhancing in-class learning. The department also arranges regular excursions to live music events, allowing pupils to soak in professional performances, from classical concerts to all-singing, all-dancing musicals.
Many of our musicians perform as instrumentalists or vocalists in acclaimed national ensembles such as the National Youth Choirs of Scotland (NYCOS) and the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland (NYOS) and Great Britain, while our school musical ensembles are nationally recognised, our Chamber Choir and Pipe Band having won national and UK-wide prizes in recent years.
Curricular music, at all levels, is centred on practical experience and creativity, coupled with an expectation of all pupils to develop acute listening skills and a solid understanding of music literacy.
Pupils participate in two lessons per week from Transitus to Second Year and have access to a keyboard, ukulele, classical guitar and percussion instruments to engender passion for music-making.
In Transitus, pupils learn basic theory, composition and listening skills, as well as practicing singing and instrument skills. We work with Scottish Opera to organise the learning and performing of an opera in a single day!
First Year learning focusses on traditional Scottish music, world music styles, musicals and music in the media, while Second Year looks at popular music styles including jazz, rock n' roll and pop, and the study of film compositions and scores.
Our results are consistently outstanding at National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher level, with a significant number of our pupils pursuing the study of Music to university and music college level, and many going on to have highly successful careers as professional musicians.
The National 5 Music course provides pupils with a wide range of experiences in listening, composing and performing. Candidates require a minimum performing standard of Grade III (though many pupils start at a higher level than this), should be able to read music competently and understand basic musical theory. Creativity and originality are encouraged across all areas of the subject, with a desire to perform an essential requirement for committing to the course. All pupils take part in solo and group performance activities, using both instruments and voice.
Throughout the course, pupils develop an understanding of a range of musical concepts, consider social and cultural influences on music and study the development of musical styles from throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Learners should be open-minded when listening to music, able to appreciate a variety of styles beyond their own particular favourites.
Alongside a written paper that displays an understanding of music theory, pupils' final grades come courtesy of an externally-assessed performance of a suitable musical programme and the composition of a short piece of music, with candidates expected to review this piece and highlight key decisions made throughout the writing process.
Our Higher Music course acts as a vital step for those aspiring to become professional musicians, as well as challenging those who wish to pursue a serious interest in music as part of a more general education. Candidates should be at a minimum performing standard of Grade IV on two instruments (or one instrument and voice) and commit to regular practice. They should also have a solid understanding of music literacy, as well as good aural skills and an 'open-ear', listening to a variety of musical styles.
Pupils develop their skillsets in the areas of 'Performance', 'Understanding Music (Listening)', and 'Composing', with the overall course award decided via an externally assessed practical exam, an original composition piece and a timed listening examination that touches upon developments in musical history and the social implications of the development of specific musical styles.
For the practical assessment, pupils perform a minimum of two contrasting pieces of music on their two selected instruments (or instrument and voice), with marks awarded for melodic and rhythmic accuracy, tempo and fluency in performance and the demonstration of musicality through mood and character of tone.
Higher candidates are also given the option of completing an ABRSM Grade 5 Theory course, culminating in an external exam and, if successful, an extra qualification. This course complements the literacy element of Higher Music, providing even greater depth to pupils' knowledge and understanding of music theory.
Following on form our Higher offering, the Advanced Higher Music course is designed primarily to serve the needs of those who intend to study Music as an academic or practical subject at university or music college, but can also be taken by those with a keen interest and commitment to music as part of a general, liberal education.
Advanced Higher candidates must have a minimum performing standard of Grade V on both instruments (or one instrument and voice), with dedication to practice and rehearsal absolutely essential at this stage. A good understanding of music literacy and theory, as well as excellent aural skills are also crucial. Further developing skills in performance and composition of music, as well as increasing candidates' skillset in understanding and analysing music, Advanced Higher pupils take in a variety of different styles of music, judging them with a critical ear.
The practical element of the course, assessed by an external SQA examiner, requires candidates to perform a programme of music to a minimum of Grade V standard, while a listening paper assesses pupils' understanding of music theory and history, from 15th century Renaissance song to modern day electronic dance music. An assessed original composition with critical reflection on the writing process, and and in-depth analysis of the work of another composer also contribute towards candidates' final grades.
One third of the entire Senior School population participate in instrumental or vocal lessons during the course of each school day.
Our dedicated team of full-time and visiting specialist tutors work with budding musicians to develop skills in a wide variety of instruments, including all traditional Scottish musical instruments. Watch our video to find out more about our specialist tuition and click below to explore more about our extra-curricular creative arts offering.