The Staff Team

Mr Brown joined the school as Head of Music in September 2017 having spent ten years teaching in Norfolk.  He is an organist, choral singer and recent learner of trombone and tuba and is a qualified coach driver.

Miss Johnston joined the school in 2001 and teaches KS3 music.  She is a flautist, clarinettist, pianist and singer and enjoys sailing.    

There are also 13 peripatetic music teachers, both private and from the Oxfordshire County Music Service.  They cover the following instruments:  Piano, Singing, Trumpet, French Horn, Trombone, Tuba, Flute, Clarinet, Oboe, Bassoon, Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass and Drum kit/percussion.

Learning Spaces

The Music Department has one large teaching room (H2), which is also used for ensemble rehearsals.  The second teaching room (H1) is equipped with 15 computer workstations, especially useful to GCSE and A level students.  There are 6 practice rooms, each with a piano and music stands.  These are used by our team of peripatetic teachers, and for students completing group work activities during lessons.

The curriculum

Key Stage 3

During KS3, all students complete work in performing, composing and appraising.  These skills are developed and spread across many different styles and genres.

Year 7
Term 1 – Singing
Term 2 – Keyboards and notation
Term 3 – Advanced performance skills
Term 4 – Composition, form and structure
Term 5 – The elements of music, listening skills
Term 6 – Instruments of the orchestra, sound and colour

Year 8
Term 1 – Chords and Harmony
Term 2 – Composition, Carnival of the Animals
Term 3 – Periods of Music
Term 4 – African music
Term 5 – Jazz and Blues
Term 6 – Composition and performances

Year 9                                              
Term 1 – Latin Music                                      
Term 2 – Dance Music                                 
Term 3 – The Planets and composition    
Term 4 – Music for stage and screen
Term 5 – Free Performance

Key Stage 4 – GCSE

At Chipping Norton School students take the Edexcel examination for GCSE Music. This course aims to:

  • to enable students to engage actively in the process of music study, by developing performing skills individually and in groups to communicate musically with fluency.
  • to broaden students’ musical experience and interests, develop imagination and foster creativity.
  • to recognise contrasting genres, styles and traditions of music, and develop some awareness of musical chronology.
  • to engage with and appreciate the diverse heritage of music, in order to promote personal, social, intellectual and cultural development.
  • to develop broader life skills and attributes, including critical and creative thinking, aesthetic sensitivity, emotional awareness, cultural understanding, self-discipline, self-confidence and self-motivation.

Examination Board: Edexcel


Unit 1 – Performance    30%        (internally marked and externally moderated)

– One solo performance (can be multiple pieces of music)
– One ensemble performance (can be multiple pieces of music)
– The combined length of both performances must be at least 4 minutes.
– Scores or professional recordings for both performances
– The expected level of performance is Grade IV or equivalent

Unit 2 – Composing Music           30%        (internally marked and externally moderated)

– Two compositions
– One composition written to a brief set by the board
– One free composition
– Notated scores or written commentaries for both compositions/arrangements

Unit 3 – Listening and Appraising             40%        (externally marked)

There is only one exam paper for GCSE Music and this is taken at the end of Year 11. The paper has four areas of study and students cover 12 set works. These include music by composers such as Freddie Mercury, John Williams, Beethoven, and Steven Schwartz. Students study these works in detail and the examination tests their knowledge of these set works through shorts excerpts and essay type questions. There is also an analysis of unprepared listening, and aural dictation questions.Areas of study: Instrumental Music 1700-1820; Vocal Music; Music for Stage and Screen; Fusions.

Key Stage 5 – A level

At Chipping Norton School students take the Eduqas examination for A level Music. This course aims to provide a broad musical experience, and develop aural awareness, composition and performance skills.

There are three main components in the A level course, Performing, Composing and Listening and Appraising, some of which can be weighted differently.

Performance – Either 35% (Option A) or 25% (Option B)

This is a recital of pieces performed to a visiting external examiner in the second year of the course.  Pieces need to be of at least grade 6, with scores for the examiner to follow.  Timings are between 6-8 minutes for Option B, and 10-12 minutes for Option A. 

Composition – Either 25% (Option A) or 35% (Option B)

This is creating and developing music, some of which follow a brief set by the exam board.  There are three pieces to compose for Option B (8-10 minutes), or two for Option A (4-6 minutes). 

Listening and Appraising – 40%

Students study pieces from three Areas of Study.  The exam is 2 hours and 15 minutes, and divided into 3 parts.  Area A is two Symphonies by Hadyn and Mendelssohn.  Area C (from a choice of B,C,D) is Musical Theatre and a focus on six composers (Rodgers, Bernstein, Sondheim, Schonberg, Lloyd-Webber and Schwartz).  Area E (from a choice of E or F) is Music of the 20th Century, including pieces by Debussy and Poulenc.  These pieces are analysed and used in the exam, both from an aural and written perspective. 


The Music Department is often busy with rehearsals at lunch and after school.  The current rehearsal schedule is as follows.  

GCSE/A Level Catch-Up And Rehearsals 
Monday Lunch – H1 – 1:35-2pm

Choir (All Year Groups)
Tuesday Lunch – H2 – 1:35-2pm

Concert Band
Wednesday Lunch – H2 – 1:35-2pm

Brass Ensemble
Thursday Lunch – H2 – 1:40-2pm

Flute Ensemble
Friday Lunch – H2 – 1:40-2pm

GCSE/A Level Catch-Up And Rehearsals
Friday Lunch – H1 – 1:40-2pm