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

For more information about learning an instrument at Chipping Norton School, please contact The Music Department.

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 10 new computer workstations equipped with Sibelius, 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 – Notation and keyboard skills
Term 2 – Danse Macabre and Performance skills
Term 3 – Advanced performance and The elements of music
Term 4 – Composition, form and structure
Term 5 – Instruments of the orchestra
Term 6  – Sound and colour, extended performance skills

Year 8
Term 1 – Chords and Harmony, performance and composition
Term 2 – Carnival of the Animals, listening and composition
Term 3 –African Drumming, composition and performance
Term 4 – Periods of Music 1450-1900 and performance 
Term 5 – Composition techniques and performance
Term 6 – Periods of Music 1901-present, and composition

Year 9                                              
Term 1 – The Planets, listening and composition
Term 2 – Jazz and Blues, performance and listening                                
Term 3 – Music for stage and screen, and performance
Term 4 – Structure and Form, with composition
Term 5 – General listening skills, extended musical writing

Key Stage 4 

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.  

Monday Lunch – H2 – 1:40-2:10pm

Flute Ensemble

Tuesday Lunch – H2 – 1:40-2:10pm

Choir (All year groups)

Wednesday Lunch – H2 – 1:40-2:10pm

Concert Band

Thursday Lunch – H2 – 1:40-2:10pm

Brass Ensemble

Friday Lunch – H2 – 1:40-2:10pm

GCSE/A level catch-up and rehearsals