Music at Townley Grammar School has an outstanding reputation. A large proportion of girls learn musical instruments and participate not only in school activities, but also in many of the borough ensembles and national orchestras and choirs.
All students enjoy classroom music lessons once a week at Key Stage 3, and may opt to take music at GCSE. A level Music and Music Technology courses are also offered, with students going on to pursue careers not only on music-related courses such as performance and music production, but also a variety of other fields including medicine, engineering, literature, mathematics and many more.
Music is a unique form of communication that can change the way we feel, think and act. Music forms part of our identity and positive interaction with music developing competence as a learner and increase one’s self-esteem. Music brings together intellect and feeling and enables personal expression, reflection and emotional development. As an integral part of culture, past and present, music helps us understand ourselves and relate to others.
Through the study of music from diverse times and places, we aim to provide students of all musical abilities with the opportunity to develop their core musical skills of performing, composing and listening in an environment which is enjoyable and stimulating. Girls are encouraged to nurture an understanding and respect for the way music works in all its various forms. They are required to work collaboratively as well as individually. They are challenged to rethink their perceptions and evaluate their preconceptions about music. They are taught to appraise their own work critically. It is our hope that the study of music will help the girls to unlock hidden musical talents and gain a greater appreciation and lifelong love of the subject.
The Director of Music leads a team of three music staff and eighteen visiting instrumental teachers in a purpose built Performing Arts block that encompasses a fine Theatre with a Blüthner grand piano, rehearsal spaces and Dance and Drama Studios, two classrooms (one housing the keyboard suite and one equipped with 15 Mac computers), a Logic-based recording studio with vocal booth, 7 practice rooms including a band room and a new Mac suite equipped with both Logic and Sibelius software. All of these facilities, including a comprehensive library of music, compact discs, and a selection of orchestral instruments and pianos are available to students at Townley.
All students in Years 7 to 9 are taught in classes no larger than 20 in size. This enables more group work and guarantees access to excellent facilities every lesson. Students are encouraged to bring their own instruments to Music lessons. They follow a classroom Curriculum in line with the National Curriculum recommendations.
Our pupils have the opportunity to study diverse styles of music from many different cultures and eras to gain a wide overall understanding of Music using traditional notation and music technology to support their learning. We teach interactively to give pupils the chance to discuss and perform to the class to not only vary different teaching styles but also to help build confidence. Music at Townley is an enjoyable and creative subject and helps build a platform for pupils to develop and explore different skills.
In the first term we cover basic theory including the names of the notes and rhythm (for gifted and talented pupils they are given more advanced theory), the orchestra and its instruments and we sing various songs to introduce the idea of practical music and developing vocal technique.
In the second term we look at African drumming to develop the idea of rhythm and diverse styles which includes ensemble work through creating a call and response rhythm composition.
In the third term pupils explore the music of the British Isles and learn about the keyboard to be able to play the Suffolk Morris with extension work on chords and accompaniment for the gifted and talented. There is also singing of folk songs which is of course an important skill.
In the fourth term pupils learn how to write a 2 part composition based on 3 bars of music using various techniques and written with notation. This is an excellent unit to develop many skills and for pupils to gain confidence in composition.
In the fifth term pupils explore a different form of notating/depicting music through graphic scores. Not only do they attempt to follow a graphic score to Beethoven’s ‘Egmont’ but they also create their own and perform it to the class. This is also the term where they have their year exam with revision.
In the sixth term pupils are involved with head girls’ day so we learn and perform some mass singing pieces. Also this term pupils get the opportunity to be involved in a 2 day workshop of music from different cultures. Last year was a Samba workshop with art, music and dance classes with a concert at the end of it all.
In the first term we study the Blues looking at chords and the 12 bar blues structure and pupils compose their own Blues songs learning various techniques to set words to music.
In the second term pupils learn how to sequence music using GarageBand software on the computers. They also begin to explore the Baroque period in music and sequence Pachelbel’s ‘Canon’.
In the third term pupils learn about the Classical period and Mozart and even how to conduct. The bulk of the term is in taken up by a composition task to write a Minuet which involves choosing chords and composing a melody to accompany them in the 3/4 time signature. The last lesson involves showing how the Minuet turned into the Waltz in the Romantic period including singing some popular Waltz tunes.
In the fourth term we explore different National Anthems and how the music is suitable for grand occasions. The pupils then create their own country and compose a National anthem for it to suit the place. They then make a flag, a dance and a national costume to go with their song and the best from each class goes through to a competition for their year group.
In the fifth term pupils look at how to create a ‘Sinister’ composition and consider the use of chromatics, the minor key and other techniques to make a piece sound sinister. This is also the term where they have their year exam with revision.
In the sixth term pupils learn about the Indonesian Gamelan and composing their own short piece using Glockenspiels, cymbals and drums to mimic a Gamelan and a chance to use the interactive Gamelan on the computers.
In the first term pupils learn about variations and how to vary a theme using different techniques and listening to various recordings. They then compose their own variations piece based on ‘Frère Jacques’.
In the second term we look at the differences between sacred and secular and look at various Christmas carols and songs. Pupils then compose their own Christmas song/carols using their own or school instruments and two chosen pieces are played in assembly.
In the third term we learn about Pop music and students learn how to write songs and get to record them in our recording studio.
In the fourth term pupils learn how to edit and produce their pop songs on some of the latest music editing software.
In the fifth term pupils learn about Reggae and Salsa and do various listening exercises on these styles. Pupils also compose their own Reggae songs and learn to play and improvise different Salsa rhythms.
In the sixth term we look at how music is used in film to heighten the action and events. Pupils then go on to compose a score to go with a video clip paying specific attention to timings and suitable sounds and background music.
Music is a highly respected subject in both the academic and working environments. This is because it is a broad subject and covers a whole range of skills such as aural perception, performing, self-discipline, composing, music appreciation and teamwork which are all highly desirable. If you are interested in studying Music or Music Technology at A level, GCSE music is a must.
Around 50 girls are currently taking GCSE Music at Townley. Students follow the Edexcel board syllabus which allows for considerable development of practical musicianship skills such as performance and composition. Pupils who opt for this course will already be learning at least one instrument or voice and should be prepared to continue their study throughout the duration of the course. In addition to the two practical components, the course also offers the chance to study a wide diversity of musical styles including World Music, Pop and Jazz, Musicals as well as Western Classical Music.
There are three components that make up the specification (each with the respective weighting shown):
The school offers a varied and high quality program of extra-curricular activities. There are several large and small concerts each year for the many groups on offer as well as regular European tours. It is highly beneficial to be involved in active music-making and helps considerably with the course.
In line with our Specialist School status, we offer wider opportunities for the development of Music Technology capability, in areas such as Midi sequencing, Recording and Mixing and Mastering. These aspects are incorporated within GCSE, preparing students well for the possibility of studying Music Technology at A level.
The Advanced GCE Music course is simple in design but comprehensive, stimulating and enriching. At both Advanced Subsidiary Levels (AS) and A2, students experience all three main musical disciplines of performing, composing and listening and understanding.
To take A Level Music you should have a minimum 6 in GCSE Music or above and a minimum performing standard of Grade 5 or equivalent on at least one instrument or voice. It should be noted that it will be difficult to achieve higher grades at A level if your performing level is below Grade 6 at the time of taking the examination.
Candidates will be required to attend an audition with the Director of Music.
You will develop performance skills (solo and/or ensemble), compose music and learn about harmony. You will build up aural and analytical skills by studying selections from the New Anthology of Music and wider listening.
The full GCE course (AS plus A2) is excellent preparation for higher education courses in music, but is equally valuable for non-specialists as a second or third area of study. The AS units alone can offer a broad and satisfying experience for those who want to conclude their musical studies at this point.
Music Technology provision at Townley Grammar School has been studied and emulated by training institutions both here in the United Kingdom and abroad, with training and links forged with universities in London and Sweden. Many of our students have gone on to study related courses at university, including Music Technology, Sound Engineering, Music for Media, Electronic Music Production, and Music Performance.
The Music Department has been awarded "Best Results by Girls taking Music Technology in a Grammar School" by the Good Schools' Guide at both AS and A2.
Townley Grammar School has some excellent resources for Music Technology. We have a recording studio running a 27-inch iMac computer with Logic Studio 9 and Pro Tools software, with a Mackie Onyx desk as the audio interface. The studio has an isolated recording booth and live room (as well as the control room) and is let out as a professional studio. A level Music Technology students will have access to these resources, and will use them to produce their coursework.
Through the Performing Arts status, we also have access to a sound room in the theatre fitted with a 32-track Behringer/MIDAS digital mixing desk and a computer-based multi-track recorder. The school has a wide selection of SE, Shure, Sennheiser and AKG microphones. The computer room in the Music department is a Mac suite running Sibelius 6 and Logic Studio 9, and there are also 2 specialist computer rooms both running Sibelius software.
To take AS Music Technology, you should have a GCSE pass at 6 or above in Music, although with good musical aptitude a GCSE in Music may not be necessary. Although no performing is required in the AS course, an understanding of musical notation and the ability to play a keyboard instrument are essential.
Successful candidates will be asked to audition.
You will develop skills in recording and producing music using computer editing techniques. You will also learn how to use a mixing desk and various types of microphone, microphone placement and other methods of capturing sound. This course has a large practical element and you will be expected to have a hands-on approach and use recording equipment from the outset.
The majority of music that is produced today is brought to the listener through the use of technology. This new course is aimed equally at musicians who wish to use technology to realise traditional music as well as those who wish to exploit its potential for creating new music. There are a variety of new and exciting University courses in Music Technology, ranging from programming new music software and acoustic design to writing music for TV and Film. The scope of careers open to music technology graduates is vast and varied. Some go into broadcasting, film and TV work, production, advertising, research, general media activities and entry to every level of pop and classical music.
You will learn about and use a variety of music and music technology skills in order to complete this unit. MIDI sequencing and multi-track recording as well as arranging skills are all key components assessed through the practical work carried out. Students must complete three tasks which together make the Music Technology Portfolio:
You will study the development of popular music styles from 1910 through to the present day. This is not intended to be a comprehensive and in-depth study of every popular, jazz, or rock music style, but is an overview of the main styles and trends during the development of popular music. This will be assessed in a 1 hour 45 minute examination in the Summer Term.
There are many groups you can join at Townley if you want to perform Music:
Mondays, 1:10pm in the Theatre
This choir is open to anyone who wants to sing in Years 7&8. There is no audition. They perform a wide variety of Music and sing at all major school Concerts including the Carol Service in Christ Church. There are regular trips, and in 2015 we are planning a trip to Paris to sing on a professional public stage in Disneyland.
Tuesdays, 1:10pm in M1
This is open to anyone in Years 7, 8 and 9 who plays an orchestral instrument. They play a variety of music and perform in major school concerts.
Tuesdays, 3:40pm in the Drama Studio
Symphony Orchestra is open to all students from grade 5 or Year 9 upwards. This is made up of students from the school and has performed music including Mozart Symphonies and Tchaikovsky’s ‘Nutcracker Suite’.
Thursdays, 1:10pm in M1
Swing ‘n’ Soul Band is the senior contemporary instrumental ensemble at Townley. It is for more advanced wind, brass and “rhythm section” instrumentalists with an interest in swing, jazz, soul and pop repertoire. In the past year, Swing ‘n’ Soul have toured to Germany and have also performed at many local musical events and venues including Danson Festival, Dartford’s Orchard Theatre and the Marriott Hotel.
Fridays, 1:10pm in the Theatre
The Senior Choir is a large group who meet on Tuesday lunchtimes and is open to all students from Year 10 upwards. This year they will be touring around Lake Garda in Italy.
Wednesdays, 1:10pm in M1
Schola Cantorum is an auditioned choral group who perform music of a more demanding nature.
Monddays, 3:40pm in M2
Contemporary Choir is student-led and perform more contemporary music and Gospel music. .
Wednesdays, 3:40pm in M2
Our fun ukulele ensemble is open to all students. You do not require any experience to join and instruments are provided. Our Junior and Senior Ukuladies have performed at many concerts and events (including Danson Festival), and our Ukuladies have also been involved in bringing music to a wider audience through work in local primary schools.
Many students rehearse rock or jazz bands in extra-curricular clubs. Chamber ensembles can also be arranged for groups when required.
The school also stages regular musicals with an outstanding reputation, in partnership with the Drama and Dance departments. These are open to all in the upper school, lower school or both (depending on the show in question), and students are invited to audition.
Previous musical productions have included 'Jesus Christ Superstar', 'Hairspray', 'Oliver!', and 'Bugsy Malone'.
Our whole-school production for 2015 is 'Annie'.
Townley runs many choirs and ensembles catering for a wide variety of musical styles and instruments every day.
In recent years these have included:
As well as the many school events, professional recitals regularly take place at Townley Grammar School. This year has seen the first recital on our new Blüthner Grand Piano by the Old Bexley Music Society (hyperlink) featuring the pianist Marcus Andrews. (www.marcusandrews.com).
The contemporary music group Avenue A (http://www.avenue-a.co.uk/Home.html) has close links with the school and has run A level composing workshops and performed student compositions. The ensemble’s programs appeal to a wide variety of musical sensibilities including jazz, contemporary classical, alternative and others.
We also have close links with Bird College (the local music providing service) and our facilities are used for many of their concerts and rehearsals.
Each year we undertake large-scale choral works. These have included Handel’s Messiah in the Blackheath Concert Halls, Rutter’s Mass for the Children in Rochester Cathedral, Schubert’s Mass in G and massed choral concerts at Blackheath Halls culminating in Borodin’s Polotsvian Dances and Verdi opera choruses. (link to recordings).
The annual Carol Service features all of the school choirs and is held in Christ Church, Bexleyheath. This year it will take place on Thursday 18th December 2014.
Regular recitals are given by A-level students at Christ Church, Bexleyheath.
This year the will be on Wednesday 5th November 2014 at 1pm.
Townley's team of experienced professional peripatetic teachers offer one-to-one lessons on a wide variety of musical instruments, from piano to orchestral instruments to rock and pop instruments.
Click on the link below to find out more about lessons and download an application form, which should be filled out and returned to the Music Department.
Christmas concert rehearsal letters are available below:
The Assisted Instrument Purchase Scheme (AIPS) is accessible to students taking one-to-one instrumental music lessons at Townley Grammar School, and allows parents to purchase instruments for their daughter without having to pay VAT.
Click below for more information and to download an application form, which may be filled in and returned to the Music Department accompanied by a cheque. Students and parents should discuss this first with their instrumental teacher and then the Music Department before appying..
The Community Choir is open to anyone with a connection to Townley Grammar School, and includes current and former staff and students, parents and grandparents, peripatetic teachers and friends. There is no audition to join, and previous experience is not required.
Rehearsals take place every Thursday evening during term-time from 7:30pm in Music Room 1 - come along and join us!