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“There is music in the air, music all around us; the world is full of it, and you simply 
take as much as you require.” – Elgar

The Music Department at Malvern St James aims to foster an interest and love of music in all girls: 

  • Through the provision of high quality teaching throughout the curriculum
  • By offering a diverse range of ensembles and choirs in order to develop the musical potential of all girls to the highest level
  • By giving all girls opportunities to perform within and outside of the school community
  • Through the inspiration of live performances given by the finest ensembles and soloists from around the UK and Europe in renowned local and regional concert venues

“I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music, 
for in the patterns of music and all the arts are the keys of learning” - Plato

Academic Music

Weekly hour-long Music lessons are delivered to all girls in Years 1 – 9.  Lessons typically focus on practical music making through singing and instrumental performance, whilst developing theory skills through composition work and regularly appraising music through listening exercises. 

In Years 3, 5 and 7, an Instrumental Scheme for one whole term during the year gives all girls the opportunity to learn an orchestral instrument. The School supplies all instruments and accessories at no extra cost and at the end of the scheme girls and parents can make an informed decision about continuing with individual instrumental lessons with our Visiting Music Teachers.

Music Technology is an integral part of the MSJ Music Curriculum and in the Prep Department all girls are given the opportunity to explore the elements of music and composition using Music Tools and Groovy Music software.  At Key Stage 3 girls are introduced to Sibelius, GarageBand and Logic music software to explore and enhance their composition skills within a variety of genres.

At Key Stage Three performing, composing, listening and appraising are all explored through the Music Department’s own workbook, designed by staff to specifically cater for the full range of girls’ abilities in Years 7– 9.  

Topics include:

  • Year 7: Instruments of the Orchestra, Fanfare, Graphic Score, Scary music, Major and Minor, Notation and the Elements of Music.
  • Year 8: Blues, Nationalism and Folk Music, Musical Theatre, Dance and Salsa, Japanese and Indonesian music.
  • Year 9: Baroque, Classical and Romantic Music, Impressionism and Expressionism, Minimalism, and Pop.

GCSE Music 

The Year 9 workbook is specifically designed to prepare girls for study in GCSE Music (Edexcel), which splits into three core areas: 

  • Performance (one ensemble and one solo recording);  
  • Composition (one own choice and one based on an Area of Study);  
  • Listening (one exam at the end of Year 11, testing knowledge of twelve set works studied over both years).  

To assist with aural, listening, performance skills and preparation, all girls are expected to participate in at least one choir and one ensemble for the duration of the GCSE course.

GCSE and A Level Musicians have access to their own private study room in Avenue House equipped with listening stations and an extensive collection of CDs and miniatures scores for wider listening. 

A specific outline of the GCSE course can be found on the Edexcel website 

A Level Music

Girls can pursue Music at AS and A2 Level using the Edexcel syllabus, which provides an excellent foundation for girls who wish to read music at university.  

The AS units alone, however, offer a broad and satisfying experience for those who choose to study music for only the first year of Sixth Form.  Girls develop high level performance skills, explore new approaches to composition and investigate stylistic harmony in depth.  They also accrue sophisticated aural and analytical skills by studying selections from the New Anthology of Music and through wider listening.  

GCSE and A Level Musicians have access to their own private study room equipped with listening stations and an extensive collection of CDs and miniatures scores for wider listening. 

Facilities and resources

The Music Department is located in Avenue House, a former boarding house, and contains excellent teaching facilities and outstanding resources; it is one of the best-resourced School Music Departments in the West Midlands.  The Department is fortunate in being able to accommodate 17 practice rooms, 2 academic classrooms, 4 staff offices, a GCSE and A Level Girls’ listening and study room, a brand new suite of PCs equipped with Sibelius 6 software, 2 instrument storerooms, a music library, a Percussion Suite, a large Rehearsal Room, and 3 resource storerooms!  

The Department can boast containing:

  • 26 upright pianos, 
  • 2 Yamaha C5 grand pianos (3 more in the main school building including a 
  • C7), 
  • an antique Square Piano by D’Almaine Gould Potter, c.1806, 
  • a modern and antique spinet, 
  • a large stock of string, brass and woodwind instruments and accessories 
  • concert and lever harps
  • a large Rehearsal Room and Percussion Suite housing an extensive 
  • collection of orchestral and world percussion instruments including 4 timpani drums, bass drum, glockenspiel, marimba, xylophone, cymbals, tam tam
  • 3 drum kits, 2 sets of bongos and a large collection of classroom percussion.  

The spacious and well-equipped Rehearsal Room is in much demand and the Department often accommodates local ensembles who request evening rehearsals there.

Staff and students enjoy access to an extensive collection of choral, orchestral and chamber music scores and parts, and a large academic library of reference books, biographies and textbooks, including two complete sets of Grove Dictionaries.  The Music Library and CD collections are constantly being reviewed and updated.