Director of Music

Mr Michael Barker

Teaching Staff

Mrs E Morpeth [maternity leave]

Miss Emily Taylor [maternity cover]

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The music department exists primarily to provide an outstanding academic music education to students. Secondly, it exists to provide an inclusive, varied and aspirational extra curricular music programme across the whole school. Through these provisions students have the opportunity to develop musically, socially and academically in a welcoming and inclusive environment.

The department’s dedicated building provides specialised rehearsal spaces for a variety of musical ensembles and a fully equipped recording studio. Using the latest technology and software, students can learn recording, arranging and composing skills.

Summary of Subject Content

Lower School (KS3)

Students undertake a balanced programme of activities that allows all to succeed. As part of their studies, all students will have the chance to play instruments and sing regularly. They will listen to a wide array of musical styles and compose and perform music relating to their current topic.

There is a wide range of musical material, recordings, computers, instruments and recording equipment available to enable pupils to build upon their own interests, abilities and tastes in music whilst encouraging them to discover new fields of music.

At KS3 all student have two 40-minute lessons every week.


Music is a subject in which students’ ability varies quite significantly. As such all KS3 classes are not set but taught in form groups and tasks are differentiated accordingly.

Upper School (KS4/GCSE)

OCR J536

GCSE builds on the three core areas of listening, composing and performing. Students build on their theoretical knowledge through the study of following styles:

Film Music

The Concerto

World Music

Popular Music

Student will compose two pieces, one to a brief set by the exam board and one set by the student. Students have access to composition software and may compose in a broad variety of styles. Students will also make two recorded performances, one as a solo and the other within an ensemble. Students can perform on any approved instrument (including turntabling and beatboxing). Students should be working on at least grade 3(ABRSM) or equivalent at the start of the course.

Sixth Form (AS/A2 Level)

A level Music

Music is a multi-disciplinary subject. It teaches and develops a wide range of skills that are essential within and beyond the subject; analysis, logic, source evaluation, critical analysis. It builds confidence in public presentations develops and enhances communication skills, verbally and in the written and notated form. Studying music is a celebration of and gives understanding to some of humankinds greatest achievements in the arts

AS (OCR H143)

Performance 30% externally assessed

A recital of contrasting music lasting 8 minutes

Composition (2 compositions) 30% externally assessed

2 compositions; 1 in response to a brief set by the board and one free composition

Listening and Analysis (Exam) 40%

Studying 2 set works, one classical and one jazz with an additional work chosen from a list provided by the board

A level (OCR H543)

Students can chose either a composition or a performance pathway. This will change the weighting of the units accordingly

Composition Pathway

Composition 35%

Performance 25%

Analysis 40%

Performance Pathway

Performance 35%

Composition 25%

Analysis 40

[Link to Specification

What the Students say…

I have thoroughly enjoyed taking music for A-Level. It is a challenging but extremely rewarding subject. Whilst the department is naturally small, the nature of the course leads to this being advantageous, allowing for a focus on the individual, which is important for aspects such as composition. The skillset that I have acquired from further study has been invaluable and I believe that even if I wasn't studying music at university, the skills I have learnt would have been beneficial to my applications anyway, due to the confidence and dedication it has taught me.

Music Technology

With technology continually updating, the exponential processing power of computers we need to study methods of music production that have already been used and prepare students for creating ‘what the future sounds like’

A level (Edexcel 9MT0)

1. Recording (20%)

Coursework. A multitrack recording of a song chosen from a list set by Edexcel

2. Technology-based composition (20%)

Coursework. Candidates are given a set of audio samples by Edexcel. Using synthesis, and editing and manipulation of these samples, student create a 3 minute composition

3. Listening and Analysing (25%)

Exam. Students analyse recording and production techniques within a series of audio extract form the past 100 years of popular music

4. Producing and Analysing (35%)

Students complete a set of production tasks including editing, mixing and applying specific effects to create a cohesive final mix of a piece of music

[Link to Specification

Beyond the Classroom

Instrumental Tuition

RGS students are able to have lessons in a wide variety of instruments in school. Lessons are with professional musicians who visit for one or two days a week. Timetables are rotated weekly in order that a student does not miss the same academic lesson each week.

Trips, Special Projects, Extra-curricular Clubs/Activities

Ripon Grammar school hosts a very busy music department that frequently demonstrates a high standard of performances in concerts, local competitions, Music for Youth festivals and on foreign tours.

The music department runs regular practices and supports a wide range of music groups catering for many styles and abilities, including several choirs, chamber ensembles, big band, orchestra, and jazz group.

For more information on instrumental tuition and extra curricular music please click the link below

[Extra Curricular Music Link]

Departmental Achievements

Students are regularly examined in performance certificate and diplomas by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, Trinity/Guildhall and Rock School. Many RGS students take part in the Ripon Young Musicians and Harrogate Competitive Festivals and are often winners in their categories. Students have held positions in cathedral choirs, National Youth Choir and The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, and have been awarded choral scholarships to Oxbridge and London colleges.

Music provides students with a huge skill set that can be applied to many different career paths. Many students have gone on to study music at music colleges and Russell Group universities. In addition, students who have studied music up to A level have gone on to careers in teaching, medicine, law and finance, to name a few.