Director of Music

Mr Michael Barker

Teaching Staff

Mrs E Morpeth 

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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 [click here for the Co-Curricular programme for 2020-21). Through these provisions students have the opportunity to develop musically, socially and academically in a welcoming and inclusive environment.

The sound of great music fills the air at Ripon Grammar School. Click on the play button below to enjoy a small selection of recent student performances:

Enjoy director of music Mr Barker's tour of our dedicated music centre - complete with a fully-equipped recording studio and ICT suite, where students learn to create and compose their own music - in addition to specialised rehearsal spaces for a variety of musical ensembles. Click on the play button below to find out more about where our music happens:

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)

EDUQAS (601/8131/X)

The GCSE course in music is built on 3 main areas of listening, composing and performing. Students build their theoretical knowledge throughout the course and focus on the following areas of study:

  • Musical Forms and Devices
  • Music for Ensemble
  • Film Music
  • Pop Music

This includes 2 set works, studied in more detail.

Students will then be required to compose 2 original pieces of music and perform both solo and group pieces on their chosen instrument or voice totalling 4 minutes.

Students have access to the best composition software including Sibelius Ultimate and Logic Pro X and can compose in any style they wish. Composition is taught through short manageable tasks in 4th year to build up skills and technique.

For performance, students can choose any pieces of music in style they wish to play/sing and should be working on at least grade 3 standard on their instrument at the start of the course to make adequate progress and achieve highly.

For further information about the course, please enquire to Mr. Barker (Director of Music) on

Sixth Form (AS/A2 Level)

Music is a multi-disciplinary subject. It teaches and develops a wide range of skills that are essential with and beyond the subject area including analysis, logic, source evaluation, time management, creativity and discipline. It builds confidence in public presentation, develops and enhances communication skills both verbally and in the written and notated form. Studying music is a celebration of and gives understanding to some of humankind’s greatest achievements in the arts.

At A level students can choose to take either a performance or composition based pathway: this depends on their interests and strengths in these areas.

Performance Pathway Composition Pathway
Analysis 40% 40%
Performance 35% 25%
Composition 25% 35%

Analysis focusses on 3 main areas of study but there are optional choices:

  1. The Western Classical Tradition (2 set works)
    1. Rock and Pop (1960 – 2000)
    2. Musical Theatre
    3. Jazz (1920 – 1950)

    1. Into the 20th Century (1895 – 1935)
              i.This focusses on the development of contemporary music including Debussy, Ravel and Poulen
      1. Into the 21st Century (1980 – Present)
        i.This focusses on contemporary composers and current works

Composition consists of creating either 2 or 3 pieces of original music in styles suitable to the candidate. 1 of the pieces will be in response to a brief set by the examination board. Year 12 is taught as a foundation year in composition; teaching and building up the skills necessary to achieve in this area.

The area of Performance will result in the candidate performing a recital lasting either 6 or 10 minutes of a variety of pieces of the candidates choosing to make up a programme which will be performed at the end of Year 13.

For further information about the course, please enquire to Mr. Barker (Director of Music) on

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.

Beyond the Classroom

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.

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.

Applications for lessons can be made through the following link:

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.

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.

Development Plan

For more details on music in here at RGS a document has been created that can be viewed here