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9th Dec 2022
A number of pupils had great success at the Holywood Music Festival:...
25th Nov 2022
It was fantastic that eight pupils and their families were invited to Stormont to...
12th Sep 2022
Music lessons can be arranged in a wide range of instruments, including voice. If...

Key Stage 3 Overview


Every pupil in Years 8 – 10 receives two periods of music per week. In this time the Students receive a thorough and varied Music course with great emphasis placed on progression and the development of musical knowledge and skills.

The Students study music through performing, composing and appraising a wide variety of different styles of music. Students focus on projects such as: Klezmer Music, African Music, the development of Popular Music, Samba and African drumming as well as projects on different styles of Classical music. Students that play instruments outside the classroom are encouraged to bring in their own instruments and a supportive environment has been developed to enable them to further develop their musical skills in accademic lessons.

We are acutely aware of the need for Students to learn music musically and have been influenced by some of the principles of New Musical Futures education movement. As such a lot of our time in the Music classroom is spent playing instruments and making music in small and large groups as well as individually.

Recently we have invested in the following resources:

A set of Samba Drums

A set of African (Djembe) Drums

2 sets of Keyboards

A Drum kit, 2 Electric guitars and 3 Bass Guitars for both classrooms

A set of i pads

A set of computers

A PA System




GCSE and A-Level Overview

At GCSE the opportunity is given to pursue personal interests with options enabling students to focus on their strengths. At the moment Students study for the CCEA GCSE examination focusing on Musical Traditions in Ireland, Vocal Music and Repated Patterns in Music.

The marks are awarded for GCSE as follows:

Composition (Coursework ) 30%

Performing (Solo and ensemble) 35%

Listening (exam) 35%


At A-Level the opportunity is given to pursue personal interests with options enabling students to focus on their strengths. AS and A2 (CCEA) they study Romantic Piano music (AS) and English secular song (A2).

The marks are awarded for GCSE as follows:

Composition and Performance 64%

Aural perception 36%


Breakdown of how marks are awarded at A2:

Composition and Performance 62%

Aural perception 38%


Extra-Curricular Music

The Music Department enters a huge number of Students for ABRSM and LCM exams each year and has a 100% pass rate. We have recently had a number of Students achieving Grade 8 and Diploma and are very proud of our Students and their Teachers for achieving such a high level of atainment.

Achievements and recent successes

The Music Department puts on a number of public events throughout the year. In November, our ‘Music for an Autumn’s Evening’ is held in Down Civic Arts Centre and provides opportunity for younger pupils to perform in public.

The Carol Services at Christmas (usually the last Monday of term) are held in the neighbouring Down Cathedral – the 8.00pm service attracts parents, friends, pupils and former pupils and is a community affair. In March two evenings of instrumental and choral music are held in the Great Hall of the Downshire Hospital and are a showcase for the school’s Junior, Senior and Chamber Choirs, the Concert Band, Orchestra and String Group as well as a number of soloists.

Honours and Colours

The school awards Colours and Honours to Students in sixth form who are high achievers in this subject as well as using their skills to help develop their own and others musicianship. We also award six different Music prizes on Prize Day.

A note on the importance of Music in your Childs future

We were all made aware of the importance of Music when your Child was young but did you know?

The music industry is estimated to be the second highest generator of income in Western Europe and learning to play an instrument or to sing is currently perceived as important in preparing individuals to work as performers, educators, composers and arrangers, music therapists, journalists, librarians, publishers, retailers, promoters, arts administrators and instrument manufacturers and repairers. It is also seen as making an important contribution to the education of those wishing to pursue careers in TV and radio, as producers, in the record business, advertising, sound engineering, film editing and acoustic research. An ability and qualification in Music is seen as very helpful and useful both for University entrants as well as employers as it denotes that the candidate has certain characteristics and skills such as:

  • Good time management and organisational skills
  • Boosted team skills
  • Increased perseverance and concentration
  • Enhanced coordination
  • Increased responsibility
  • Confidence in self-expression and performance skills
  • Increased discipline

In a time when Students and Adults mental health is been seen as more under threat than at any time before studying music also is linked to stress relief, creating a sense of achievement, promoting social skills and a sense of enjoyment.



Miss T Clarke (Director of Music)

Miss K McKeown


Visiting Instrumental/Voice Tutors

Mrs Jenny Bourke (Voice)

Mr Michael McCracken (Piano)

Mr Jonathan Moan (Classical Guitar)

Miss Courtney Burns (Strings) 

Mr Philip Ferguson (Brass) EA

Miss Cliodhna McAteer (Cello) EA

Mr Mark Mahood (Bass and Electric Guitar) 


  • To foster enjoyment of music
  • To encourage and enable pupils to be involved in practical performance and music making
  • To develop listening skills in order to foster an appreciation of all styles of music