“Music is the universal language of Mankind” – Henry Longfellow


Pupils learn to think creatively and solve problems in a variety of ways. Students exposed to music education learn craftsmanship as they study how details are put together and what constitutes good work. These standards, when applied to a student’s own work, demand a new level of excellence and require students to stretch their inner resources. Through music study, students learn the value of sustained effort to achieve excellence and the concrete rewards of hard work. Music enhances teamwork skills and discipline. In order for an orchestra to sound good, all players must work together harmoniously towards a single goal, the performance, and must commit to learning music, attending rehearsals, and practicing.

Music provides children with a means of self-expression. Everyone needs to be in touch at some time in his life with their core, with what they are and what they feels. Self-esteem is a by-product of this self-expression. Music focuses on “doing,” as opposed to observing, and teaches students how to perform, literally, anywhere in the world. Employers are looking for multi-dimensional workers with the sort of flexible and supple intellects that music education helps to create as described above. By performing music, young people learn to conquer fear and to take risks.

To succeed in music it is important that the student has

  • A lively and enquiring mind;
  • Excellent work ethic and a desire to succeed. The pupil must be disciplined to practice regularly by themselves;
  • Interest in Music -  history, performing and theory;
  • Enthusiastic to take part in as many ensembles as the School offers;
  • For GCSE a standard of about Grade 5 in any instrument including singing is required. For A level the standard is grade 7. Pupils do not need to have taken the exam;
  • Grade 5 theory is recommended before A level but again is not a requirement.


Junior Curriculum

In the First and Second Forms all pupils receive a single music lesson a week. The lessons are arranged around the following aspects:


Basic theory up to a standard of Grade One (Associated Board) is taught in class with opportunity for more advanced pupils to receive extra lessons


Class singing is an important activity.  The intention is to ensure that pupils can join in and familiarise themselves with a broad spectrum of song.


The main orchestral instruments are categorised and their individual sounds recognised.  The school stocks most instruments for hands on personal experience activities.


So that live and recorded music can be heard, understood and described in respect of mood, style, instrumentation, structure and origin etc.  The history of various works and how they fit in to the overall history of periods/styles is also discussed.


Practical class-based projects involve the addition of performing and composing using various instruments, based around a variety of topics.


GCSE Curriculum

The course includes a study of set works such as Haydn’s Clock Symphony and songs by the Beatles. Students perform one solo and one ensemble piece to the standard of Grade 5 along with two composition pieces. 

Assessment Structure:

AQA is the chosen examination board for Music. GCSE Music consists of three components; listening paper, music performance and composition. The weight of each unit towards the final grade is as seen below;

Listening paper: 40% divided into two sections:
• Unfamiliar music based on music from the western classical tradition, popular and world music;
• Study of set works.
Music Performance 30%:
• Two performances recorded onto a CD;
• Both pieces must be of over one minute long (together must be over four minutes long) and be about grade 5 standard or above;
• Solo;
• Ensemble.
Composition 30%:
Two compositions. Composition, done to a brief issued by the board in September of the
examination year, and free composition. Both compositions must total over three minutes long.

A Level Curriculum

We study three areas of music: Western Classical music, Theatre and stage, Music for film and TV. A Level Music requires the students to perform a ten minute piece and to produce two Compositions. One to a brief and one a free composition, both compositions take equal marks and the brief will be set in the examination year. The brief may include a Bach Chorale. For A level the standard ideally required is grade 7 however, pupils do not need to have taken the exam. Grade 5 theory is recommended before A level but again is not a definite requirement.

Assessment Structure:

AQA is the chosen examination board for Music. The A level is similar to GCSE but extends everything to the next level. A Level Music consists of three components; written paper, music performance and composition. The weight of each unit towards the final grade is as seen below;

Listening paper 40%

Music Performance 35%

Composition 25%


The Staff

Mr Philip Horley is the Director of Music and has been at the school since 1990. He studied for a BA degree at York and then a Post-Graduate Diploma in Advanced Organ playing at the Royal Northern College of Music. He teaches the theory and composing components of the courses.

Mr David Holmes is the Head of Strings and has been at the school only a few years less than Mr Horley. He studied Violin and Viola at the Royal Academy of Music London and is responsible for building up the strings at Sutton Valence School to their present high level. He prepares the students for the listening component, especially the Western Classical Music topic.

Details of the Music Ensembles available at Sutton Valence School can be found here.

Mr Phil Horley
Director of Music

Sutton Valence School music on YouTube

Contact Us

Sutton Valence School

North Street, Sutton Valence, Kent, ME17 3HL


Tel: 01622 845200


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