Moving with the times is vitally important for any organisation, recognising trends and responding to areas of interest. In our new building, with the very latest in technology and amazing spaces for rehearsal, we have taken action to expand our musical activities to reflect the changing interests of our students. Most young people enjoy their music, and we aim to give more opportunity for them to develop their musical skills in a stimulating learning environment.

We highly value our gifted and talented classical musicians through a programme of extra-curricular music activities and our prestigious Michael James Bursary Award. However we are committed to engaging a much wider group of students in musical performance. To this end we are establishing an Academy of Popular Music, to cater for rock & pop musicians and singers. Through resourcing new equipment, (electric guitars, bass guitars, electronic drum kits, vocal rehearsal set-ups), revising lesson plans and a wide programme of extra-curricular workshops, we aim to encourage new bands and musicians to get fully involved in music-making.

So whatever musical taste or perceived level of musical talent, our hope is to enable our students to grow in confidence and musical appreciation through their involvement with us in lessons and extra-curricular activities. Another important aspect is the positive partnership we establish with parents helping to assure that students make maximum use of the opportunities here in class, instrumental lessons and extra-curricular activities.

Starting from Year 9 we aim to identify and encourage musical creativity and expression, directing students along an educational pathway which will enable them in larger groups to achieve well at GCSE Music and BTEC Music or A Level Music. Queen Elizabeth’s School Music Department aims to be at the forefront, creating a centre of musical excellence in Popular Music.

We seek to involve large groups of students in performances, such as in the annual Ace Festival Concert; enabling them to develop positively as young adults is a fundamental raison d’etre for our music department.

Students are taught in two well resourced rooms during year 9. One space is geared towards group rehearsing and performing projects, the other room is set-up as a keyboard/music technology suite using touch-sensitive keyboards and computers running music software including Cubase. Students will be given an introduction to playing guitar, bass, keyboard, drums as well as singing, with the possibility of starting instrumental lessons on these instruments in the future. We recognise that we have the skills and resourcing to introduce many young people to our Popular Music Academy in our new building.

Learning integrates listening, composing and performing activities, with students using a variety of ways to assess and improve the quality of their work. Essentially learning both in class and homework will be of a practical nature, involving skill development as listeners, composers and performers. Students will be introduced to a balanced programme of study drawn from a range of genre and musical contexts.

Lessons are delivered in two well resourced rooms, each offering a different musical experience. One room with adjoining practice rooms is set up to rehearse and perform together as groups. The other main classroom is set-up as a music technology suite, with PCs using Cubase and other music software and touch-sensitive keyboards. This classroom is set up with headphones for each workstation to maximise learning.

Learning in music is essentially practical integrating the development of composing, performing and listening skills. Students are encouraged to work to their particular strengths and are taught how to develop good independent learning skills, in a practical music-making context.

GCSE students will be encouraged to attend live concerts, “gigs” and also be involved in at least one extra-curricular musical activity. Special trips and concerts are arranged through the year.

The new specification continues to offer a wide range of opportunities for students to improve their performing skills. Now it is possible to be assessed as a DJ, using decks as a live performance instrument.

Music continues to be an important part of post-16 education at Queen Elizabeth’s School. Students achieve excellent results whether studying BTEC or A Level Music Technology. A good percentage of our students have gone on to Higher Education to study music, others have also been successful in establishing themselves as bands, recording and performing successfully both locally and beyond. We are therefore very proud of our alumni, but recognise that we are at an important point in further developing musical opportunities for our post-16 students. Links with Bournemouth & Poole College, professional musicians and music workshops will be an important part of future planning. Personalised learning lies at the heart of the way students progress through their sixth form studies.

Extra-curricular Music Activities
There is a wide range of rehearsing and performing opportunities throughout the year. Students are expected to be involved in extra-curricular music as part of GCSE and post-16 music course. Students are also encouraged to take a lead in running some activities e.g. guitar club and pop vocal workshop, under the guidance of staff. There is a full programme of music activities at lunchtimes, after-school and as special workshops, geared around student interests. These rehearsals are a major part of preparation for concerts and music productions. During most months in the school calendar there are public performances, either as a whole school or smaller scale event. Some music groups are specifically for our gifted and talented students; other groups are encouraging all students to experience a big performing experience e.g. The Big Choir, the Children in Need, the Christmas concert and the whole school production. JOQE, our jazz orchestra, continues recording tracks and has participated in joint workshops with Bournemouth & Poole College.