The Music Department nurtures creativity and skill through the outstanding range of meaningful curricular and extra-curricular opportunities on offer. Many studies have shown that actively studying music improves academic performance by up to a whole grade across the board. It is a subject that has a material impact on everyone and has the potential to transform the good student into an outstanding one.


The Music Department contains four main teaching rooms and eight practice rooms which are also used for instrumental teaching. We have a recital room, two music technology rooms and a keyboard room for chamber music rehearsals.


In Year 7, students develop a range of musical skills. Practical skills are underpinned by developing a solid foundation of theoretical knowledge. To this end, students sit an internal ABRSM-style theory examination in the summer term. All Year 7 students take part in choir in the Autumn and Spring term.

In Year 8, students further develop their knowledge through composition and performance tasks including melodic writing, the use of major and minor chords, and composing accompaniments. They look at a variety of styles including Samba, Film Music, and Blues as well as using Sibelius as a tool for notating music.

Music is optional in Year 9, musicians undertake a composition project in the Autumn term based on War & Conflict, investigating the ways in which music can convey mood. The second term sees pupils studying popular music. In the summer term, pupils study variations and instrumental colours, gaining an understanding of how sounds combine to produce different orchestral effects.

At GCSE, we follow the Edexcel specification. The course examines three skill areas: listening and appraisal of music, composition and performance. Students should aim to be at least grade 3 standard on their instrument at the beginning of the course and at least grade 5 by the spring term of Year 11. Further information on the Edexcel GCSE Music course can be found here.

At A-level, we follow the AQA specification. The division of skills studied is the same as at GCSE: listening and appraisal, composition and performance. AQA encourages students to listen to and explore a wide repertoire of music and rewards those who are willing to develop their knowledge independently. Students should be at least grade 5 standard on their instrument at the beginning of the course and moving up towards grade 8 by the end. Further information on the AQA A-level Music course can be found here.

Extra-Curricular Music

Music is an integral part of our school and there are numerous ensembles, groups and bands for students, performing a variety of concert at different points throughout the year. You can find out more about extra-curricular Music at its dedicated page here.


Director of Music: Mr R. Newton: BA (Mus), MA (Cantab), PGCE
Teaching Staff:Dr R. Coull: BMus (Hons), MMus, PGCE, PhD, Assistant Director of Music and Key Stage 3 Co-Ordinator

Mr P Ross, Head of Instrumental Studies

Music Secretary: Mrs K Greenway
Performing Arts Technician:Mr D Balcam


In recent years the Music Department undertook an overseas tour to Dublin, Ireland and our Jazz Band and Junior Choir performed in the world famous Guinness Factory to great acclaim. Lots of sight-seeing was crammed alongside historical education as well as the obligatory shopping excursion! More recently we visited Cardiff (performing at the Welsh Parliament and Millennium Centre).


Pupils can learn a wide range of instruments in a variety of styles. Lessons are given on a rotational basis to ensure that pupils do not miss excessive amounts of academic work. We employ around 30 Visiting Music Teachers to cater for all orchestral instruments who bring a wealth of experience and talent to our department. Many VMTs also run extra-curricular ensembles in addition to instrumental teaching.

Students who wish to begin tuition on an instrument are advised to start with a taster lesson, which can be arranged by submitting the form ‘Learning a Musical Instrument at King Henry VIII School’ to the Music Secretary. This will allow the student to take part in a lesson on their chosen instrument with no obligation to continue and is free of charge.