Music Department

The aims of the Music Department are:

  • To develop a creative environment where pupils are engaged, enthusiastic, happy and confident.
  • To develop technical skills in music and encourage excellent standards of performance, both during lessons and in extra-curricular activities.
  • To develop social skills and build self-confidence.
  • To encourage all pupils to reach their full potential by offering a challenging curriculum and a wide variety of extra-curricular activities.

The Music Department offers classroom music lessons for all pupils during Key Stage 3, followed by options to take Music at Key Stages 4 and 5. 

Peripatetic instrumental and vocal tutors also offer lessons to small groups of pupils on Strings and Woodwind instruments, the guitar, drums and voice with many gaining ABRSM, Trinity Rock and Pop and Rockschool exam qualifications. 


Head of Department: Steven Powell

Drums: Elliot Bennett

Guitar: Richard Jones

Strings/Woodwind: Andrew May

Voice: Jeanne Thorndike

Classroom teaching is supported by a lively extra-curricular program throughout the year, with many opportunities for pupils to participate in instrumental and vocal ensembles. They consist of Senior Choir, Chamber Choir, Junior Choir, Guitar Group, Samba Band, String Group, Keyboard Club and Studio Sessions.

The annual School Carol Service in St Margaret’s Church in Mountain Ash is an important event in the school calendar.

Music class

A brief description of KS3 course

Music lessons at KS3 follow the National Curriculum for music and develop the skills in the three areas of Performing, Composing and Appraising.

Throughout Years 7, 8 and 9 pupils are encouraged to develop instrumental and vocal performance through a variety of whole class, group and individual tasks. Keyboards skills are developed and pupils who already play orchestral instruments are encouraged to use these in class lessons. In Year 9 the drum kit, electric and bass guitar are also used in performance lessons.

Composition is taught throughout the key stage, where pupils develop their knowledge of musical devices to create their own music in an imaginative and original way.

Appraising is an integral part of every music lesson, with emphasis on using the correct terminology to evaluate a wide range of music from the world of classical, film, jazz and world music.

Pupils use music technology to enhance their composition and performance work during the Key Stage.

A brief description of KS4 course

The department follows the WJEC GCSE course for Music at KS4. Following on from the work at KS3 it continues to develop pupil’s skills in Performing, Composing and Appraising.

Performing (35%)

Pupils will perform a minimum of two pieces, one of which must be an ensemble piece. The other piece may be either solo or ensemble.

Pupils also write a programme note for one of the pieces chosen for performance.

This unit is internally assessed and externally moderated

Composing (35%)

Pupils will write 2 compositions, one of which is set to a brief by WJEC. The other is a free composition.

Pupils also write an evaluation of the piece composed to a brief.

This unit is internally assessed and externally moderated.

Appraising (30%)

This unit is assessed via a listening examination (1 hour) and consists of 8 questions based on four areas of study:

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

A brief description of KS5 course

At Key Stage 5 there are opportunities for pupils to study BTEC Music Technology Level 3 or A Level Music.

Currently, Years 12 and 13 are taught together as a Music Technology group at Mountain Ash Comprehensive. AS and A2 Music are delivered in neighbouring schools in the Cynon Valley as part of the Consortium.

Music Technology follows the EDEXCEL Level 3 course and this year the department is delivering the following units:

  • Unit 5     Backline Technical Management
  • Unit 11   Music Events management
  • Unit 40   Developing an Ensemble

Assessment is through completion of a portfolio of work including video evidence, Powerpoint presentations, written diaries and a BTEC Music Show where the pupils can showcase their talents to the public. The work is externally moderated and pupils are awarded a Pass, Merit or Distinction.