“Music can change the world, because it can change people.”


100% A*-B grades and a Fast-Track course provided for GCSE

Strong links with Lincoln Cathedral with regular opportunities to perform

Strong links with London (RCM, RAM, TCL) and Manchester (RNCM) music colleges

Opportunities to perform in world-class venues in London, Venice, Oxford and more

Music is absolutely central to life at Lincoln Minster School and children are encouraged to participate whether through playing, composing or attending concerts and recitals.

Key Stage 3

Children are immersed in performance from the start of their Lincoln Minster School journey.

In lessons pupils are encouraged to develop not only their musicianship, but also key skills such as communication, problem solving, self awareness, teamwork, application of number and aural awareness.

Those that choose to learn an instrument will be able to bring these skills to the course as well as experiencing the immense personal satisfaction that playing an instrument brings.

Course details

Pupils will develop their skills in composing and performing music, and their ability to appraise both their own work and that of others.

They will work in a variety of genres and develop the ability to use a variety of instruments, including the voice. Pupils will work co-operatively with others and be encouraged to view their work from the perspective of a professional composing musician.

Music from different historical periods is studied, ranging from Renaissance to 20th Century music, music from different cultural backgrounds such as Gamelan and Bhangra is also studied.

All topics studied prepare pupils for the GCSE syllabus should they wish to continue with music after Key Stage 3.

The Curriculum

Year 7: Performance practice, rhythm and melody, elements of music, chords, the voice, major and minor.

Year 8: Programme music, blues, melody creation, chords and cadences, jazz and improvisation, Indian music.

Year 9: Film music, gospel, swing music, minimalism, ground bass and performance topic.

Express Stream

Each year, some pupils are invited to join the GCSE Express Stream; this is an intensive and challenging course which enables some of our most gifted musicians to take GCSE Music at the end of Year 9. Pupils are selected towards the end of Year 8 and progress is reviewed regularly.

Harper Building


You may be suprised to hear that GCSE Music does not only help you to specialise in playing and instrument, create exciting compositions and develop listening skills; there is scientific evidence to show that studying music can help to increase the capacity of your memory – music is one of the few activities that involves using the whole brain!

Structure of the course

60% of GCSE Music is coursework; 30% of this is performance – two pieces are required, which can be on different instruments or the same one (including voice), one of which has to be a solo (with an accompaniment if required) and the other has to be an ensemble. The other 30% is composition, comprising of of one free composition and one to a brief set by the exam board.

The other 40% of GCSE Music is an appraising exam based around set areas of study; this involves studying in detail a diverse range of music, including Back, Brandenburg Concerto, Purcell, Music for a While, Queen, Killer Queen, Defying Gravity (from Wicked) and John Williams’ Star Wars Episode IV.



A Level

Course Requirements

This A Level course is open to all pupils, the best foundation for success is a good grade at GCSE but this is not crucial. The ability to play at least one instrument to at least Grade V and an interest in performing, creating and understanding music are also important. In order to ensure a strong result in A Level Music, students will benefit from a range of extra-curricular activities.

Course content methodology and assessment

The course allows pupils to study Music as a practical, intellectual and creative subject, covering a wide range of styles of music, including classical, jazz and pop. It is recognised that we live in an age of cultural diversity and the course aims to enable musicians from all backgrounds to develop as performers and composers. The course is split into three components; performing, composing and appraising.

Performing (externally assessed, 30% of the qualification, 60 marks)

  • Content: approaches to performing
  • Assessment:
    • A public performance of one or more pieces, performed as a recital.
    • Performance can be playing or singing solo, in an ensemble, improvising, or realising music using music technology.
    • The total performance time across all pieces must be a minimum of eight minutes.
    • Performances must be recorded after 1st March in the year of certification and all materials for assessment submitted to arrive by 15th May in the year of certification.

Composing (Non-examined assessment, externally assessed, 30% of the qualification, 60 marks)

  • Content: Approaches to composing
  • Assessment:
    • A total of two compositions, one to a brief set by the exam board and one either free composition or also to a brief.
    • One composition must be from either a list of briefs related to the areas of study, or a free composition, carrying 40 marks for this component. This must be at least four minutes in duration.
    • One composition must be from a list of briefs assessing compositional technique, carrying 20 marks for this component. This composition must be at least one minute in duration, unless the brief specifies a longer minimum duration.
    • The total time across both submissions must be a minimum of six minutes.

Appraising (written examination, 90 minutes, 40% of the qualification, 100 marks)

  • Content:
    • Knowledge and understanding of musical elements, contexts and language
    • Application of knowledge through the context of six areas of study, each with three set works: vocal music, instrumental music, music for film, popular music and jazz, fusions, new directions.
    • Application of knowledge to unfamiliar works.
  • Assessment:
    • One written paper of two hours with a total of 100 marks.
    • One audio CD per student, with the extracts to accompany questions on the paper, will be given.
    • This paper comprises two sections: A (Areas of study and dictation) and B (Extended response)
      • Section A – three questions related to the set works (audio and skeleton score given), one short melody/rhythm completion exercise.
      • Section B – two essay questions (essay one is 20 marks, essay two is 30). Essay one asks pupils to draw links from their study of the set works to the music heard as an unfamiliar extract. Essay two gives a choice of three questions that ask pupils to evaluate the musical elements, context and language of one set work. Each option will be from a different area of study.

Supporting Advanced Performance

The Advanced Performance Team, led by our Director of Studies, seeks to advise staff on how we – as a teaching body – can identify, monitor and experientially enhance the educational opportunities of able, gifted and talented pupils at  Lincoln Minster School.

How do we cater for AP students in Music?

All schemes of work at Key Stage 3 include suggestions for enrichment and extension work for AP pupils. Often this includes further worksheets and tasks to suit the more able, both intellectually and musically. It is at the teacher’s discretion when to use these additional tasks and resources, and with which children.

In recognition of the fact that many LMS pupils are gifted musicians the department offers an Express GCSE Music to selected Year 9 pupils. Each year between 12 and 15 children take the course and results are generally very high. Pupils are selected by audition at the end of Year 8. The course is run instead of KS3 Music & Drama, in 1 PE/DT session and after school. The Head of Music is responsible for all aspects of running the Express GCSE course.

Students who demonstrate Advanced Performance in Key Stage 4 and 5 are encouraged to complete more complex tasks and aim for the top grade.

Encouraging Advanced Performance outside of lessons

The department offers a wide range of musical activities led by a range of experts, including choirs, orchestras, bands and chamber ensembles. Activities offer pupils the chance to associate with pupils of other ages and abilities and to interact with staff in a less formal environment. The department also runs a busy concert programme in local venues and further afield and trips are run to London and elsewhere. Venues further afield have included Birmingham Town Hall, Oxford Sheldonian Theatre, Birmingham Symphony Hall, Westminster Abbey and Canterbury Cathedral.

Three ensembles are selected by audition: Chamber Choir, Symphonic Wind Band and the flute and clarinet sections of orchestra. This allows the most gifted musicians to be developed and stretched through the rise in standard. The department provides training ensembles which run alongside these groups to develop those pupils who are not yet ready to join them. The expected grade required in order to audition for Chamber Choir and Symphonic Wind Band is Grade 5 and for Orchestra clarinets and flutes is Grade 7. Pupils do not have to have taken these grades, as not all pupils go through the grades system or in the case of singers, have singing lessons, but it is expected that they would be around this level.

The department offers regular workshops with professional musicians in order to allow AP pupils access to top-class musicians to develop their skills further. Musicians who have worked with AP pupils in previous years are: the international composer and choir trainer Bob Chilcott, the professional singer Sarah Leonard, the renowned countertenor James Laing, the orchestral conductor Nick Fallowfield, the jazz singer Sarah Ellen Hughes, the international concert pianists Hiro Takenouchi and Daniel del Pino and the violinist Thomas Kemp.

The department has also run tours to Paris, the Loire valley, Lake Geneva and Venice in the past.

We develop our composers through encouraging them to compose for our ensembles and by giving them an opportunity to perform these compositions as part of our annual composition competition.

Some of our musical pupils are also Choristers at Lincoln Cathedral.


Beyond Lincoln Minster School

In an increasingly competitive Higher Education market and workplace, universities and employers are not only looking for impressive grades, but also subjects which demonstrate a student’s versatility and a greater breadth of skill and interest.

As a very varied discipline, A Level Music is therefore recognised both as a rigorous academic subject and as excellent preparation for many courses in Higher Education.

Music teaches many transferable skills: confidence in performance and at interview, self-discipline in individual practice, teamwork in ensemble-playing, music technology, essay writing, analysis and more.

Music can also help to refine time management and organisational skills, teaches perseverance, enhances coordination, boosts mathematical ability, improves reading and comprehension, promotes social skills and reduces stress levels.

Find out more about our facilities, links with Lincoln Cathedral and the exciting musical opportunities available to our pupils:

Music at Lincoln Minster School

Listen to a selection of performances by our pupils on SoundCloud and YouTube.

Senior School Curriculum

Visit an Open Day

Our Alumni Association