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Year 8

Curriculum OverviewResources - websitesResources - listeningResources - your workbookKeyboard ChallengeYear 8 Exam

The Year 8 curriculum will allow you to explore the following areas of music:


  • Develop keyboard skills learned in Year 7
  • Those that have instrumental and singing lessons, how to embrace the opportunity to perform in public
  • Considering carefully instructions in a musical score, such as dynamics and articulation
  • How to cope with nerves when performing in class/public
  • How to join in with whole-class singing activities to make an individual contribution that matters
  • How to offer supportive critical feedback to improve the quality of someone else’s performance


  • Develop composition skills learned in Year 7
  • How to exploit a variety of techniques offered by Sibelius software
  • How to make melodic writing more interesting and varied using motifs
  • Other key fundamentals, such as pedal, sequence and imitation
  • How to make accompaniment parts more interesting
  • Considering score details such as dynamics, articulation and phrase markings
  • How to offer supportive critical feedback to improve the quality of someone else’s composition

Listening and Appraising

  • Improve the reading of basic and more advanced rhythm and pitch
  • Recognize the families of a symphony orchestra, and the instruments in each family
  • Learning how to express an opinion about a piece of music we listen to, and respect the opinion of others, using a wider range of technical language, including where appropriate, Italian terms
  • Learning the fundamental elements of music in addition to pitch and rhythm – structure, melody, harmony, texture
  • Listen to a range of musical styles and understand how they link to the specific topic we are studying
  • Learn how to attempt rhythmic and melodic dictation

Topics in the Year 8 Curriculum

  1. Salsa – students will learn how to create a short keyboard improvisation in a Salsa style, hands together. They will also explore some of the commonly used untuned percussion instruments to create a group performance.
  2. Film and TV music – students will create a piece of composition using Sibelius software, inspired by film music of the C20th and C21st music. It analyse some of the techniques used by composers such as John Williams to create effective music quickly.  This topic is likely to start in the Autumn term and be completed at the start of the Spring term.
  3. Mozart Minuet Performance or Composition – students will learn how to perform a short keyboard piece by Mozart, hands together. There are three different versions of the piece dependent on student ability, to provide necessary challenge at the right level. Some students may compose a minuet in the style of Mozart, rather than learn to play it. This topic will start in the Spring term, and may run into the start of the Summer term.

The work of every topic is supported by a range of listening activities. Students keep a record of listening work in their workbooks. This also includes continued work on basic musical literacy and the development of the recognition of different instruments and voice types, and other musical features.


  • Summative assessments: each topic has one practical assessment (either performance or composition) and a listening test. A record of these assessments is kept by the student in the back of their workbook
  • Ongoing low-level checking of listening work, sometimes verbal, sometimes in back of work book. Aural skills will be assessed in line with ABRSM mark schemes for this part of practical examinations


  • One summative assessment per term will receive written feedback
  • Use of apps such as Quizlet and Plickers form part of a regular diet of formative feedback, as well as frequent teacher-peer and peer-peer feedback of all aspects of performing and composing work. This is usually verbal, or available in Sibelius software


  • Formal homework is not set at KS 3 in music
  • Students undertaking private music lessons should always consider the amount of personal practice they do and staff will always support and encourage this
  • Taking part in an extra-curricular musical activity is a good way of broadening your general musical knowledge and improving your confidence as a performing musician

There is such a rich range of good online resources, and there are many more than this short list, but these are good starting points:

To follow

Here is your workbook. The contents include:

  • Lower School Knowledge Organiser – this covers much of the fundamentals of musical theory which will support our learning.
  • Materials to support practical and theoretical work completed in class – want to look at the music we’re playing, or see the theory work we’re doing in the topic? It’s here.
  • Assessment grids for performance and composition – at Key Stage 3, performance and composition work is marked using a grid system, based on EDEXCEL GCSE music assessment grids. This ensures that students who take GCSE music have some familiarity with the assessment scheme. The assessment criteria are laid out clearly in bold at the top of each grid and then staff assess each student’s work individually against these criteria.
  • Examples of listening tests – each topic concludes with a listening test. They include instrument and voice recognition, testing knowledge and understanding specific to the topic, and a mixture of melodic and rhythmic dictation.

Topic Aims

  • to better understand the purpose of practicing a musical instrument
  • to give a ‘public performance’ of a short piece of music
  • to enhance your ability to read music and understand detail in a musical score, such as dynamics and other performance expression marks


  • C2 – pupils demonstrate their new skills in a public fashion to each other in a structured class environment
  • SP5 – pupils demonstrate their improved performance skills

Are you ‘up’ for the keyboard challenge?

Your challenge is to try and learn to play as much of a keyboard piece in one lesson as you possibly can. Push yourself hard and see how you get on.

How to take the challenge

  1. Pick one of the pieces below: easy, medium, difficult, which suits the level that you are working at. You have to log onto SharePoint to open the file. Click ‘ok’ or ‘accept’ to any pop-ups that appear when you open the pdf.
  2. Listen to the audio file of the piece you’ve picked. This will give you an idea of what it sounds like. You will need headphones in the PC to hear this.
  3. Try to practice the piece. You will need headphones in the back of the keyboard for this. Start with the right hand, and try and play the tune. When reading the letters and finding where you hand goes on the keyboard, remember if you  move right on the keyboard, you are going higher in pitch.  If you  move left on the keyboard, you are going lower in pitch.
  4. If you are stuck, ask a neighbour for help. Between you, you should be able to work out what you are doing. Listen again to the audio file to remind yourself of what it sounds like.
  5. Once you can play a line, add the left hand. Try the left hand on its own. The left hand notes need holding down for longer than the right hand. Then try hands together.
  6. Get a neighbour to listen to what you are doing, and try and spot any mistakes. They can help you try and put your performance right.
  7. If you finish the piece you are playing, then try another one! Enjoy!

Music – headphones in keyboard

Audio – headphones in PC

Good luck!

Below is a link to the Year 8 music exam knowledge organiser. Use it wisely!

Year 8 Exam Student Knowledge Organiser

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