The King's (The Cathedral) School




The Music curriculum at The King’s School is ambitious, and provides meaningful, engaging, inclusive, high-quality learning which meets the needs of all of our pupils.   It offers relevant, challenging learning opportunities in a variety of musical styles and genres and enables all pupils to become confident music practitioners. The curriculum strives for excellence in Music through the inter-relationships of performing, composing, listening and appraising, and through acknowledgement of the importance of technology to provide a stimulus for musical achievement.

Our curriculum is broad and balanced, providing each pupil with a wide range of inter-related concepts, experience, knowledge and skills.  It provides challenging and exciting opportunities for all pupils to learn and achieve through what is taught, and how it is taught.  It also meets the challenge of delivering the curriculum to students with both lower musical ability, and the more musically able, fully developing pupils’ abilities and aptitudes. The curriculum encourages independent learning, promotes equal importance of all pupils and our responsibility to provide for their individual learning needs, and extends learning opportunities by developing links with other secondary schools and professional artists in the community. It values musical traditions, but is also open to new ideas, and encourages creativity and enquiry.

All pupils are encouraged to do their best at all times, and are supported so that they are empowered to use their initiative, acknowledge each other’s successes, and take responsibility for their development in an environment of honesty, trust and mutual respect.  Pupils develop self-reliance, self-organisation, high self-esteem and self-discipline, have a sense of responsibility for their actions and decisions, and show consideration for others.

Development of the whole person is promoted through the nurturing of good social skills and an ability to forge positive relationships by ensuring that pupils work in a range of social groupings.  Positive attitudes about diversity and greater understanding about the nature of society are modelled, and stereotypes such as gender and the assumptions that are made about subjects are challenged. These approaches foster an environment in which pupils can function as well-balanced citizens who make a worthwhile contribution to the community.

The curriculum is relevant as it encourages an understanding of the importance of life-long learning by providing challenging and exciting learning experiences for all pupils.  It promotes careers and extra-curricular links, and equips pupils for learning in other subjects, preparing pupils for the responsibilities and experiences of adult life through citizenship and the development of transferable skills, and making explicit cross-curricular links to develop pupils’ wider understanding. It provides pupils with opportunities to develop their key skills in communication, numeracy and Information Technology and the wider key skills of problem-solving, organising their own learning and working in a team.  Pupils’ spiritual, cultural, emotional and moral values are developed through learning about Christianity and other religions, and there is a commitment to developing understanding of the world in which pupils live, and the interdependence of individuals, groups, nations and the environment.


The Music curriculum is designed as a spiral, with successive years and topics building a deepening understanding of music through scaffolded learning about the musical elements.  These elements, which are interwoven, provide the basis of the acquisition of knowledge and skills in the three key musical components: performing, composing, and listening and appraising.  Pupils revisit key concepts throughout the curriculum, with continuous opportunities for consolidation and reflection, whilst developing their knowledge and skills in small, incremental steps. Formative and summative assessment is used throughout the curriculum, and there is a strong emphasis on verbal feedback to support pupils’ learning and development.  Questioning, peer and self-assessment, and formal teacher assessments of skill development and written work inform pupils’ learning from Year 3 to Year 13.

Key Stage 2

At Key Stage 2 pupils are introduced to the main elements of Music, exploring how they combine to produce music with different effects and purposes. Music is taught by specialist teachers as a curriculum subject to all students in Years 3-6.  All pupils learn either a musical instrument or take singing lessons, and one-to-one lessons take place throughout the day.  There is an emphasis on practical music-making. Pupils follow a Scheme of Learning which alternates annually, and which complements the Junior Department Scheme of Work.  Performing, composing, listening and appraising and working with fellow students are at the heart of the Music curriculum.

JD1, Year 1:

Autumn Term: Songs of the Second World War – Musical Elements (First Recording)
Spring Term: Graphic Scores – Brazil: Carnival! (Exploring Structure and Timbre)
Summer Term: British Music in the Twentieth Century (Exploring Rhythm and Pitch)

JD1, Year 2:

Autumn Term: Folk Songs – Musical Elements (First Recording)
Spring Term: Graphic Scores – Volcanoes (Exploring Structure and Timbre)
Summer Term: Salsa Music (Exploring Rhythm and Pitch)

JD2, Year 1:

Autumn Term: Mediaeval to Modern Music – Musical Elements
Spring Term: Music Associated with Water: Handel, Schubert, Debussy, Britten – Music, Purpose and Graphic Scores
Summer Term: Pop Music Fusions 1950-1970 – Musical Elements (Final Recording)

JD2, Year 2:

Autumn Term: Music of Ancient Greece / The Middle East – Musical Elements
Spring Term: Disney’s The Rite of Spring – Music, Purpose and Graphic Scores
Summer Term: Superheroes! – Musical Elements (Final Recording)

Topics incorporate singing, notation, music from around the world, musicals, instruments of the orchestra, storytelling, Leitmotifs, famous Western composers and their music, and composing and performing skills.  Pupils communicate about music using music-specific vocabulary.

In Years 3 and 4 the more accessible musical elements are introduced, revisited and explored. Pitch (high/low [Songs of the Second World War and Folk Songs] progresses to steps/leaps [Graphic Scores – Brazil: Carnival! And Graphic Scores – Volcanoes]), and Duration (long/short and steady beat [Songs of World War 2 and Folk Songs] progresses to rhythmic patterns and strong/weak beats [British Music in the Twentieth Century and Salsa Music]).  Dynamics (loud/quiet [Songs of the Second World War and Folk Songs] progress to more subtle graduation of dynamics [Graphic Scores – Brazil: Carnival! And Graphic Scores – Volcanoes]), and Tempo (fast/slow [Songs of the Second World War and Folk Songs] progresses to tempo graduations [Graphic Scores - Brazil: Carnival! and Graphic Scores - Volcanoes]).

Timbre (exploring timbre [Graphic Scores – Brazil: Carnival! and Graphic Scores – Volcanoes]) progresses to wooden, metallic and string timbres ([British Music in the Twentieth Century and Salsa Music]), and Texture (one sound/several sounds [Songs of the Second World War and Folk Songs] progresses to layers of sound [Graphic Scores – Brazil: Carnival! and Graphic Scores – Volcanoes], and then to melody/accompaniment [British Music in the Twentieth Century and Salsa Music]). Structures (beginnings/endings [Songs of the Second World War and Folk Songs] progress to simple repeated patterns [Graphic Scores – Brazil: Carnival! and Graphic Scores – Volcanoes] and question and answer structures [British Music in the Twentieth Century and Salsa Music]).  

In Years 5 and 6 these elements are revisited, consolidated and developed further.  Pitch (steps and leaps [Graphic Scores – Brazil: Carnival! And Graphic Scores – Volcanoes] progresses to pentatonic patterns [Mediaeval to Modern Music and Music of Ancient Greece and the Middle East] and major/minor/modal scales [Pop Music between 1950 and 1970 and Superheroes!]), and Duration (rhythmic patterns and strong/weak beats [British Music in the Twentieth Century and Salsa Music] progresses to metre, crotchets and quavers, 2/3/4 and then 5/6/9 beats per bar [Music Associated with Water and Disney’s The Rite of Spring]). 

Dynamics (strong contrasts and subtle changes [Graphic Scores – Brazil: Carnival! and Graphic Scores – Volcanoes] progress to accents/articulation [Pop Music between 1950 and 1970 and Superheroes!]), Tempo (comparing tempi [Graphic Scores – Brazil: Carnival! And Graphic Scores – Volcanoes] progresses to links between tempo and mood effects [Pop Music between 1950 and 1970 and Superheroes!]), and Timbre (orchestral family timbres [Mediaeval to Modern Music and Music of Ancient Greece and the Middle East] progresses to electronic and experimental sounds [Pop Music between 1950 and 1970 and Superheroes!]).

Texture (weaving parts [Music Associated with Water and Disney’s The Rite of Spring] progresses to chords [Pop Music between 1950 and 1970 and Superheroes!]), and Structure (ostinato [Mediaeval to Modern Music and Music of Ancient Greece and the Middle East] progresses to Rounds [Music Associated with Water and Disney’s The Rite of Spring]) and Ternary Form structures [Pop Music between 1950 and 1970 and Superheroes!]).  The concept of Harmony (chords and discords) is also introduced in Year 6 ([Pop Music between 1950 and 1970 and Superheroes!].  This organisation is summarised in the Progression in KS2 and KS3 Music chart.

Pupils are involved in a range of extra-curricular musical activities, such as performing in assemblies, the Friday Tootle and the Christmas Concert.  These opportunities, which are monitored, have clear outcomes and tangible evidence of their impact, and complement the curriculum and provision map.  Opportunities extend to partner organisations such as the Peterborough Music Hub and other external providers, who also provide CPD and networking opportunities for staff as required.

Key Stage 3

The Music curriculum which is followed by all pupils in Years 7–9 comprises performing, composing, and listening and appraising, and builds on the knowledge and understanding of the musical elements from Key Stage 2, whilst developing related practical skills.  At Key Stage 3 pupils work individually, in small groups and as a class and learn about the elements of music, associated vocabulary, specific techniques of performance and composition, and musical styles and genres:

Year 7

  • How Music Achieves Intended Effects
  • Instruments of the Orchestra
  • Minimalism
  • Gamelan
  • Mediaeval Music
  • Impressionism

Year 8

  • Structures in Music (Binary, Ternary, Rondo, Variations, Ground Bass)
  • Renaissance, Classical and Romantic Music
  • Blues
  • Music for Film and TV
  • Music for Dance
  • 20th Century Styles and Techniques

Year 9

  • Popular Music in Context
  • Blues Song
  • Jazz
  • Swing
  • Rock & Roll
  • 1960s Culture
  • Musicals
  • Today’s Music (including Salsa and Bhangra)

The Key Stage 3 curriculum builds on the aspects of the musical elements studied at Key Stage 2, revisiting and consolidating them, and making more explicit references to Style and Genre.  For Pitch: pentatonic, modal and major/minor scales [KS2 and Vivaldi: Spring] progress to chromaticism and whole-tone scales [Impressionism], melodic sequences [Minimalism], improvised patterns [Gamelan] and finally pop song melody writing [Popular Music in the Twentieth Century]).  For Duration: metre, crotchets and quavers, 2/3/4 and then 5/6/9 beats per bar [KS2 and Minimalism] progress to syncopation and polyrhythms [Gamelan], and dotted [Carmen] and swung rhythms [Blues Music]. 

The use of Dynamics and articulation to shape music [Vivaldi: Spring], the introduction of experimental Timbres [Gamelan], and the exploration of Texture [Mediaeval Music], including melody and accompaniment, homophony and counterpoint, are introduced, building on the understanding of chords from the previous Key Stage.  Structures (the development of Ternary Form and ostinatos [KS2], variations [Theme and Variation], rondo form [Carmen], ground bass [Baroque Music] and improvisation [Twentieth-Century Experimental Music]), and Harmony (organum, intervals and drones [Mediaeval Music], progressing to primary triads, dissonant chords and added-note chords [Blues and Jazz]) are developed further.

The concepts of Style and Genre, which have been introduced at Key Stage 2, are revisited and developed in Year 7 through the topics of Minimalism, Gamelan, Mediaeval music and Impressionism, before following a chronological development of Western art music through Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Twentieth-Century music, including Blues, Jazz, Swing, Rock ‘n Roll, Salsa and Bhangra in Years 8 and 9.  Current Western musical style is developed further in Year 9 through the exploration of music for dance, music for film and musicals. This organisation is shown in the Progression in KS2 and KS3 Music chart.

Teaching at Key Stage 3 is shared equally between the Director and Assistant Director of Music.

Key Stage 4

At Key Stage 4 pupils consolidate, develop and apply higher-level performing, composing, and listening and appraising skills through the study of set works and related wider listening.  In Years 10 and 11 a typical cohort of approximately fifteen pupils per year group follows the Edexcel 1MU0 Music GCSE specification. The course consists of the three main areas of Performing, Composing, and Appraising Music, and all are influenced by four Areas of Study:

Component 1: Performing (30%)

Students prepare, perform and submit two performances, one solo and one in a group. No specific ABRSM/Trinity Guildhall exam grades are required for this part of the course. However, please see What Makes a Good Music Student below for further information. The difficulty level of the music performed is taken into account in the assessment of each performance. 

Component 2: Composing (30%)

Students compose, as individuals, two compositions using styles and techniques of their choice. One is a free composition, the other is in response to an externally set brief.  Much of this work is prepared using the computer facilities of the Department, particularly the Sibelius notation programme, and emphasis is on making effective use of the musical elements e.g. structure, melody, harmony and rhythm.

Component 3: Appraising Music (40%)

Students study specific pieces of music from the four Areas of Study (Instrumental Music 1700-1820, Vocal Music, Music for Stage and Screen, and Fusions). They listen to the music and analyse scores, recognising the essential features of the music and placing the music in context. This area is assessed through an exam paper with listening exercises using excerpts of music.

Year 10

Pupils study Stephen Schwartz's Defying Gravity (from Wicked), John Williams' Main Title/Rebel Blockade Runner (from the soundtrack to Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope), Purcell's Music for A While and the third movement of J.S. Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D Major.  Study of the set works is complemented by listening to and analysing related musical works, and through performance and composition activities. 

Year 11

Pupils study the first movement of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 8 in C Minor (Pathétique), Afro Celt Sound System's Release (from the album Volume 2: Release), Esperanza Spalding's Samba Em Preludio (from the album Esperanza), and Queen's Killer Queen (from the album Sheer Heart Attack). Study of the set works is complemented by listening to and analysing related pieces of music, and completing performance and composition activities. 

Organisation of the GCSE curriculum builds on knowledge of and skills relating to the musical elements already covered, studying music as sound, expression, process, structure, music theory, techniques and effects in their contexts.  Aspects of Pitch, which are built on melodic sequences at Key Stage 3, include ornamentation, fragmentation, phrasing, passing notes, conjunct and disjunct movement, appoggiaturas and transposition [Defying Gravity, Star Wars and Brandenburg Concerto Number 5], unifying melodic devices such as Leitmotifs [Defying Gravity and Star Wars], intervallic expansion, monothematicism, melodic augmentation and word painting [Music for A While and the Pathetique Sonata], and sampling [Release]. Features of Rhythm and Metre, which are based on dotted, swung, syncopated and polyrhythms studied at Key Stage 3, are explored through rhythmic manipulation, including free time, push rhythms, fermata, triplets and walking bass [Defying Gravity, Star Wars, Brandenburg Concerto Number 5 and Music for A While], and augmentation, cross-rhythms, rubato and irregular time signatures [Release, Killer Queen and Samba Em Preludio].  

Dynamics such as crescendo, diminuendo and terraced dynamics studied at Key Stage 3 are enhanced through understanding of editorial dynamics and textural influences [Brandenburg Concerto Number 5] and sforzandos [Pathetique Sonata]. Tempos such as Allegro, Andante, Adagio, and related terminology such as Rallentando and Accelerando studied in Years 7, 8 and 9, are discussed using alternative terminology such as ‘Crotchet = 60/90 b.p.m.’ [Release].  Understanding of aspects of Timbre which include African and Celtic instruments [Release], and electronic techniques, panning and overdubbing [Killer Queen] develop from knowledge of instrument-specific techniques, realisation, figured bass and voice types [Defying Gravity, Star Wars, Brandenburg Concerto and Music for A While], which in turn are based on the orchestral and electronic timbres studied in Years 7, 8 and 9. 

Aspects of Texture which include broken, block, parallel and layered chords [Pathetique Sonata, Release, Killer Queen and Samba Em Preludio] develop from the textures of monophony, melody-dominated homophony, homorhythm, fugue, canon, stretto and imitation [Defying Gravity, Star Wars, Brandenburg Concerto and Music for A While], which are in turn based upon the melody-and-accompaniment, homophonic and contrapuntal textures studied in Year 8.  Structures which incorporate simpler structures studied in Years 7, 8 and 9 such as variations, rondo, ground bass and improvisation include song form, underscore and scena [Defying Gravity, Music for A While, Release and Killer Queen], ritornello [Brandenburg Concerto Number 5], the structural significance of tonality and sonata form [Pathetique Sonata], dal segno [Music for A While] and sample loops [Release]. 

Harmony takes the concepts of the primary triads and chord progressions from Year 9 and introduces functional chords, cadences, chord positions and pedals [Defying Gravity, Brandenburg Concerto and Music For A While], quartal harmony, note clusters, appoggiaturas, suspensions, augmented and diminished chords, Tierce de Picardie and false relation [Star Wars and Release], and their relationship to sequences, dominant preparation, Neapolitan harmony, 7th chords, extension chords and harmonic pacing [Pathetique Sonata, Samba Em Preludio and Killer Queen].  Tonality, which builds on the understanding of major and minor keys from Years 7, 8 and 9, uses the circle of fifths [Brandenburg Concerto and Music for A While], bitonality and ambiguous tonality [Star Wars] as the basis for the examination of wide-ranging modulations, enharmonic changes and Neapolitan relationships [Pathetique Sonata], the pentatonic minor key [Release] and incomplete tonal endings [Samba Em Preludio].  This organization is shown in the Progression in KS4 Music Spirals.

At GCSE level, pupils must be able to:

  • Listen attentively to unfamiliar music from all four Areas of Study;
  • Identify and describe the musical elements, using musical language and staff notation;
  • Critically appraise the music from different study pieces showing understanding of:
    • the form and structure of the music
    • appropriate musical vocabulary for each work
    • stylistic features of the music
    • conventions used in different times and places
    • how the music relates to the context in which it was created
    • how to express and justify their opinions and preferences

Teaching of the Areas of Study is shared between the Director of Music and the Assistant Director of Music, with the former focusing on Performing, and the latter on Composing. 

Key Stage 5

At Key Stage 5 pupils build on their GCSE studies, consolidating, developing and applying more advanced performing, composing, and listening and appraising skills through the study of set works and related wider listening. In Years 12 and 13 students follow the Edexcel 9MU0 Music A-Level course. This leads on well from the Edexcel GCSE course as students again analyse, perform and compose music building on what they have already learned. There are three components in the specification:

Component 1: Performance (30%)

Students perform as a soloist and/or as part of an ensemble. The programme of music must be at least 8 minutes in length. This is to be performed as a “Recital”. The level of difficulty of the music played should be either ABRSM / Trinity Guildhall Grade 7 or Grade 8.

Component 2: Composition (30%)

Students have to produce two compositions.  One is a free composition in the style and technique of their choice.  The second is based on a formal brief which is set by the exam board.  The total time across both compositions must be at least six minutes.

Component 3: Appraising Music (40%)

This unit is assessed by examination, with listening and written questions using excerpts of music. Students explore six areas of study, each with three set works (Vocal Music, Instrumental Music, Music for Film, Popular Music and Jazz, Fusions, and New Directions), considering musical detail, analysis and aspects of social and historical context. Pupils also apply the knowledge learnt to unfamiliar works.

Year 12

Pupils study J.S. Bach's cantata Ein Feste Burg, Vaughan Williams' On Wenlock Edge, Clara Wieck-Schumann's Piano Trio in G Minor, Op. 17, First Movement, and Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique. Pupils also study Debussy's Estampes, Danny Elfman's Batman Returns, and Psycho by Bernard Hermann. Study of the set works is complemented by listening to and analysing related musical works, and performance and composition activities.

Year 13

Pupils study Kate Bush's Hounds of Love, Revolver by The Beatles, Anoushka Shankar's Breathing Under Water, Kaija Saariaho’s Petals, for Violoncello and Live Electronics, and Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring. Study of the set works is again complemented by listening to, and analysing, related musical works, and performance and composition activities.

The A-Level curriculum builds on knowledge and understanding already learnt at GCSE level, often challenging pre-conceived ideas about the musical elements.  Microtonality, Aleatoricism, Hexatonicism, folk music and programmatic techniques [Symphonie Fantastique, Estampes, The Rite of Spring, Breathing Under Water, Back In The Day and Petals] build on the melodic techniques already associated with Pitch, and irregular metres, aleatoricism, metrical absence, stresses which suggest different time signatures, asymmetric accents and displaced emphasis [The Rite of Spring, Back In The Day and Petals] challenge the perception of Rhythm and Metre from set works such as Defying Gravity, Star Wars, Brandenburg Concerto Number 5 and Music For A While

New symbols for Dynamics [Petals], rubato treatment of Tempo [Breathing Under Water], and orchestration of different Timbres [The Rite of Spring] are studied, alongside aspects of Texture including acoustic and electronic textures, relative densities of sound and multi-layered accompaniments [Petals]. Structural manipulation using incomplete ternary form, modified strophic form, micro-macrocosmic design and fractals [Petals] is complemented by subversive aspects of Harmony which include enharmonic chords, quartal and quintal harmony [The Rite of Spring] and sus and slash chords [Back in The Day, Hounds of Love and Revolver].  Tonality is challenged through tonal absence, avoidance of the dominant chord, polytonality and tonal ‘landmarks’ [Psycho, The Rite of Spring and Petals].  This organization is shown in the Progression in KS5 Music Spirals.

Pupils are able to communicate about music using appropriate music-specific vocabulary. Class sizes are small (typically between six and ten pupils) which affords significant one-to-one supervision and support. Teaching of the Areas of Study is shared between the Director and Assistant Director of Music, with the former focusing on Performing and the latter on Composing.  Technology is used to enhance musical learning through the Music ICT Suite.  Cross-curricular work, the social, moral, spiritual and cultural links with music, Literacy and Numeracy and preparation for future careers are embedded in the Scheme of Learning.

Planning, organising and the delivery of the whole curriculum is reviewed constantly, and staff research a wide and flexible choice of academic course options in line with the 11-19 Curriculum which offer the most suitable combinations and pathways for pupils.  Musical progression at all levels is assessed against a Flight Path which is allocated to each pupil at the start of the course, and which is based on the pupil’s prior attainment. 

Pupils’ development both within and between key stages is supported through a wide range of one-to-one peripatetic music lessons and stimulating extra-curricular opportunities such as House Music and the Christmas concert, and large numbers of pupils enter for Associated Board and Trinity Guildhall graded examinations, including Grade 5 Music Theory. Pupils’ routes into employment and further and higher education are supported through strong links with high schools and with Further and Higher Education Institutions. 


Key Stage 3 Music

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GCSE Music

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A-Level Music

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A-Level numbers show an upward trend with an uptake of 3 students in 2021, 6 in 2022 and 7 in 2023.  There are currently 13 pupils studying A-Level Music.

On average 50% of the A-Level Music leavers continue their Music studies formally at either university, conservatoire or music college, with a much higher figure continuing their musical involvement on an extra-curricular level.

The subject also benefits from high uptake of peripatetic music lessons throughout the school, with approximately one in five pupils taking individual instrumental or singing lessons.  Pupil Premium funds are used to subsidise peripatetic music lessons for Pupil Premium students.

Approximately one third of the school community is typically involved in the annual House Music competition, with over one hundred pupils regularly participating in the annual Christmas, Spring and Summer Concerts.  Large numbers of pupils also participate in the annual School (Drama) Production and regular foreign music tours.

What Makes A Good Music Student?

There are certain characteristics which help to set up music students for success and enable music students to fulfill their potential when studying formally for both GCSE and A-Level qualifications.  These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Practical music performance skills to a standard of at least the equivalent of ABRSM / Trinity Guildhall Grade 3 for GCSE Music, and Grade 5 for A Level.
  • A good working knowledge of traditional notation and the willingness to extend this.
  • A willingness to participate in extra-curricular music to improve ensemble skills (e.g. Senior Choir, Orchestra, Concert Band, House Music Competition).
  • The desire to know more about music of all types – to listen to it, study it and read about it.

If you have any questions about the suitability of your child to study Music, or about the curriculum, please contact the Director of Music via e-mail at

Extra-Curricular Music

The Music Department offers varied and vibrant extra-curricular opportunities which involve pupils of all abilities and ages.  Participants are drawn not only from pupils who are studying Music at GCSE and A-Level, but also include many pupils who have instrumental and singing tuition in school, and others who simply enjoy performing music.

The extra-curricular calendar for 2023-24 comprises:


Tutor Time (8.35am-8.55am)

Lunchtime (1.30pm-2.15pm)


Clarinet Group 1

String Orchestra


Clarinet Group 2

Jazz Group

Coursework Support


Concert Band 2

Senior Orchestra

Junior Choir

Saxophone Ensemble


Flute Ensemble

Brass Ensemble

Senior Choir


Concert Band 1

Primo Strings (Grade 0-4)

Grade 5 Theory

'Ad Lib Friday'

House Music Rehearsals (September-October): morning breaks, lunchtimes and after school by arrangement (House Captains)

Pupils also use the Music Department for regular smaller ensemble rehearsals such as string quartets, vocal ensembles and brass quintets, several of which are supervised by Music Department staff.

Choirs, Orchestras & Bands

The Senior Choir consists of over 40 talented singers, including ex-choristers, singing 4-part repertoire. The Senior Choir is involved in many of the School’s services, including those at Peterborough Cathedral. Recent concerts by the Senior Choir have included works by Vivaldi (Gloria), Fauré (Requiem) and Whittaker (Sleep).

Please use this link to listen to the Senior Choir performing Bruckner’s motet Locus Iste.

The Orchestra comprises approximately 50 of the most able performers in the School. Recent performances include Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No.4, Mozart’s 4th Horn Concerto and Venus from Holst’s The Planets Suite.

Please use this link to listen to the Senior Orchestra performing Mozart’s Fourth Horn Concerto.

The Senior Concert Band comprises approximately fifty of the most talented musicians who perform a varied repertoire from Gershwin’s Symphonic Portrait and Rhapsody in Blue to Sibelius’ Finlandia.

Please use this link to listen to the Senior Concert Band performing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

Performing Opportunities

The Music Department has a busy annual calendar of concerts and services.  A typical academic year comprises:

Autumn Term                     

Christmas Concert at Peterborough Cathedral

End of Term Christmas Service - please click on the links below to listen to soloists from the School's Senior Choir performing in the Christmas Service in December 2020:

'Ave Maria' (J.S. Bach/C. Gounod)

'O Holy Night' (A. Adam)

'The Angels' Carol' (J. Rutter)

Spring Term

Mid-Term Concert

End of Term Concert

Summer Term

End of Term Concert

The Music Department is also involved in various other concerts each academic year e.g. the Remembrance Concert (Autumn 2014), the Howard Goodall Mixed Voices Concert (Spring 2015), the concert at Castle Acre Church (Summer 2016) and the Peterborough Hospital Carol Service (Winter 2016).

Pupils are regularly invited to perform at various high-profile local events e.g. the Petriburgians’ Reunion (Summer 2016) and the Schola Regia Ladies Festival (Spring 2017).

The Music Department contributes towards regular Drama productions.  Previous shows have included Les Misérables, Oliver!The Sound of MusicJoseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Bugsy Malone, Grease, Little Shop Of Horrors and We Will Rock You.

Talented pianists are offered the opportunity to accompany hymn singing in twice-weekly whole school assemblies and the whole School takes part in regular hymn singing practices led by the Director of Music.

House Music

The highlight of the School’s year is the House Music Competition.  The event commences with the solo competitions where each of the School’s Houses, led by their House Captains, puts forward their best musicians in the categories of strings, woodwind, brass, piano, percussion, singing and guitar.  A winner is selected from each category and the overall winner for the best performance is then invited to perform at the main House Music event which takes place in October and typically attracts an audience of around 1,800.  The points from the solo competition contribute to the overall scores.

At the main event, which in recent years has taken place at either The Kingsgate Church and Conference Centre  or The Cresset Theatre in Peterborough, the House Captains host performances by the Orchestra, Choir, Junior Department and Band from each of the four Houses.

The competition is judged by an external guest, typically a Head of Music from another school or a professional musician, by invitation from the Director of Music.

Instrumental and Singing Teaching

The King’s School offers weekly one-to-one tuition on a range of classical and popular instruments through a team of visiting specialist peripatetic teachers.  A list of the current visiting teachers and their instruments can be found at the bottom of this page.

Grade Examinations

The Music Department regularly hosts and enters pupils for Associated Board and Trinity Guildhall music examinations.  To support pupils in their musical development the Department also offers weekly Grade 5 Theory music classes.

Music Scholarships

Access to the King’s School is available through a small number of music scholarships which are offered annually.  The Music Department administers the auditions each October.  For further information please contact the Director of Music via e-mail at

Associations and Professional Links

The Music Department values its links with other schools and organisations, and these support the development and enrich the experience of its musicians. 

Peterborough Cathedral

The King’s School greatly values its close links with Peterborough Cathedral.  There is close collaboration between the Cathedral music team, led by the Cathedral’s Director of Music Tansy Castledine, and The King’s School Music Department. The Cathedral Choristers rehearse in Madeley House each morning, and perform in some School concerts and services during the year.  The musical education of the Choristers is shared between the Cathedral and The King’s School.

Out-of-Hours Music Tuition

The Music Department hosts ex-Cambridgeshire Music Service Teachers who deliver lessons to pupils from The Kings School and elsewhere after School hours at Madeley House. Lessons are available in Piano and Violin.

Peterborough Music Hub

Peterborough Music Hub runs a wide variety of opportunities including concerts, workshops and projects in which pupils can participate. The Hub also offers opportunities for teacher CPD, networking, sharing of good practice and resources, and pupil participation in the Peterborough Music School, which meets on Saturdays.

Oxford and Cambridge Universities

The King’s School Music Department has links with both Oxford (Christ Church and Merton College) and Cambridge Universities (Trinity, St. John’s and Homerton Colleges). The Director of Music attends outreach programmes, and pupils regularly visit these and other colleges to have formal interviews and informal meetings with the colleges’ Directors of Music about singing and organ scholarships.

Local Schools

The Music Department has links with other local schools such as Stamford Endowed Schools, Stamford College, Oundle School, Uppingham School and Leicester Grammar School.

Cambridgeshire Music Partnership for Teacher Training

The King’s School Music Department believes strongly in supporting teachers who are undertaking their teacher qualifications, and has a relationship with the Cambridgeshire Music Partnership for Teacher Training. The Music Department frequently provides the opportunity for future teachers to work as part of the King’s School Music team at Madeley House to enable them to gain valuable experience in preparing lessons and delivering classroom teaching.  This ensures that they are developing the requisite skills to support their future careers.


At the discretion of the Director of Music, School Half and Full Colours can be awarded to pupils for outstanding commitment to Music.  Criteria for receiving an award include regular attendance at one or more of the Department’s extra-curricular groups for the duration of a pupil’s time at the School, pupils’ input into the annual House Music Competition and involvement in School productions. Presentations take place in whole-school assemblies, typically at the end of the Autumn and Spring Terms.

Music Awards

In addition to School Colours, the Music Department has several other prestigious awards e.g. the Michael Lamb Organ Scholarship, which is bestowed each year to the most talented Organist, as jointly agreed by the Directors of Music from The King’s School and the Peterborough Cathedral.  The scholarship recipient receives an embossed volume of organ music by J.S. Bach, and financial support for formal organ lessons.

Music Prefects

Senior pupils who are heavily involved in the musical life of the school may be invited to become Music Prefects.  This important role involves supporting the running of the Music Department through leading rehearsals, taking registers for extra-curricular ensembles, producing promotional material for concerts, cataloguing the material in the Music Library, being a point of contact for younger students who have questions about the Music Department and generally being an advocate for Music within the School.

Instrument Hire

A limited number of School instruments are available to hire for a small termly hire charge. Instruments, which may be used for instrumental practice, rehearsals and examinations, can be hired through consultation with the pupil’s peripatetic teacher and the Director of Music. 

Department Staff

Dr Martin Ratcliffe (MLR): Director of Music and Head of Music Department
Mr Gareth Jenkins (GJJ): Assistant Director of Music and Academic Head of Year 8

Visiting Music Teachers

Mr J Bamforth (Electric Guitar / Bass Guitar / Classical Guitar)
Mrs K Blumenthal (Singing)
Mr M Bright (Percussion - Timpani & Kit)
Mrs T Castledine (Organ)
Mrs F Henderson (Flute / Clarinet / Oboe)
Mr M Jewkes (Saxophone)
Miss C McAuliffe (Cello)
Mrs A Smith (Violin)
Mr C Torr (Piano)
Mrs J Turner (Clarinet)
Mr S Walton (Trumpet / Cornet / Trombone / Euphonium / Tuba / French Horn)
Mrs N Weston (Violin / Viola)
Mr P Weston (Violin / Viola)