Music is central to the life of Burford School. The carefully structured music pathway available to students from Year 7 right through to the end of ‘A’ Level offers a rich and exciting journey which encompasses performance, production, recording and masterclasses. In 2014, because of the strength of the music tuition at Burford, the school was asked to become a ‘music hub’ for the area. The Burford Institute of Music was established to bring together music tuition in the area and to provide access, students, to an exceptional range of musical opportunities.

The extensive range of activities and events provided by the department results in a high proportion of students taking part in music in some form or another during their time at Burford.  An average of forty students in each year group study music at GCSE, with many going on to study at ‘A’ level and some on to university. Students have individual and small group lessons on particular instruments either in school or at home.  We have a large number of peripatetic teachers who come into school and give lessons in our music cottage and they can be contacted directly.

Staff and facilities

BurfordSchool-Music-Portraits-lowres-054The Music Department is led by Mr Frankcom:  He is supported by two further teachers.  In addition there is an extensive team of peripatetic specialists who visit the school to provide individual music tuition in a wide range of instruments, including voice. Housed in its own building, the Music Department consists of a large studio with classrooms and practice rooms.  A further separate music school, with rooms for individual tuition, is devoted to peripatetic lessons.


Burford Institute of Music 

Burford-logo-Blue-PrintThe Burford Institute of Music is a newly established programme for students of music offering access and opportunities to a range of musical experiences not generally open to school students. These include workshops by visiting specialists and opportunities to gain experience of playing in professional concerts alongside students from such establishments as the Royal college of Music.  Master classes at St Anne’s College, Oxford offers students regular sessions throughout the year extending their knowledge, understanding and experience of music alongside undergraduates. Students on this programme receive sponsorship to participate in County Music Ensembles and a contribution is made to extend the duration of their individual music lessons.


Alongside music lessons provided through the curriculum, the department runs several choirs, a number of large ensembles including a Symphonic Wind Band, a Jazz Band, a Senior String Ensemble and our Junior Orchestra and Senior Orchestra. The Music Department stage concerts throughout the year within the community, as well as within school, providing students with the experience of performing to outside audiences, parents, family and friends, prospective pupils and fellow students.  Annual musical events and competitions include ‘Star for a Night’, ‘A Christmas Miscellany’ and ‘An Evening with All that Jazz.’


Music Residential

During the summer term the Music Residential, in North Wales, allows around a hundred students to immerse themselves in music, playing new material, discovering new sounds and exploring new ideas. The grand finale to this is the annual Gala Concert open to parents, visitors and students on the last evening of the summer term.


Biennial Musical Production

Every other year the department stages a full-scale West End Musical. This is a significant event involving many departments and allows students with a range of different strengths to gain experience of working together on a major musical project.  Staged over a week the productions draw in around 1500 visitors. Past musicals have included Hairspray, Grease and Les Miserables.  In 2015 we staged Sunshine on Leith.


Key Stage 3

Music is a compulsory subject at Key Stage 3 with three lessons over a fortnight taught in Year 7 and a weekly lesson in Year 8 and 9.  The focus is on performance, composition and listening.  Students undertake topics which expand their musical knowledge in ways which are engaging and enjoyable. They also gain an understanding of the theory of music from the outset.

During Year 9 students have the opportunity to choose to take Music at GCSE; a pre-requisite for ‘A’ Level.  It is recommended that students have reached at least Grade 3 in one or more instruments if selecting Music at GCSE.

Key Stage 4: AQA GCSE Music

Students who study music at GCSE have the opportunity to explore and develop their musical skills through group performance and individual study.   At GCSE more emphasis is put on individual learning, with a large coursework element based on performance and composition.  In addition, weekly theory lessons are available to prepare students for their Grade 5 Theory Exam, enabling them to move on to higher grades.  Students are offered the opportunity to attend the lectures at St. Anne’s College, Oxford to challenge and extend their understanding of compositional techniques, as delivered through the Burford Institute of Music.

The content of the AQA GCSE is explained in detail to parents at a Parent Forum in November.


Key Stage 5:  AQA ‘A’ Level Music


The ‘A’ Level course starts with the AS level in Year 12.  This forms the foundation for students who continue on to A2 and is an extension of the GCSE Music course. The focus is on developing students’ knowledge of musical history and analysis. During the course they develop both as composers and performers of excellence and this enables them to continue on read Music at university.


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