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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 the Burford Institute of Music  was established to bring together music tuition in the area and to provide access for 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.  A significant number of students in each year group study music at GCSE, with many going on to study at A-level and some on to university. Students can have individual and small group lessons on particular instruments either in school or at home.

Staff and facilities

The Music Department is led by Mr Frankcom. He is supported by two further teachers and 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.



Alongside music lessons provided through the curriculum, the department runs a number of large ensembles including a Symphony Orchestra, a Training Orchestra, A Symphonic Wind Band, a Jazz Band and a Senior String Ensemble. The Music Department stages 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.


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, Les Miserables and Oliver.  Our production for 2019 was Beauty and the Beast.


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 Years 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. All students in Year 7 take part in a Choral Competition during term 1 – an event to which parents are invited.

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 by the end of Year 9 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 ABRSM Grade V Theory Exam, enabling them to move on to higher grades.

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


Key Stage 5:  AQA A-level Music


In Year 12 students follow an intensive musicianship programme which enhances musical theory and their knowledge of the background of musical development. This forms the foundation for students studying A-level and is an extension of the GCSE Music course.  They are offered the opportunity to attend lectures at St. Anne’s College, Oxford to challenge and extend their understanding of compositional techniques, as delivered through the Burford Institute of Music.

In Year 13 the focus is on composition – one completed to a brief set by the exam board and a second which is ‘free’. Students also perform a 10-15 minute recital on their main instrument. During the course they develop both as composers and performers of excellence and this enables them to continue on to read Music at university should they choose.


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