Welcome to the area dedicated to Music. Should you need further information or advice please do not hesitate to contact the Music Department.



Music today at St Columb's College continues the long tradition of fostering and developing talent while embracing new curricular and technological changes. In particular this subject encourages and helps develop skills which enable pupils to:

• self-evaluate
• be creative in a traditional and technological manner
• embrace new and challenging music
• develop thinking skills and personalities capabilities
• become more confident through the various musical experiences
• develop awareness and understanding of the skills required to be successful within the music industry
• develop skills central to understanding and responding to music

Members of the Department

Mrs Margaret Burns (Acting Head of Subject)

Ms Priscilla Connolly


The Department has an extensive list of Education Authority and private tutors.

Learning an instrument at St Columb's College

If your son receives instrumental lessons in primary school from the Education Authority, these lessons will be continued at St Columb's College. All pupils in Year 8 will have the chance to learn a new instrument if they wish to do so. This tuition is normally offered at the beginning of term 2 and comes in the form of a weekly shared lesson in a rotating timetable.  Tuition is provided in the following areas:

• Acoustic & Electric Guitar
• Bass Guitar
• Brass (Cornet, Horn, Trombone, Trumpet & Tuba)
• Drum Kit
• DJing
• Piano
• Strings (Violin, Viola, Cello & Double bass)
• Woodwind (Clarinet, Flute & Saxophone)


The department, consisting of three classrooms, is well resourced with two keyboards suits, an iMac suite (with access to another suite), eight practice rooms including a drum kit, two recording areas, an instrumental storeroom, an extensive audio storeroom with over 500 cds and a DJing room equipped with electric, bass and acoustic guitars. Currently all Year 8 & 9 students have iPads which they use for composing (GarageBand) and as a resource (eBook).

Extra-curricular Activities

The department members commit daily to music activities during and after school.

Monday - Multi-track Recording / Instrumental Work: Ms Priscilla Connolly (Music Rm 2)
Tuesday - Junior Wind Ensembles: Mrs Margaret Burns (Music Rm 3)
Wednesday - Choir: Ms Priscilla Connolly (Music Rm 2)
Thursday - Traditional Music Group: Ms Priscilla Connolly (Rm 1)
String Orchestra: (Rm 2)
Senior Wind Band: Mrs Margaret Burns (Rm 3)

*Rock ensembles have access to practice rooms throughout the week*

** The department also has a Staff Traditional Group**


Key Events in the Department

  • Monthly lunchtime recitals in the Lecture Theatre
  • Musicals: past musicals have included Les Miserables (2004), Jesus Christ Superstar (2006), Big River (2008), Oliver! (2010) and Joseph and The Amazin' Technicolour Dreamcoat (2012) and Jekyll & Hyde (2015)
  • Spring Concerts
  • Year masses including the Year 14 Valedictory Mass
  • Carol services for all year groups

Teaching and Learning – An Overview

All pupils experience Music at Key Stage 3 with a double lesson per week; GCSE and A’ Level are offered as option subjects thereafter.

Year 8

Pupils will be introduced to the fundamentals of Music. The skills of listening, composing and performing will be developed. The curriculum will involve composing using websites activities and GarageBand, performing on recorder and keyboard and listening to a variety of musical styles. Pupils will become reflective learners, able to assess their strengths and weaknesses, and to formulate targets for improvement. All Year 8 pupils will have the opportunity to learn an instrument of their choice.

Year 9

In this year students will amongst other activities study musical styles from around the world, compose a RAP based on an environmental theme and experience performing as part of an ensemble.

Year 10

Some of the foci for this year include an introduction to the Music Industry and associated careers, learning how to multi-track and input live tracks and the study and performance of rock and pop music.

Useful Websites: www.classicsforkids.com www.creatingmusic.com

GCSE Music

The Music GCSE course is a popular choice at St Columb’s with approx. 30 students each year electing to undertake this examination. The basic breakdown is as follows:

1. Listening Component (involving 2 listening tests) = 35%

2. Composing (coursework) = 30%

3. Performing (solo & ensemble) = 35%

Please click on the link below for further details and resources; www.rewardinglearning.org.uk/microsites/music/ - Click GCSE option

Also try: BBC - GCSE Bitesize - Music (www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/music)   A’ Level Music

The AS and A2 level in Music each consist of two compulsory units.  Below is a summary of the units. (AS 1/A2 1) Unit 1 = “Making & Appraising Music”

Within this unit, you will be able to choose one of the following options.

1.    Opt. A = Solo or Ensemble performance + composition task

2.    Opt. B = Solo or Ensemble performance + multi-tracking task

3.    Opt. C = Solo of Ensemble performance + sequencing

4.    Opt. D = A Composition task + Solo or Ensemble performance

Performance Advice

*Performances include a short interview, which will be assessed. Composition and music technology also include a commentary/annotation AS Level: Minimum performing standard at AS is Grade 4 and non-classical players e.g. rock musicians will be guided by the teacher in charge.  Students who perform at Grade 5 have access to full marks in performing. Credit will be given to candidates who perform at a standard above grade 5.

A2 Level: Minimum performing standard at A2 is Grade 6 and non-classical players e.g. rock musicians will be advised by the teacher in charge.  Students who perform at Grade 6 have access to full marks in performing. Credit will be given to candidates who perform at a standard above grade 6.

(AS 2/A2 2)Unit 2 = “Responding to Music”

1.    Test of aural perception lasting 1 hour 2.    Written examination lasting 75mins (AS) or 90mins (A2)

www.rewardinglearning.org.uk/microsites/music/ - Click GCE option

A new Advanced Level for Music is now in draft form and teaching of this new syllabus will begin in September 2016.