Welcome to the Music Department

When was the last time you heard one of your favorite songs – one so good that it made you tap your toes, sway your hips and maybe even sing along?  If it’s been a while, it’s time to plug back into your jam.

Whether we’re listening to music in the car, at the gym, on the train, during work, while we study, while we’re cooking, while we’re cleaning, or just walking around the supermarket, it’s always there. It’s what we do when we’re happy or sad, and it’s become our self-care; our time to be alone and drown out the stress and the world around us.


The reason to learn Music is to make Music. Music touches a part of our psyche that helps us regulate our lives. Music helps us understand and express our moods and attitudes. Music helps us reorganize our thoughts and feelings while keeping us on track. Music allows us to respond appropriately in social structure that is often confusing and complex.


Whether you play an instrument, conduct a symphony or just listen to your headphones while dancing in the kitchen, as long as the music is a part of your life, you are partaking of true happiness. You have found a mate for your soul.”[1]


Our aim is to enrich the experience of every GHS student; providing music education to foster and develop our young people in the arts, “bring the gifts out and make them viable[2]



Music is taught throughout the school and encourages students to develop their musical potential by focusing on the three fundamental activities of performing, com

posing and listening.  Our young people are also encouraged to participate in musical activities outside the classroom including School Choir and Ukulele groups and we have a range of instrumental lessons available.




Our Staff:

Mrs G Mercer (Head of Music)


Visiting Instrumental Staff:

Mrs C Kelly (Piano)

Mr M Hewitt (Guitar)

Miss D Mercer (Singing & Clarinet)

Mr A Stewart (Drum Kit)
























At KS3 we encourage our young people to engage in Music making with an air of mutual respect.

Students have the opportunity to explore and combine the core elements of Music with diverse local and global cultures and traditions.


Year 8 Year 9 Year 10
Music Notation 1 & Keyboards Music Notation 2 & Keyboards Music Notation 3 & Keyboards
Sonority City – exploring Instruments of the Orchestra Hooks & Riffs – exploring Repeated Musical Patterns Soundtracks – exploring Film Music
Building Bricks – exploring the Elements of Music Form & Structure – exploring Musical Structures RAP & Hip Hop – exploring Rhythm & Poetry
What Makes a Good Song? –  exploring Popular Song Minimalism Motifs –exploring iPhone, Google Apps and Ringtones Computer & Video Games – exploring Global Computer & Video Game Music
World Music 1 – exploring the Music of the British Isles World Music 3 – exploring the Music of America: Blues & Jazz World Music 3 –  exploring the Music of Africa, India, China, Caribbean




The course for Years 11 & 12 prepares pupils for CCEA GCSE Music*.  All pupils who can sing or play any instrument are eligible to do this course and it is suitable for everybody who enjoys music – listening to music, composing, playing an instrument or using music technology.

Students explore contrasting music from a range of context, for example; classical, pop, film and traditional.  This deepens their appreciation of the diverse heritage of music.  It also promotes their personal, social, intellectual and cultural development.

Through the performance element of the course, students develop the skills they need to communicate effectively as musicians.  This increases their self-confidence and enhances their presentation, communication and evaluation skills.  Students who play music as part of a group develop team-working skills, self-discipline, self-esteem and the ability to listen to others.

The opportunity to write their own music allows students to explorer their creativity.

Studying Music opens up many opportunities in the field of music and performing arts, both in the world of employment and further study.


*CCEA GCSE Music from Sept 2017 – The specification is available online at ww.ccea.org.uk



Three key areas are assessed at GCSE Level – these areas are as follows

Component 1: Performing and Appraising – worth 35% of final GCSE

  • External examination assessed by a visiting examiner
  • Students present one solo and one ensemble performance.
  • The combined duration of the performances should be no longer than 6 minutes.
  • Students discuss and evaluate performances with the visiting examiner.
  • Discussion lasts approximately 3 minutes.

Component 2: Composing and Appraising – worth 30% of final GCSE

  • This is a Controlled Assessment task which is carried out in a controlled environment led by the class teacher.
  • Students create two
  • One is a free choice undertaken in Year 11
  • One is in response to a pre-release stimulus undertaken in Year 12.
  • Teachers mark the tasks, and CCEA moderate the results.

Component 3: Listening and Appraising – worth 35% of final GCSE

  • External written examination lasting 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Students answer questions based on familiar and unfamiliar music relating to the Areas of Study.

Areas of Study

  • Western Classical Music 1600-1900
    • Handel: For Unto Us a Child is Born from Messiah
    • Mozart: Horn Concerto No. 4, third movement
    • Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique, fourth movement
  • Film Music
    • Coates: March (The Dam Busters) from The Dam Busters
    • Williams: Superman Theme from Superman
    • Horner: Young Peter from The Amazing Spider-Man
  • Musical Traditions of Ireland
    • Beoga: Prelude Polkas: Prelude Polka, Paddy’s Polka No. 2 and Millstream Reel
    • Stonewall: Fife Medley: Boys of Belfast and The Girl I Left Behind
  • Popular Music from 1980-present day
    • Eurythmics: Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)
    • Ash: Burn Baby Burn
    • Florence and the Machine: Cosmic Love.



Music is one of the largest industries in the world offering a variety of job opportunities.  

The most obvious careers are those directly involved in creating and performing Music; Instrumentalists, Singers, Accompanists, Teachers, Conductors, Composers, Arrangers.

For those with a background in music technology, there is the possibility of employment in the recording industry as a Composer, Producer or Sound Engineer.

Instrument making and repair are sometimes overlooked and yet provide a lucrative income because of the specialised nature of the work.


Related career areas include Arts Management and Music Publishing, Musicology and Music Journalism.

Music is also a rewarding leisure activity for those who take part in choirs, bands and other amateur activities or simply enjoy attending concerts or listening to music.


Students who have studied Music at GHS have gone on to study Music and gained access to their chosen career paths eg;



Rachel (McClure) McDermott BMus(Hons) MDes PhD

After leaving GHS, I went to the University of Ulster and completed a degree in Music. I was always really fascinated by the technical side of music, which led me to complete a Masters in Sound Design.

I got a distinction in my Masters, and as a result of my research and grades I was offered a fully funded place on the PhD programme. This took me 3 years then to complete. My research focused on soundscapes and the sounds of Northern Ireland. You can see a copy of my thesis here:


During my PhD (and for a few years after) I lectured part-time on the Music and Creative Technology courses at University of Ulster (Magee).

I then took up a full-time position at the Nerve Centre, where I am Partnership Coordinator, running and organising a team to deliver workshops in both Primary and Post-Primary schools in music and sound, film and animation, coding and robotics.



Matt Weir

When I left GHS I went to London and studied at Drum Tech (Thames Valley University) gaining an HND in percussion studies.

I worked with and ran Nick Lloyd Webbers recording studio in Soho for 4 years.  During that time, I engineered sessions for BBC, ITV, HBO, Universal and Island Records.  I worked on Bryan Adams Ultimate collection, engineering 3 new tracks that appeared next to his greatest hits 2018.

I engineered and produced Irelands Eurovision entry in 2018.  I produced new music for X-Factors finalists in 2018.  My work also involved writing and production for former Glee Cast members 2017-2019 and writing and producing music for major labels in 2019 (Good Solider, Universal, Concorde, BMI).  Music I have been involved with has had over 20 million streams on digital platforms.  I’ve worked with quite a few well known artists including Mik, Nerina Pallot, Billy Ocean, Curtis Stigers, KT Tunstall, Una Healy (The Saturdays), Bap Kennedy and Nathan Carter.

I continue to live in London where I co-own and run a production studio working with major labels and publishers throughout the UK and Europe.



Sarah (McDonald) Smith BMus(Hons) PGCE

IMAGE 14 After leaving GHS, having studied Music as one of my A levels, I began a 3 year Music Degree at University of Ulster, Magee.  I graduated with a BA (Hons) in Music before embarking on the PGCE Primary Teaching course at University of Ulster, Coleraine.

I started my career as a P1 teacher in Ashgrove Primary School before joining the EA Literacy Service to teach children with specific literacy difficulties. The children I currently teach attend 10 of the primary schools local to GHS.

I am forever grateful to the wonderful teachers in GHS Music Department for their commitment and encouragement in developing my musical abilities which led me to teach piano, play in a brass band and currently lead a praise group.


[1] Sherrie Hurd, A.A.o

[2] Prince EA, Spoken Word Artist