At Monmouth School for Girls music plays an equally rich and important role in the life of the school and girls are encouraged to take up instruments, join orchestras and ensembles, sing and perform.

Music is the lifeblood and the heartbeat of the school. At Monmouth School for Girls we possess a talented team of instrumental and singing teachers, providing tuition for a large proportion of the girls. Lessons are usually individual (although shared lessons can be requested in certain circumstances) and last for 30 minutes. In Years 6-9 lessons are arranged during the normal school timetable, but are rotated so that the same subject lesson is not missed on consecutive weeks. In Year 10 and above, lessons are usually arranged in lunchtimes, free periods and after school to avoid missing subject lessons.

There are many opportunities for performance and every girl has the chance to gain experience in performing; there are high profile formal concerts as well as more relaxed ones aimed at less experienced musicians.

Our aim in the Music Department is to develop a deep understanding and appreciation of different kinds of music and to fire up enthusiasm to look a little further. We hope that, through studying music, girls will develop broader life-skills and attributes including critical and creative thinking, aesthetic sensitivity and emotional and cultural development. We explore the diverse and dynamic heritage of music and the essential role it has played, and continues to play, in the spiritual, moral, ethical, social and cultural lives of people from around the world, both in the past and right now.


Years 7-8

In Years 7-8, our pupils study a range of musical styles from Baroque to the modern day. Lessons combine practical elements (composition and performance) and appraising. In Year 7, all pupils have the opportunity to learn and perform in a mass vocal work, in liaison with Monmouth School for Boys, senior choirs and local choral societies. We encourage pupils to explore and develop their own musical interests and there is plenty of opportunity for them to form their own chamber ensembles, or perform in a variety of circumstances.

Year 9

In Year 9, pupils are able to choose from one of the following options:

Course 1: General Appreciation

This course allows pupils to develop their knowledge and experience of music in the following areas:

  • Performing
  • Composing
  • Appraising

Pupils will study a broad range of musical styles through both practical and theoretical lessons, which follow a number of contrasting areas of study. These range from Baroque Music to Film Music and will encourage appreciation and understanding of different musical genres.  There will be the opportunity for pupils to develop their knowledge of music theory within this class.

Course 2: Song Writing and Music Technology.

This is a course designed to develop pupils’ understanding and appreciation of popular musical styles, whilst allowing them to build up skills in Music Technology. Pupils will:

  • Learn how to analyse a range of popular musical styles.
  • Understand how song lyrics can be effectively fitted to a melody.
  • Investigate how music videos and marketing can be effective in music production.
  • Construct effective melody lines and chord structures.
  • Learn how to use Sibelius software in order to produce professional musical scores.
  • Perform on their chosen instrument/voice an arrangement of an existing popular song, or their own composition.
Eduqas GCSE Music: C660QS: Teaching award 

We offer the new Eduquas GCSE specification (accredited by Ofqual), which we believe allows all pupils to explore their own interests in a well balanced, exciting course. This specification gives candidates opportunities to develop broader life-skills and attributes including critical and creative thinking, aesthetic sensitivity and emotional and cultural development.

Performing Music 30% – 72 marks

Two contrasting performances, one solo and one as a member of an ensemble.

  • Total duration of performance time is 4-6 minutes
  • The standard of pieces should be broadly equivalent to grade 3 of the graded examinations.
  • One piece must be linked to one of the 4 Areas of Study.
  • Teacher assessed and externally moderated by a visiting moderator.

Composing music 30% – 72 marks

Two contrasting compositions. Total playing time of both compositions should be at least 3-6 minutes.

  • A composition which responds to a brief set by WJEC. The brief will be released during the first week of September in the academic year in which the assessment is to be taken. Learners select one from a choice of four briefs, each related to a different area of study.
  • 2: Free Composition. Learners will compose a piece of music in a style of their own choice. Learners will set their own brief for this composition. The brief itself is not assessed; however, learners are assessed on their musical response to the brief.
  • Learners are required to complete a signed log for each composition, outlining the process of development and refinement, which must be countersigned by the teacher to authenticate the process.

Appraising music 40% – 96 marks
  • 1½ hour listening / written examination. This examination will assess knowledge and understanding of music through four areas of study shown below.
  • This component encourages learners to develop skills in appraising music through the exploration of a wide variety of music linked to the four areas of study. Each area of study includes a list of terms focusing on particular musical knowledge and understanding.

All areas of the course are linked to the five Areas of Study:

  1. Musical Forms and Devices
    • A study of the music of the Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras.
    • This provides the context for a study of binary, ternary, minuet and trio, rondo, variation and strophic forms.
    • They are also encouraged to make links between music they listen to, pieces they perform and their own compositions, as well as music by composers from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries who use these forms and devices.
  2. Music for Ensemble
    • Music for ensemble forms the basis for a study of texture and sonority.
    • Through a study of diverse musical styles composed for ensemble, such as jazz and blues, musical theatre and chamber music, learners will consider how music is composed for small groups of instruments and voices
  3. Film Music
    • Through this area of study learners are encouraged to consider how music for film is created, developed and performed, and the impact this has on the audience. Learners will have the opportunity to compose and perform film music and are encouraged to use musical technology to create mood and atmosphere through engaging with the story of the film.
  4. Popular Music
    • Through this area of study learners are encouraged to explore the musical idioms associated with a variety of popular music, and they will have the opportunity to perform popular music as well as compose music associated with a popular music genre. Learners are also encouraged to use music technology, understanding the impact this has on the way music is developed and performed in popular music.
  5. Set Works
    • There is an interesting approach to set works with this specification.  Eduqas refers to them as ‘prepared extracts’ and there are only two (for the first and fourth areas of study).
    • Musical Forms and Devices
      • Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Movement 3, Minuet: Mozart
    • Popular Music
      • Since You’ve Been Gone: Rainbow

With such a diverse range of musical styles to study, perform and compose, the girls complete GCSE music possessing an exciting depth of knowledge and experience of the subject.

A level
Why study Music?

The broad aim of the course is to develop aural, historical and analytical, performing and composition skills to an advanced level.

Music is a highly fulfilling course for suitable candidates.  You might be a suitable candidate if you have taken Music at GCSE level and gained a Grade B or higher, but if you do not have Music GCSE you may still be a suitable candidate if you can demonstrate other levels of achievement, for example success at Grade 5 Music Theory and/or Grade 5 practical examinations.  You should consider taking Music A level if you have an interest in listening to and performing music of all styles.  Those who do best at Music A level tend to be proficient to Grade 5 on an instrument at the start of the course.

Students will need A level Music to enter a university or college to study music.  It can also be an exceptionally rewarding support subject and is compatible with a wide range of other disciplines.  Candidates will be expected to involve themselves in a range of extra-curricular musical activities in School.  Music A level can be a wonderful opportunity for academic and creative development within the same subject.

Head of Department: Mr D Harris

Course content

Board: Eduqas   A level Syllabus Code: A660PA or A660PB

Areas of study will vary between examination boards.

Eduqas areas of study are:

• AoS1: The Western Classical Tradition; particularly the development of the Symphony from 1750-1900) – set work Symphony No. 104 in D major, ‘London’ (Haydn), Symphony No. 4 (Mendelssohn)
• AoS2: Musical Theatre
• AoS3: Into the Twentieth Century including two set works: Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano, Movement II (Poulenc) and Three Nocturnes, Number 1, Nuages (Debussy)


Method of assessment

Component 1 – Performing

• Between 6-12 minutes, in which they showcase their skills as a solo and/or ensemble performer
• Assessed by visiting examiner

Component 2 – Composing

• Two or three compositions
• Total composition time between 4-10 minutes (depending on chosen weighting towards composition)
• At least one composition will be required to fit a technique-based brief set by the examination board
• Externally marked

Component 3 – Appraising

A 2¼ hour listening/written paper, in which familiar and unfamiliar pieces of music are used to explore the candidate’s understanding of how music works. The paper includes dictation, analysis and extended written response.


Combining and sharing the musical skills of the more advanced pupils from Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools is a fundamental part of the musical experience we offer here at both schools.

The HMSSO, Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools’ Symphony Orchestra, exists to bring the best players together in order to give them the opportunity to tackle some of the more challenging and rewarding music in the orchestral repertoire. The orchestra meets for three Sunday workshops, once in the Michaelmas term, and twice in the Lent term. The third and final workshop always takes place during the week of the Concert when HMSSO perform the chosen repertoire in public for the first time.

The control and directorship of the orchestra alternates between the two Schools. In 2014 HMSSO performed John Williams’ Superman March, Mendelssohn’s Fingal’s Cave, Walton’s Henry V Suite and Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise, at the Gala 400th Anniversary Concert held at the Wales’ Millennium Centre Cardiff on the 2nd of March. On this occasion we were delighted that Professor Jane Glover CBE, a former pupil of Monmouth School for Girls, who is an internationally renowned conductor, former Musical Director of the London Mozart Players and currently Director of Opera at the Royal Academy of Music, kindly consented to share her wealth of experience with the pupils by conducting Fingal’s Cave. In 2015 under the direction of David Lawson, Director of Music at Monmouth School for Boys, HMSSO performed Verdi’s La Forza del Destino OvertureDanse Macabre by Saint-Saëns, The Comedians by Kabalevsky and The Typewriter by Leroy Anderson. In 2016 under the direction of Amy Clouter, HMSSO performed Nimrod from Elgar’s Enigma Variations, the Intermezzo from the Háry János Suite by Kodaly, and Rodeo by Aaron Copland. In 2017, the orchestra performed in St David’s Hall as part of the celebrations for Monmouth School for Girls’ 125th Anniversary.

The Symphonic Winds and the Senior Strings are two ensembles which meet every week, and pupils of both schools of Grade 5 standard and above are invited to attend. There are regular workshops and concerts which take place throughout the year. There have been tours to Barcelona and Prague, and many awards have been won in the National Concert Band Festival which are held every year. In 2007-08 the prolific band composer Phillip Sparke was commissioned by Monmouth School for Boys to compose a piece of music for the Symphonic Winds. The result being A Monmouth Overture, which was performed at the Gala 400th Anniversary Concert held at the Wales’ Millennium Centre, Cardiff. Senior Strings also performed on this occasion and gave an exquisite performance of Elgar’s Serenade for Strings.

There is a rich variety of musical co-curricular groups, which rehearse weekly at lunchtimes or after school. These ensembles include:

  • Junior Singers
  • Concert Choir
  • Chamber Choir
  • Jazz Crusaders
  • Guitar Group
  • St Catherine’s Strings
  • Wind Band
  • Theory Club

Pupils are also encouraged to form their own chamber ensembles and time is dedicated towards coaching and providing appropriate performing opportunity.

Instrumental and Singing teachers 2020-21
Violin and Viola  Mr Christopher Horner
Violin  Mrs Rachel Underwood
Cello  Mrs Sara Greenwood
Cello  Mrs Rosie Walton
Guitar  Mr Robert Sherwood
Harp  Mrs Charlotte Swayne
 Mrs Annette Pagliaro
 Ms Angela Kazimierczuk
Flute  Mrs Catherine Handley
Saxophone and Flute  Mr Ian Thomsett
Oboe and Clarinet  Mrs Caron de Burgh
Bassoon  Mrs Clare Walker
 Mr Ian Russell
 Mr Edmund Hartzell
 Mr Paul Hunt
 Mrs Alison Milledge
 Mr Emyr Roberts
 Mrs Fiona Stokes
 Drums/Orchestral Percussion
 Mr Jonathan Helm
Music Facilities

“There is sweet music here that softer falls Than petals from blown roses on the grass, Or night-dews on still waters between walls Of shadowy granite, in a gleaming pass; Music that gentler on the spirit lies, Than tir’d eyelids upon tired eyes; Music that brings sweet sleep down from the blissful skies. Here are cool mosses deep, And thro’ the moss the ivies creep, And in the stream the long-leaved flowers weep, And from the craggy ledge the poppy hangs in sleep.”