Monmouth School for Girls musicAt 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 7-9

In Year 7 everyone has a class lesson and a practical lesson. We learn how music works – listening to a variety of styles from Indonesian gamelan to Bach, improving notation and aural skills and playing electronic keyboards. Most important of all is live music; we all learn how to sing properly and everyone can sing in the Lower School Choir.  Pupils participate in local music festivals as well as school concerts.

In Year 8 we are divided into groups so that we can work at the right pace for our level of experience.  The more experienced groups study composing and individual performing while girls who came into Year 7 as beginners have group keyboard lessons which include improvisation.  We all continue with listening and appraising and, of course, singing!

In Year 9, there are a range of courses to choose from which include Grade 5 Theory, Music Technology, composition and performing.


Eduqas GCSE Music: C660QS: Teaching from 2016 for award from 2018

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

Through the Eduqas brand, WJEC has developed reformed d A level qualifications, regulated by Ofqual, for teaching from 2016. This qualification meets regulatory requirements in England and has been accredited by Ofqual.

Year 12

AO1 – Performing – 30% of qualification: 72 marks

  • Solo and/or ensemble performance
  • Should last between 6 and 10 minutes
  • One piece must be from one of the following areas of study

Area of study A: The Western Classical Tradition

Area of study B: Rock and Pop

Area of study C: Musical Theatre

Area of study D: Jazz

  • Externally assessed by a visiting examiner

AO2 – Composing – 30% of qualification: 72 marks

  • 1: A composition which reflects the musical language, techniques and conventions associated with the Western Classical Tradition in response to a brief set by WJEC.
  • 2: A free composition for which learners set their own brief.
  • Total time of compositions should be between 5 and 7 minutes
  • Externally assessed by WJEC

AO3/4 – Appraising – 40% of qualification: 88 marks

The examination will assess knowledge and understanding of music through two of the four areas of study

  • Area of Study A is compulsory: Either, Haydn Symphony No.104 in D major, ‘London’ 1st and 2nd movements. Or, Mendelssohn Symphony No.4 in A major, ‘Italian’1st and 2nd movements.

Learners then choose one further contrasting area of study.

  • Area of Study B: Rock and Pop 1960 – 1990. Learners are required to study 4 rock and pop genres. Pop. Rock, including Prog Rock, Heavy Metal, Folk-Rock and Punk Rock. Soul. Funk including disco.
  • Area of Study C: Musical Theatre (5 representative composers). Richard Rodgers. Leonard Bernstein. Stephen Sondheim. Claude-Michel Schonberg. Andrew Lloyd Webber.
  • Area of Study D: Jazz 1920-1950. Learners are required to study 5 genres of jazz: Ragtime. Dixieland. Early Jazz. Big Band including swing. Be-bop.

Year 13

Component 1 Performing – 25% or 35%

  • Solo and/or ensemble performance
  • Lasting between 10 and 12 minutes (35%)
  • Lasting between 6 and 8 minutes (25%)
  • One piece should reflect one area of study
  • Assessed by visiting examiner

Component 2 Composing – 25% or 35%

  • Two compositions, one of which must reflect the musical language, techniques and conventions associated with the Western Classical Tradition in response to a brief set by WJEC. The second composition is a free composition for which learners set their own brief.
  • Lasting between 4 and 6 minutes – 25%
  • Lasting between 8 and 10 minutes – 35%
  • Teacher assessed and externally marked
  • One free, innovative composition
  • Teacher assessed and externally marked

Component 3 Appraising – 40%

  • The examination will assess knowledge and understanding of music through three areas of study. Study A is compulsory and learners then choose two further contrasting areas of study: one from either area of study B or area of study C or area of study D, and one from either area of study E or area of study F

Area of study A – Development of the Symphony 1750-1900 Either, Haydn Symphony No.104 in D major, ‘London’ Or, Mendelssohn Symphony No.4 in A major, ‘Italian

Choose one from:

  • Area of Study B – Rock and Pop
  • Area of Study C – Musical Theatre
  • Area of Study D – Jazz

Choose one from:

  • Area of Study E – Into the Twentieth Century
    • Learners will study the following 2 set works in depth#
    • Poulenc – Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano Movement 2
    • Debussy – Three Nocturnes – Nuages
  • Area of Study F – Into the Twenty – first Century
    • Learners will study the following 2 set works in depth:  Ades – Asyla, Movement 3 Ecstasio. Beamish – String Quartet No.2, movements 1 & 4

Music is a diverse and challenging A Level which works well with any subject combination. It is also a welcome complementary subject for medicine, law, journalism education and personnel work, to name but a few. Our choice of the WJEC Eduquas course with its careful balance of performance and academic rigor ensures that all universities regard it favourably.


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 it was in the hands of Monmouth School for Girls under the direction of their Director of Music, Mr Mario Conway. 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 Overture, Danse 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

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. Symphonic Winds is MS led and is directed by Patricia Dollins, and Senior Strings is HMSG led and directed by Ruth Friend. 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 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.


Instrumental and Singing teachers 2016-17

Mrs S Armstrong LRAM, ARCM
Mr S Marshall BA Hons (Music), PGCE
Mrs A Milledge BA, PGCE
Mrs J Murrell LWCMD, Cert. Ed
Mr C Horner B Mus Hons (Surrey)
Mrs R Underwood BA (Hons) Music, European Suzuki Institute Level 3
 Mrs G Banks-Martin  DRSAMD
Mrs S Greenwood B Mus, LTCL, PGCE
Ms C Swayne BMus, PGCE, ATCL, PGDip, Music
GUITAR (all styles):
Mrs C Handley   LRAM, GRSM, Dip NCOS, Dip RAM
Mr I Thomsett LWCMD
Mr K Jones BA (Mus), PG Dip in Performance
Mrs E Newington ARCM, LRAM
Mrs C Walker MA (Oxon), Dip. NCOS, PG Cert. of Advanced Bassoon playing (Guildhall)
Mr I Russell Guildhall School of Music & Drama
Mr J Helm LWCMD, Welsh College of Music & Drama – Advanced Performers Diploma – Distinction
Mrs A Kazimierczuk GBSM
Mrs A Pagliaro BA Hons (English) UCWC, PGCE, LGSM Performers Dip (Singing)

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.”

Hammersly Hall - May 2015Hamersley Hall – Award winning performance space, also equipped as a recording studio.

St Catherines
St Catherine’s is the home of music at Monmouth School for Girls
Purcel Teaching RoomPurcell, one of the many teaching rooms in St K’s
Music Technology SuiteMusic Technology Suite Air-conditioned Main School HallAir-conditioned Main School Hall
Piano Cells

One of the many individual practice rooms located around the School and known affectionately as ‘piano cells’.