About the department:


Music lessons at St Cuthbert’s follow a model outlined by “The Musical Futures Project”, a new and innovative approach to music teaching founded on the belief that students learn most effectively by encountering and experiencing new music by playing it for themselves. Music lessons are fully interactive and hands on, focusing on the development of three key musical skills: performing, composing and listening/appraising. Pupils are encouraged to perform and listen to a wide variety of different musical styles and genres, as well as the music of different cultures from all over the world, to develop the skills they will need to continue the subject to GCSE level. The Music department also frequently collaborates with other Creative Arts subjects, including Art, Drama and Media Studies, on multiple projects throughout the school year.


More information about the Musical Futures Project can be found at


Equipment and Instruments:


All pupils have the opportunity to perform and compose using a variety of instruments throughout their time at St Cuthbert’s. These include: electronic keyboards and pianos, ukuleles, electric and acoustic guitars, electric and acoustic drum kits, samba drums, African drums, Chinese gongs, xylophones, glockenspiels and many other percussion instruments. Pupils are also encouraged to use and develop their voice as an instrument.

Music lessons are supported by a variety of different Music Technologies including: Macintosh computers with Garage Band software, a full class set of iPads, Sibelius 7 notation software, Cubasis sequencing software and recording equipment incorporating the school radio station, microphones and camcorders.




The Music department currently has one main teaching room, adjoined to the school hall, as well as two practice rooms and access to the school Media suite (attached to the LINC) where the School’s radio station, recording equipment and Macintosh suite are housed.






Preparing you for life:


Students are often discouraged from studying Music at GCSE because of the misconception that it cannot help them in later life, or that there are very limited career prospects for Music due to the highly specialised nature of the subject. The reality is that nothing could be further from the truth. A recent article published in the Guardian online (October 2013) revealed that Music graduates are much more employable than you might think.


Today’s employers are actively seeking recruits that have transferrable skills and who can think creatively in a variety of different situations and environments. Recent surveys show that Music students have these skills in abundance. Even if you are not intending to take Music any further when you leave school, the skills that you learn throughout the course enable you to think creatively and are extremely transferable.


The AQA website has this to say about their GCSE Music course:


“GCSE Music offers a solid foundation for progression to other music studies, including A-level Music, and often to a music-related career.  Our course provides the opportunity for students to develop valuable transferable skills such as self-confidence, concentration, creativity, evaluation and team work.”


Instrumental/Vocal Lessons and Graded Music Exams:


All students at St Cuthbert’s have the option to study a musical instrument or voice in school with specialist Teachers from Rochdale Music Service, regardless of whether they have opted for music or not. Lessons are subsidised by the school and can be offered at a significantly reduced price of £5 per session. These can be run on either an individual basis for 15mins, or in a small group for 20mins. Pupils receive 10 lessons per term at an overall cost of £50 per term, or £150 per year. Invoices are sent home at the beginning of each term via the school office.

Students may continue to learn an instrument that they started whilst at Primary School, or choose to learn something completely new. Instrumental lessons are available on any of the following instruments:


  • Guitars: Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Bass Guitar

  • Percussion: Drum Kit, Tuned Percussion (Xylophone, Glockenspiel etc)

  • Strings: Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass.

  • Brass: Trumpet/Cornet, Tenor/French Horn, Euphonium/Baritone, Trombone, Tuba.

  • Woodwind: Flute, Clarinet, Saxophone, Oboe, Bassoon.

  • Piano/Keyboard




Instrumental/Vocal students are given special permission to leave a section of their regular timetabled lessons to attend their music lessons, on the understanding that they catch up on any important work missed.

Students may also choose to sit graded music examinations whilst at St Cuthbert’s. These additional qualifications are internationally recognised and are awarded by four different external examination boards. It is worth considering that a pass at Grade 6 from any of these four major exam boards is equivalent to Grace C at GCSE, and that these qualifications accrue additional UCAS points which can be used to count towards University applications later on in your school/college life. More information about the different exam boards available can be found by clicking on the links below:


ABRSM – Trinity College London – Rock School – LAMDA Musical Theatre Grades –


Extracurricular activities:


St Cuthbert’s has an extensive range of extracurricular musical activities on offer. Most activities are non-auditioned and open to all, regardless of whether they have opted for music or not. The School currently has an actively competing Show Choir, as well as Lower School Choir, a Wind Band, a Ukulele Orchestra, Keyboard Club and several student-run Rock Bands.


The Music department also works very closely with the school Chaplaincy department, and our entirely voluntary Musical Liturgy Group provides music for weekly School Masses, Liturgies and other religious services throughout the year.


Students may also choose to take part in annual whole-school productions. Past productions have included shows such as Les Misérables, West Side Story, Little Shop of Horrors, Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and Annie.

St. Cuthbert's RC High School Shaw Road


OL16 4RX

01706 647761

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