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Music, Music Technology and Graded Music Exams for Instruments and Voice


Opportunities for pupils who study music are ever-increasing, especially as new technology develops. Courses which require an SQA qualification in Music or Music Technology for entry may include Music, Production Technology and Management, Education (Music), Musical Theatre and Music Technology. Careers include teaching (music at junior, senior, further and higher level or specialist instrumental teaching), music therapy, sound engineering. Some pupils go on to pursue careers as professional musicians (instrumentalists, singers, conductors or composers, for example).

At Wellington, all music courses are practical in nature and flexible in structure to allow for the range of musical abilities amongst pupils. Pupils are encouraged to develop their skills at a rate that suits their individual needs but those who already play a musical instrument are encouraged to test their skills and confidence by performing in class.


S1 and S2

Pupils work on three units over a two year period. The Understanding Music unit involves listening to a range of musical styles and identifying features and musical concepts. Pupils will also develop their musical notation and literacy skills. The Performing Skills unit is designed to consolidate and further develop pupils’ group/solo instrumental and singing skills. To this end, pupils are given the opportunity to perform in front of their peers and offer constructive feedback during class discussion. The third unit, Composing Skills, focuses on creating original music using a variety of exercises and logging results using music technology. Pupils use ICT to enhance their composition and performance, and develop an understanding of how music works.

Topics and skills covered in S1 and S2 include developing solo and group performing skills on two instruments; composing: pentatonic and blues scales; music theory and notation skills; anintroduction to Pro Tools and the exploration of a wide range of musical styles.


National 5 Music

Performing Skills, Understanding Music and Composing Skills are studied in great depth over the course of the two year course.

Pupils prepare a performance on two instruments that will be assessed by an external examiner in S4. This component accounts for 60% of the course award. The other elements of the course are Understanding Music (pupils listen to music and comment on what they hear) and Composing Skills (pupils compose a short piece of music using musical concepts to reinforce learning of Understanding Music).

The Understanding Music Question Paper, which is sat at the end of the year, makes up the remaining 40% of the award.


National 5 Music Technology

In this course, pupils work on three main units: Music Technology Skills, Understanding Music in the 20th and 21st Century and Music Technology in Context. Practical knowledge and skills from the units are assessed through an assignment, which are marked by an external examiner in S4. The other elements of the course focus on understanding musical and technological concepts.

Pupils develop a range of techniques to capture and manipulate audio using music technology hardware and software. The unit on Understanding 20th and 21st Century Music involves acquiring a broad understanding of the music industry. Work is done on planning, implementing and evaluating a creative production using technology. Pupils are encouraged to practice in the Studio during lunchtime or after school to engage with Pro-tools and Sounds Active software.

The course assignment accounts for 70% of the overall grade and its purpose is to assess practical application of knowledge and skills from the unit to plan, implement and evaluate a creative production using music technology. The creative production may be in any appropriate context such as live performance, radio broadcast, composing and sound design for film, TV themes, adverts and computer gaming. The completed product should clearly demonstrate application of knowledge and skills from each of the three units of the course.



The Higher Music Course is designed to help pupils further develop their knowledge of music concepts and music literacy and to integrate and apply this understanding in practical learning activities. The course continues to develop the three main units: Performing Skills, Composing Skills and Understanding Music.

The course assessment is split between performance and a question paper. Pupils will demonstrate their performance skills on either two selected instruments, or on a selected instrument and voice, in a prepared programme of music. The performance will be assessed by an external SQA examiner and make up 60% of the total mark. A question paper with listening component makes up the remaining 40%. Pupils will demonstrate conceptual knowledge and understanding of music by responding to questions that relate to musical excerpts, music literacy, music concepts and styles. The question paper is marked externally by the SQA.


Advanced Higher

The Course has an integrated approach to learning; it consists of three mandatory Units and the Course assessment. Each of the component Units of the Course is designed to provide progression from the corresponding Units at Higher Music Level.



Curricular Activities and Extracurricular Clubs


Opportunities to Perform and Develop Skills

The Music Department fully supports the Annual Ayrshire Music Festival and pupils are encouraged to participate and enhance performing skills on instrument and/or voice.

All pupils are encouraged to participate in at least one the vast array of extracurricular activities offered by the department or to perform at one of the school’s frequent concerts or external engagements.

Trips also play an important role in the development of pupils studying music. A regular trip to New York takes place every two years with pupils taking part in Broadway workshops.

A number of Wellington pupils become members of prestigious organisations such as The National Youth Choir of Scotland, National Boys Choir and National Girls’ Choir and also the National Youth Orchestra. A selection of pupils are currently attending the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Junior Academy.


Cross Curricular Activities

Working closely with the Modern Languages Department, the School Orchestra and Chamber Choir travelled to Dortmund, Germany in 2015 for a special series of concerts with one of Wellington’s exchange schools, Mallinckrodt Gymnasium. Future plans include a Senior Choir trip to Slovenia.


Annual Production

There is a Senior School Musical Production in the local theatre every year and a Junior Show every three years.


Captains and Mentoring

The Music department appoints a Music Captain and a Deputy Music Captain from S6 to assist with music throughout the school from Nursery to S6 (3-18). The Captains and Advanced Higher Music pupils mentor and assist with P7 to S2 Music classes, Rock Band, Jazz Band, Chamber Choir, Junior Girls Choir, Junior Boys Choir, Nursery Singing and Primary Choirs from P1 to P6.