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Members of Department

Mrs O. McGirr (Head of Department)

Mr F. McMullan


SELB Tutors

Mrs B. O’Brien (Upper Strings)

Mr S. Wise (Lower Strings)

Mr S. Dinsmore (Brass Tutor)

Mr S. Dolan (Woodwind Tutor)

Mrs G. Prince (Vocal/Piano Tutor)


Other Tutors

Mr S. Maginnis (Guitar/Drums Tutor)

Book of Chords

St Ciaran’s College has a thriving Music Department where pupils of all ages have the opportunity to be involved in Music in a variety of ways.

Music is studied by all pupils in Key Stage 3 and it is an optional subject at GCSE, AS and A2 level. Music tuition is provided in strings, woodwind, and brass by the Southern Education and Library Board peripatetic music tutors. Voice, piano, guitar and drum kit tuition is provided by independent tutors.In addition, there is a strong tradition of Irish traditional music in St Ciaran’s College, and the traditional group has grown since its formation many years ago.

The Department provides opportunities for all pupils from Years 8-14 to come together to enjoy and perform music. Pupils are involved in the preparation of music for the many school liturgies, assemblies and retreats. St Ciaran’s College has a strong choral tradition since winning the coveted ‘UTV School Choir of the Year’ and pupils are invited to become members of the school choirs. In addition to the Junior and Senior Choir and Traditional group there are other musical ensembles that perform at a wide range of events both local and beyond. The philosophy of St Ciaran’s Music Department is to meet the needs of all pupils whether they are composers, performers, or those who simply enjoy listening to music.

Key Stage 3

Key Stage 3 Music Pupils in Key Stage three are introduced to the three musical activities composing, listening and performing. These are the bedrock to every Music lesson in St Ciaran’s.

Pupils are encouraged to listen to music from 1600 to the present day and to be aware of its historical and cultural context. All pupils are introduced to music notation. Through the methods of imitation and improvisation pupils will be encouraged to perform short pieces of music in unison and in harmony. All class music is performed using keyboards and classroom instruments.

In Years 8 and 9 pupils work as individuals and in groups and enjoy opportunities to arrange and compose short pieces of music which may be enhanced by including orchestral instruments and keyboards. All pupils are given the opportunities to record their class assignments.

Music Technology has recently been introduced to the schemes of work in Years 8, 9 and 10. The Music Department has its own iMac Suite with specialist equipment and software that allows students to experiment and generate compositions using this new sound medium.

Year 8, 9 and 10 pupils are timetabled for one hour of Music each week.

The topics covered in Year 8, 9 and 10 include:

  • Elements of Music

  • Graphic scores

  • Instruments of the Orchestra

  • Keyboard Skills

  • Rhythm and Pulse

  • World Music (Samba)

  • Music Technology (Sibelius Groovy City, Sibelius, Garageband)

  • Motif to Melody

  • Fanfares

  • Film Music

  • Layers of Sound

  • Chords

  • Music in Advertisements


Key Stage 4

Examination Board: CCEA


The Music course at GCSE aims to help students to:

  • enjoy and appreciate Music through learning to listen, perform, compose and appraise music from a range of different styles and periods of history;

  • acquire skills which will allow them to progress to further academic or vocational study, or to follow a Music-related career.


Course Content

Composing and Appraising (Controlled Assessment)

Students submit a portfolio of two compositions (lasting between three and six minutes in total) and a logbook.


Performing and Appraising (External examiner)

Students give a solo and ensemble performance at the end of second year. Each performance lasts up to five minutes each. Students can play any instrument or sing.


Listening and Appraising (Two Examination Papers)

This element involves listening critically to a wide range of music from classical to traditional, jazz and pop. Students undertake three areas of study: 1. Repeated Patterns in Music 2. Incidental Music 3. Musical Traditions in Ireland Students are assessed through two listening papers, each lasting approximately 45 minutes.


Entry Requirements

Students aspiring to study GCSE Music should have some skills in singing and/or playing an instrument. Students should be prepared to perform music of at least grade 3 standard in Year 12 to be able to access the top mark band. Please note that students are not required to have taken any graded examinations but must undertake lessons with a singing/instrumental tutor.

Further information on GCSE Music is available on the CCEA Music Microsite here.

Key Stage 5

Examination Board: CCEA


AS and A2 Music develop essential knowledge and understanding of the many aspects of Music. Students have opportunities to develop composition and performance skills to a higher level and study several topics in more depth, looking at the social and cultural context to works and composers.


Areas of Study



Music Technology tasks are project/portfolio based and submitted in April for external marking by CCEA. Performances are assessed by an external examiner who visits St Ciaran’s in May/June each year. Candidates should note that grade 5 standard pieces are required for AS level and grade 7 standard pieces are required for A2 to access top marks. Aural perception is a listening examination and the written examination consists of one short score question and one essay question.

Two units (or modules) are studied for AS and a further two are studied for A2.


Students wishing to study Music will be expected to develop research skills, show independence of thought and an ability to work on their own and with others.

Meeting deadlines is an essential part of studying Music, especially with regard to performances and composition. Good communication skills are also vital with respect to performance. Students studying Music should have a general love of music which should be evident through involvement in extra-curricular activities both inside and outside of school.


Career opportunities are wide ranging due to the skills developed through the study of Music. Music strengthens one’s ability to listen critically, evaluate, research, appreciate the value of context, write, analyse, apply technology, compose, present and perform. All these skills are transferable to many careers not specifically related to Music (e.g. research based careers, administration). Specific music related careers include performing, composing, arranging, arts administration, concert hall management, promotion of the arts, recording industry, music therapy, classroom teaching, peripatetic teaching, television and radio presenting and researching.


Further information on AS and A2 Music is available on the CCEA Music Microsite here.

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