Music at Durham Johnston Comprehensive School

“Without music, life would be a mistake.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

At Durham Johnston School, pupils have an hour’s music lesson each week during Years 7, 8 and 9. In those music lessons, pupils have the opportunity to enjoy and explore a range of music through understanding, listening, performing and composing activities. They are encouraged to use their creativity to explore the ways in which music affects us all, and they become equipped with the skills to analyse, evaluate and improve their own music making, and the music making of others. During the three years, they study many different genres, styles and musical traditions, broadening their outlook on life and the world.


KS3 Understanding

  • Rhythm - Understand basic note values
  • Pulse - Understand basic time signatures
  • Pitch - Read the notes of the treble and bass clef

KS3 Listening

  • Know the 6 elements of music (pitch, rhythm, pulse, timbre, texture, timbre)
  • Show their understanding of these concepts by describing music in terms of the elements
  • Identify a wide range of instruments and styles across musical cultures

KS3 Performing

  • Develop basic performance skills on several instruments (voice, keyboard, percussion, guitar)
  • Perform parts within a musical texture (melodies, drones, ostinatos and chord sequences) from memory or score
  • Maintain a steady beat/pulse in a solo and ensemble performance

KS3 Composition

  • Create their own music (written and improvised) within a range of styles
  • Describe the music composed and the process
  • Use music technology to create and realise their own musical ideas


This broad and detailed programme of study lays the foundation for further musical study, paving the way for a successful transition to the next key stage. For those that choose to go on to study music at KS4, we follow the Edexcel GCSE Music specification, full details of which are at this linkFor those that choose to go on to study music at KS5, we follow the AQA A Level Music specification, full details of which are at this link


“Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.” Confucius

Many pupils choose to further their musical education by participating in one or more of the weekly Extra-Curricular Activities run by the Music Department. We currently run the following lunchtime and after-school activities.

  • Junior Choir (Y7 & 8)
  • Junior Orchestra (Y7 & 8)
  • Senior Choir (Y9-13)
  • Senior Orchestra (Y9-13)
  • Chamber Choir (Y12 & 13)
  • Wind Band (Y9-13)
  • Big Band (Y9-13)
  • Theory Clubs (Lunchtime – all year groups)
  • Keyboard Clubs (Lunchtime – Y7 & 8)
  • Aural Skills (Lunchtime – all year groups)


We are proud that around 10% of the school’s pupils have Instrumental Lessons in school, and through partnerships with Durham Music Service and Music Works we currently offer tuition in the following musical disciplines:


  • Woodwind (Flute, Clarinet, Saxophone)
  • Double Reed (Oboe and Bassoon)
  • Bass (Trumpet, French Horn, Baritone, Trombone, Euphonium, Tuba)
  • Upper Strings (Violin, Viola)
  • Lower Strings (Cello, Double Bass)
  • Guitar (Acoustic and Electric)
  • Orchestral Percussion
  • Voice
  • Keyboard


The Hungarian composer and music educator Zoltan Kodály developed a method of teaching that exploited the natural musicality of a child, bringing out their creativity through performance and composition, for the benefit of their well-being. His philosophy is one the Music Department at Durham Johnston School holds to be true.

“With music, one’s whole future life is brightened. This is such a treasure in life that it helps us over many troubles and difficulties. Music is nourishment, a comforting elixir. Music multiplies all that is beautiful and of value in life.”