Music is central to the curriculum in Sandford Park School. The teachers of music are enthusiastic and passionate about their subject; their pupils are inspired and motivated by them.
Music is taken by all students in Form I. The main focus of work is on the building of listening, composing and performing skills, with the study of associated musical literacy concepts. Cognisance of the fact that some students are complete beginners and others are more advanced instrumentalists, is taken into account. By the end of Form I, students are well placed to progress to Junior Certificate Music even if they have never studied music before.
The Junior Certificate Music course is based on the consolidation of listening, composing and performing skills. In addition, students are required to undertake a General Study. The study of set songs and works, as well as composing and Irish Music, is at the core of the programme. All students are also required to undertake a practical examination. Many students use group and solo singing as the basis for this. Others use instrumental skills honed in private tuition, often in the Music Centre as part of the excellent programme of instrumental tuition which the school offers. The advantage of this over outside tuition is that the class teacher is in constant communication with each student’s instrumental teacher.
A one-year Transition Year music programme is based on a study of the human voice, with associated practical activities. Composition is also taught, with a project involving the performance of each student’s composition by a visiting string quartet. Preparation for this also involves an intensive course in using Sibelius 6 software, which is the basis of some students’ Leaving Certificate practical. Supporting studies in music theory and score reading are also offered. In addition, all music students get the opportunity to study a six-week recording module using a variety of up-to-date school based recording equipment.
The Leaving Certificate in Music is a two year course of study. Music is taken by increasing numbers of students nationally. The course is based on further developing listening, composing and performing skills. At higher level, students also have the opportunity to decide which element of study should represent 50% of their total mark, through an innovative higher elective. Many students choose the performing elective and base their performing examination on participation in the school’s award winning choir.