Beech Hall School

Drama & Music

The Earth has music for those who listen

Music at Beech Hall


Music is taught throughout the school from Pre-school to GCSE.  All pupils are taught with an emphasis on practical music-making, focusing on the four principal areas of listening, singing, playing instruments and composing for both voices and instruments.


At Pre-school, we start with keeping a beat, singing songs and adding simple accompaniments.  Throughout the Infants, there is an emphasis on teaching musical contrasts such as high and low, loud and quiet, in order to introduce the seven elements of music (pitch, duration, dynamics, etc).  They are also taught basic notation.  As pupils move into the Juniors, the complexity of the music they can appreciate and create increases and the work becomes more sophisticated, with pupils adding layers to their music, experimenting with timbre and starting to think about what they are trying to create and how effectively they have achieved this.  


When pupils join the Senior School they are starting to prepare for work at GCSE level, contextualising different genres and learning the features associated with them before applying this knowledge to their own composition.  All pupils in the Senior School are given a ukulele that we use for practical tasks and as a way of reinforcing concepts and music theory.  They learn to read TAB notation for ukulele and both lessons and homework time are used for instrumental practice as well as reinforcing vocabulary and listening skills.  Pupils are encouraged to work in groups, exploring different instruments and how to use the elements of music.  At GCSE level, pupils continue to use ukuleles but also start to use their own specialisms more, allowing them to experiment with performance and composition on their chosen instruments; we also use Garageband to create multi-layered compositions, before having conversations with pupils about how they would like to complete their Non-Examined Assessments in their final year.

Drama at Beech Hall


Drama is taught from the start of the Juniors up to GCSE level.  The course emphasises practical work, encouraging children to explore different characters and scenarios through role play and to analyse the effectiveness of their drama, focusing on different techniques, such as still image, thought tracking and dialogue.


The early work in the Juniors encourages pupils to take on roles and interact with each other in the role.  They explore how characters think and feel and how this impacts their actions.  They learn to develop characters in the role and suggest how a scenario could progress, bearing in mind the characters present in the scene and their likely actions based on knowledge of the character.  Pupils are also encouraged to explore different theatre techniques, such as physical theatre (becoming props, furniture etc using their bodies) and choral speaking.  


This is progressed in the Senior school with a more explicit use of drama terminology, including extending writing to describe, analyse and evaluate their work in preparation for the written GCSE paper.  Pupils use drama both to develop and explore character and to look at how to create effective drama through exploring different genres and styles of theatre.  In addition, each unit of work has its own design element, allowing pupils to explore set, lighting, sound and costume design and to choose to complete practical assessments in design rather than acting, as this is permitted at GCSE.

The GCSE course is very much focused on practical exploration of the set text and the production we use for the Live Performance section of the written exam and, again, there are opportunities for pupils to practise written exam answers as well as refining and developing their practical skills in preparation for the Non-Examined Assessment requirements of the course, which are completed during the final year of study.