Mozart in high school education
Nowadays the use of computer technology is very much a part of the music curriculum at high school. Here we present a profile showing how Mozart helps pupils get the best out of their music at Archbishop Blanch School in Liverpool.
[Note: By its nature, this article uses some terms which are specific to the State education system in England and Wales, but the concepts are broader. A glossary is provided to allow translation to other education systems around the world.]
Mozart and music at Archbishop Blanch School - a profile
(At the time of writing) Peter Moss teaches music at Archbishop Blanch School, an 11-18 comprehensive school for girls, near Liverpool city centre. The school has a thriving music department which attracts many pupils to the music GCSE and A-Level courses. A major aspect of the study of music throughout the curriculum is composition. The department uses Mozart on networked computers, and many of the pupils have also bought a personal copy for use at home.
I asked Peter about the use of Mozart in the classroom.
Terms used in high school education in England and Wales
Usually the first year of high school education which pupils enter at age 11.
General Certificate of Secondary Education: the national qualification obtained typically in Year 11.
(Advanced level) The national qualification typically obtained in years 12-13 which for example provides a qualification for entry to University. Nowadays it is split into two-parts AS followed optionally by A2.
Key Stage 3:
The part of the National Curriculum taught in years 7-9 (between the ages of 11 - 14)
Key Stage 4:
The part of the National Curriculum taught in years 10-11 - the GCSE course.<
I understand that the use of computer technology is very much part of the National Curriculum in music. How is this implemented at your school?
We have 25 computers in the music department, but the Mozart software is on the school network, and so it can be accessed throughout the school.
Is Mozart used by the whole 11 to 18 age range of the school?
Yes. This year we are using Mozart throughout the age range beginning in year 7. Many pupils enter the school with no experience of music notation, and we are starting to use Mozart as a teaching tool quite early. It can be used by pupils who find notation challenging, as the keyboard method of inputting is especially user-friendly. The standard Windows interface, for example the similarity with programs like Word, is also useful and it has many flexible features.
I understand that composition is a significant part of the course throughout the curriculum. How do pupils use Mozart for this?
Pupils all compose with Mozart. Its main advantages are its easy accessibility and that it allows pupils to produce compositions which sound effective very quickly. For GCSE, their scores are printed off to back up the required recording. Many pupils also opt to use Mozart for the AS and A2 course.
I hear you have had some excellent GCSE results recently. In what way has Mozart contributed?
The wide availability of the program in school, as well as the fact that it has allowed all pupils to have the chance to purchase a copy for a reasonable fee, means that they have more time to work on their compositions. Our GCSE results in music last year were the best yet, and one pupil received full marks at GCSE composition! Indeed 10 pupils were entered for the exam a year early and we had 2 A-star grades, 6 A's and a B and a C. The year 11 results were also extremely impressive and a large part of this success was due to the improvement in composition facilitated by the use of Mozart.
And the younger pupils?
The lower school pupils are producing work of an amazing standard. I expect the level of composition will continue to improve. The great thing is that the children actually enjoy using Mozart and it is now taken for granted as a necessary part of the curriculum.
All in all, Mozart has played a massive part in helping to further develop the composition and arrangement aspect of our work. Pupils also use it for transposing parts for classroom arrangements and performances, so that they can use orchestral instruments in the classroom. This gives them a great sense of achievement.
Footnote: it is enormously gratifying for us at Mozart Music Software to see how, in the hands of a committed teaching staff, Mozart can help bring out the best of pupils' ability. We are very grateful to Peter for providing this feed-back. Through such dialogue, the future development of Mozart can be guided by the requirements of teachers, students, and education curricula, as well as the needs of individual composers and music enthusiasts.
If your school is outside the UK, we hope that the glossary of education terms used in the National Curriculum which applies in the above case will help you translate Peter's experience of Mozart into terms which apply where you are.
In the interview, Peter mentions networking Mozart and pupils acquiring home copies. Our site licence prices are very reasonable, and individual copies of Mozart are available at a very significant discount for all pupils or students at a school (or other academic establishment) which has bought a site licence. (Please e-mail for details email@example.com).