The Music Department nurtures creativity and talent through the outstanding range of meaningful curricular and extra-curricular opportunities on offer. We recognize the great worth of music beyond the culture of exams and know well its power to inspire and move people, as well as to think and feel in different ways. By allowing music to become a part of a student’s life we open the door to students developing a wide variety of intelligences…….it allows them to become people of substance. We cater for all musical abilities in an inclusive and supportive environment. Above all, we try to make it fun!


The Music Department contains four main teaching rooms and eight practice rooms which are also used for instrumental teaching.

MR1 – Recital Room (used for large rehearsals and also smaller informal concerts)

MR2 – Smaller room used for Chamber Music rehearsals and class music for typical listening/theory/history of music and harmony lessons

MR8 – Keyboard room equipped with 9 Yamaha Clavinova Pianos for class- based keyboard work and also our two piano duets clubs

MR9 – Music Technology room equipped with a Yamaha C7 Grand Piano and 18 workstations loaded with Sibelius 7 for composition and arranging.

The department owns three Yamaha C5/C7 Grand pianos, 3 Yamaha U4 Uprights, two digital organs and a wide stock of orchestral instruments available for loan from the department. We have a small music library with a wide selection of choral and instrumental music which help serve the needs of our various ensembles.

What we do:

In Year 7 pupils develop a range of musical skills with a strong emphasis on having fun! We endeavour to underpin this fun with developing a sound working knowledge of music theory. To this end, all pupils sit an internal ABRSM-Style grade 1 theory examination in the summer term. Pupils who have already taken and passed this exam are catered for with a highly differentiated and tailored curriculum. Children in Year 7 also develop basic keyboard skills and are taught to sing. All pupils sing in class and, as an extension, are encouraged to join the Junior Choir. They learn songs and develop basic sight singing skills.

Pupils in Year 8, aided by their recently acquired theoretical knowledge, develop their compositional and performing skills.

They learn:

  • To construct a simple melody.
  • To develop melodies using simple techniques and compositional devices including sequence.
  • To use both Major and Minor tonalities effectively.
  • To compose simple accompaniments which fit with their melodies and to compose melodies in response to given accompaniments.
  • To compose a simple waltz
  • To transfer their ideas to a finished score using Sibelius 7.
  • To compose music in response to a film clip
  • About Jazz, Blues & Ragtime.

At Christmas all pupils in Year 8 perform at local residential homes, singing carols as a group and presenting individual instrumental and sung items. Pupils learn in a variety of ways including composition using ICT; group compositions; performances using diatonic xylophones, keyboards and un-tuned percussion and pupil’s own instruments; theoretical work; independent research and presentations; listening and appraising.

Music is optional in Year 9, allowing pupils with an interest in the subject to enjoy working in the company of like-minded peers. Year 9 musicians undertake a composition project in the Autumn term based on War & Conflict, investigating the ways in which music can convey mood. 5/8 time and other irregular time signatures are also explored. The second term sees pupils studying popular music. They begin by performing established repertoire in small groups and evaluating their success. In the second half term they compose simple popular songs in their groups, ultimately producing a CD of their compositions.

In the summer term, pupils study variations and instrumental colours, gaining an understanding of how sounds combine to produce different orchestral effects.

The GCSE course (we follow the AQA specification) is a varied one indeed and students with a basic instrumental level can expect to do well and enjoy the course which allows students to play to their strengths and interests especially in the area of composition. In recent years we have had outstanding results with an average of 90% of students achieving the top awards of A*/A/B Grades.

There are five areas of study for all of the units.

  • AoS1 Rhythm and metre
  • AoS2 Harmony and tonality
  • AoS3 Texture and melody
  • AoS4 Timbre and dynamics
  • AoS5 Structure and form

For a full description of the content of the AQA GCSE please visit the AQA website by clicking here

A Level Music: Pupils in Years 12 & 13 study the OCR specification for AS and A2 Music GCE qualifications. Further details can be obtained at the OCR website by clicking here

Extra-Curricular Music

Below is our weekly rehearsal schedule. There are over 30 rehearsals a week. This is in addition to our class music lessons and instrumental lessons. Music is for everyone and so extra-curricular music plays a vital part in school life at school. We aim to cater for as many different musical tastes and aspirations as possible. All pupils are encouraged upon entry to the school to join in one of our extra-curricular musical activities. We firmly believe that music is something that everyone can and should enjoy. To this end many of our ensembles provide for pupils at different stages in their musical career. For example, we have five separate choirs: Junior Choir, Chamber Choir, the Sovereign Singers, Henry VIII’s 9 and finally the Rock Gospel Choir. Instrumentalists are well catered for with a plethora of activities being on offer. Indeed, often the problem musicians at Henry’s encounter is not one of what to do, but what not to do!


The Music department is especially proud of how many Oxbridge Choral Scholarships secured in recent years, testimony to the high quality of musical experience we offer here. We look carefully at the individual strengths of each student before advising him/her what is the best route to take, a University Music Course or the Conservatoire route. In recent years we have placed students at the following Universities and Music Colleges:

University of Oxford, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Birmingham Conservatoire of Music, Leeds College of Music.

Music Scholarships:

Music Scholarships are available at 11+ and 16+. Holders of Music Scholarships will be expected to involve themselves fully in ensemble activities as well as maintaining high standards of individual performance. In addition to the department concerts, all Music Scholars are required to participate in two Scholars’ concerts when they will be expected to perform one or two solos. An accompanist will be provided for these occasions. It is also envisaged that Music Scholars will study the subject to GCSE level and probably beyond. Enthusiasm for music and potential for development are very important in the selection of Music Scholars, but as a guide it is anticipated that applicants will have reached or be approaching a standard of Grade 4 on their main instrument by the time of their audition.

Prospective applicants are welcome to spend some time visiting the Music department during a normal school day and the Director of Music is happy to answer any queries that parents may have regarding the procedure for auditions.

Several Music Scholarships are available at Sixth Form level which recognise and reward excellence. Both existing students and external candidates may apply. The value of Music Scholarships will vary between 10% and 50%.

For details of how to apply for a Music Scholarship, please see the Admissions section of the website.


Director of Music:  Mr N Doherty, B.A; L.T.C.L; P.G.C.E
Teaching staff:

Dr. R Coull BMus (Hons); MMus; PGCE; Phd – (Assistant Director of Music and Key Stage 3 Co-ordinator);

Mr A Kennedy, B.Mus, B.A. (Hons) - (Head of Instrumental Studies);

Mrs D Pandya, B.Mus (Hons), CTABRSM, A.B.S.M, A.L.C.M, A.C.I.B (Part-time class teacher of Music).

Music Secretary:  Mrs K Greenway
Technical Staff: Mr D Balcam, (Performing Arts Technician)


In recent years the Music department undertook an overseas tour to Dublin, Ireland and our Jazz Band and Junior Choir performed in the world famous Guinness Factory to great acclaim. Lots of sight-seeing was crammed alongside historical education as well as the obligatory shopping excursion! More recently we visited Cardiff (performing at the Welsh Parliament and Millennium Centre).

Instrumental Lessons

Pupils can learn a wide range of instruments, ranging from harp to electric guitar. Lessons are given on a rotational basis to ensure that pupils do not miss excessive amounts of academic work. We employ some 30 visiting music teachers (VMTs) to cater for all orchestral instruments. They bring a wealth of experience and talent to our department. Many VMTs also run extra-curricular ensembles in addition to instrumental teaching. We also have five piano teachers and three vocal teachers. Pupils who wish to begin tuition on an instrument are advised to partake in a taster lesson, which can be facilitated by submitting the form ‘Learning a Musical Instrument at King Henry VIII School’ to the Music Secretary. These lessons allow the prospective student the opportunity to observe a lesson in their chosen instrument with no obligation to undertake further lessons and are free of charge. Parents are advised to consider strongly a child’s total ability to manage learning more than one instrument: it is better to play one instrument really well than to play two badly!


Pupils enjoy the opportunity to study composition with an established composer, Mr. Stephen Webster. Interested pupils attend occasional Composer’s Workshops which are held in MR9. Pupils have access to a suite of 18 PCs equipped with Sibelius 7 music scoring software in addition to more traditional resources.

Our composer Mr. Webster enjoys a successful career as a composer and pianist and has been commissioned to write many pieces. His exciting website below is well worth a visit!

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