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16. What’s the Music School curriculum like?

·First study.

All NCETM students receive one period per week of individual instruction in their first study instrument.  This is a classroom extraction period, and every effort is made to minimise the disruption this inevitably causes.  You will have to catch up on any work you have missed in your own time.

·Second study. 

As with first study, this is a classroom extraction period, and you will be expected to catch up on any school work you have missed.

We have a modular approach to second study, with students having the option of taking two disciplines over the course of a year. All students are required to do at least one half-year module in an option with some emphasis on music theory, whether this is the straight theory option, or a module in what we call “Creative Musicianship”. This is designed to develop your musical ear through listening and playing, so that you will be able to recognise and play or sing along with popular chord sequences, work out what scale notes will sound good with the chords, and play, sing and improvise creatively and confidently, enabling you to make a valuable contribution to a wide variety of musical situations.  

Once this is completed, you have the option to take the same second study for the whole academic year, although we recommend developing your theoretical knowledge as much as possible during your time here. 


Groupwork is an integral part of the Centre’s activities, and takes place from 4-5 p.m.,

Monday to Thursday.  It is important that you realise the degree of commitment to other students that this involves, and are willing to treat Groupwork with the same level of importance as your individual study. This means allocating at least part of your practice time to learning your tunes and parts for Groupwork.


You are expected to do a minimum of one hour’s practice, split between your two

studies, each night from Monday to Thursday. This is part of the Music School curriculum, but it cannot be overemphasised that this is a minimum amount. Most people who have reached a standard good enough to gain a place here already practise at least that amount anyway.


We attempt to spread performance opportunities as evenly as possible amongst all

students.  The final decision as to who does any given performance rests with the Centre Manager and is dependent on a number of factors, including amount of school missed, suitability for the performance, etc.  You should again note that the onus is on you to catch up on any school work or work given to you by your tutors.

·S6 Provision

In S6 the weekly time in the Music School doubles from 10 to approximately 20 hours per week, with one full day and a period on each other day spent in the Centre. For the last 6 years, S6 students have been required to undertake a National Certificate (NC) in Music, consisting of twelve units.

In 2018 we moved to a less rigid form of academic provision for our S6 students, with a greater emphasis on Skills for Work. We offer a number of smaller qualifications, including 2 National Progression Awards, which include several of the units previously taught on the NC. This more flexible approach serves to better equip any students wishing to move on to work in the Creative Industries, as well as giving the option for students who have a high academic workload to spend slightly less time in the Music School.


As well as recording a commercial CD every year, there are various ways in which you can make use of our in-house recording facilities, one of the most common being making your own album as an S6 project. 

We encourage students to become as familiar as possible with recording, and many students say this is the most enjoyable part of their experience here.

·Time Management

Perhaps the most important thing we expect from our students is that they have the ability to manage their own time responsibly, and to inform the NCETM office of any planned absences.  The timetable system used varies from week to week to take account of tutors’ and students’ other commitments.  This means that the timetable must be very flexible, and depends heavily on good communication between you and the office.

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