The Music department aims to enable all pupils to fulfil their musical potential, preparing them for a lifetime of musical experiences and enjoyment. Our large purpose-built building is equipped to the highest standards. Impressive facilities include a large stock of string, woodwind and brass instruments and pianos, together with new digital technologies. There are four teaching rooms for class teaching equipped with digital pianos, computer workstations, mixing desks, CD players and data projectors. There is a 280 seater auditorium and a suite of six practice rooms. There are five full-time teachers, a part-time class teacher, a part-time Sound Engineer and a team of seventeen visiting instrumental staff.
We run six choirs and six orchestras, providing a myriad of opportunities for pupils of all ages and ability to participate in highly enjoyable and challenging performances of different types. The Annual Carol Concert is one of the most popular events in the school calendar and will take place in the Usher hall, Edinburgh in 2012.
There is a special emphasis on producing large-scale musicals in both the Junior and Senior Schools. Recent shows have included, Fiddler on the Roof, Grease and We will Rock You. In 2012 Cats was performed at the Alhambra Theatre in Dunfermline.
- Choral and chamber music competitions. Our choirs and chamber musicians gained distinctions in Perth Competition Festival.
Music at Dollar is taught from Prep 1 to senior 6 and the curriculum is designed to flow from 5-18. We aim to provide a range of musical activity and experience with an emphasis on enjoyment, expression and development. We wish to inspire and support our pupils in order to help them maximise their potential. Through music they develop self-awareness, confidence, personal satisfaction, self-discipline, determination and commitment.
The curriculum is a balanced one consisting of listening, performing and composing activities. New resources and the creative expertise of our staff have led to several new and exciting innovations. In the Prep school Kodaly techniques are used to develop pitch, rhythm and pulse. Singing is a core part of the curriculum throughout Prep, Junior and Senior schools. Pupils explore sound through the voice and a large variety of percussion instruments. Keyboards are introduced in Prep 4 and pupils use these as a performing and inventing tool. There are many performing opportunities including Nativity productions, class assemblies and concerts. The Junior 1 classes perform a Cantata each year and Junior 2 produce a musical. Prep 5 and Junior pupils have the opportunity to perform with the seniors in the Christmas concert in the Usher Hall.
Technology is used to enhance every area of the curriculum and recording and evaluating work is an important part of lessons. As well as the interactive music theory resources (Auralia and Musition) and the most up to date composing software (Sibelius 7.5) the department hosts over 50 new touch screen computers with the industry standard recording software Pro Tools 9. There are thirteen pupil workstations in each of the four classrooms. These consist of a MIDI keyboard and audio interface for recording with Pro Tools 9 and Sibelius 7.5. Pupils are encouraged to take part in recording projects and to develop an understanding that will enable them to move to our Pro Tools HD studio with confidence.
Our state of the art auditorium has seen the arrival of a fully equipped Pro Tools HD recording facility. The auditorium itself is a bright, versatile, live recording space with 24 microphone inputs routed to our control room. The control room features two Pro Tools HD interfaces, a 24 fader control surface, Focusrite preamps and compressors recording to a dedicated Mac Pro with a pair of Alesis M1 studio monitors. We have an extensive selection of dynamic, condenser and valve microphones for recording anything from solo performances to full jazz bands and orchestras.
In 2011 Dollar Academy launched its own recording label, D.A.R.E. (Dollar Academy Recording Enterprise). The first CD was produced in December 2012 and featured the Chamber Choir and Dollar Academy Jazz Orchestra.
We ensure that all of our pupils appreciate a wide variety of music and they are encouraged to bring their own instruments into class activities. An appreciation of the cultural and aesthetic importance of music is explored and pupils take units in Indian, Latin American and Scottish Music.
Music and Music Technology courses are offered at National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher. Pupils can also take free-standing performing units in accompanying or performing.
National 5 Music
The National 5 Music course consists of three areas: performing; understanding music; and composition skills. The course is taught in such a way as to emphasize the links between the three strands and to help pupils to enrich their understanding of musical concepts in each area.
Pupils explore the following topics: Instruments of the orchestra; Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Modern musical periods; Scottish Music; Popular music; Jazz; World music. Musical concepts are highlighted within each topic and pupils study works from the ‘Sound Matters’ scores. Traditional aural skills and musical literacy are developed and extended using the Auralia program.
Pupils complete three projects in the first year of the course:
- Variations on the Pachelbel Ground Bass
- An arrangement of the Skye Boat Song
- 12 bar blues
Pupils explore some twentieth century techniques in the second year of the course (Serial composition, minimalist piece Dorian D).
Performing is taught through regular workshops. Pupils are assessed regularly and are given opportunities to perform in public lunchtime concerts. Work is recorded at several points in the course including the Prelim recitals (Jan). Pupils perform in front of a visiting examiner (Feb/March).
National 5 Music Technology
Pupils taking Music Technology produce a folio of live and studio recordings and are taught to use and understanding digital editing techniques (e.g. sampling, looping, copy and paste, time expansion, time compression, normalising). Performance plans or scores are produced for each piece and accurate log books detail the work carried out. Pupils study Twentieth century music and explore a wide range of different styles. Pupils are also taught essential compositional and aural skills.
Pupils in both courses have the opportunity to do free-standing National 4 units in Performing and Technology Skills.
The Higher music course develops further the listening, inventing and performing skills acquired at National 5.
Pupils listen to music from all the areas introduced at National 5 and new concepts are added. The Renaissance period is introduced and additional concepts from the SQA list. Aural skills are further developed particularly melodic and rhythmic dictation and the understanding of diatonic and chromatic chords.
Although a large percentage of the recital programmes are prepared outside the classroom (through visiting staff and individual practice routines) performing skills are developed through regular class workshops. Pupils are encouraged to make the most of performing opportunities and are encouraged to work together in various ensembles. Prelims are performed and recorded in January and pupils prepare for the visiting examiner in Feb/March.
After successfully completing Blues, Baroque, Classical, Twentieth Century and Scottish inventing assignments at Intermediate 2, Higher candidates are encouraged to develop their own individual style of writing. Examples of past assignments include:
- Blues (Composition and Improvisation options)
- Solo Instrumental Study (Guitar, Flute, Clarinet, Cello, Violin)
- Minimalism (Composition/Improvisation)
- Rock/Pop Ballads (Composition and/or Arrangements)
Advanced Higher pupils further develop their understanding in each of the three areas. The listening area of the course gives pupils opportunity to undertake a 2000 word project which demands more advanced analytical skills and helps them to develop individual research skills.
Pupils prepare a more substantial recital on two instruments and perform in front of a visiting examiner in May. The inventing folio gives pupils the chance to develop their creativity and to focus on genres that are of particular interest to them.