The study of Music at Downe House provides an exciting opportunity to develop an understanding and appreciation of the key elements of music.

Director of Music: Dr Charlotte Exon

Music in the curriculum

Explore, discover, be inspired!

Whether it is singing in choirs, composing film sound-tracks, listening to music from a range of cultures or recording songs in the studio, music is for everyone. Our approach is to encourage and support all pupils to explore and express themselves through music. Studying music enables pupils to become creative thinkers, analytical problem solvers, and effective communicators.

At Downe House, it is our belief that music transforms lives!

Lower School curriculum

In addition to the wealth of extra-curricular opportunities, all pupils in Remove (Year 7) and Lower Fourth (Year 9) have an academic music lesson each week. These lessons are designed to develop the interconnected skills of listening, performing, composing and appraising.

In both Remove and Lower Fourth, pupils take a written examination which assesses their understanding of topics and concepts covered. This also prepares them well for the style of listening examinations that are used at GCSE and A Level.


In the Remove, pupils cover a number of topics to develop their understanding of how music and its building blocks work. Pupils study the Elements of Music, the Development of the Orchestra and Music from Africa. During the year they will listen to great pieces as well as develop their performing and composing skills.

Lower Fourth

In Lower Fourth, pupils build on their skills and understanding through the study of Minimalism and Film Music. Pupils compose their own pieces using Sibelius software.

Upper Fourth

Music can be taken as an option subject in Upper Fourth and lesson time increases to a double each week. We select topics specifically to prepare pupils who are experienced musicians wishing to continue studying Music at GCSE and even A Level, but which also remain relevant and useful to pupils who are not progressing to these courses.

Building on the curriculum covered in the Remove and Lower Fourth, those who choose Music in Upper Fourth will embark on a journey which will introduce them to a wealth of music; some familiar and some new and unexpected. Pupils will study pieces in detail, learning to analyse features for themselves. They develop their composition and performance skills and learn to evaluate, refine and develop their work.

Upper School curriculum

Girls from a range of musical backgrounds enjoy GCSE Music. Its is a fantastic opportunity to develop listening, performing and composing skills at a higher level. The Edexcel course gives students an exciting breadth of musical awareness and understanding. There are four areas of study that provide the framework for the course: Instrumental Music 1700-1820, Vocal Music, Music for Stage & Screen and Fusions.

Sixth Form curriculum

The AQA A Level course includes modules in performance, composing, listening, analysing and contextual understanding. The course challenges girls to acquire a deeper understanding of the Western classical tradition as well as the opportunity to explore two further areas of study. The diversity of key skills required means A Level musicians successfully go on to study not just music but a broad range of arts, science and social science subjects at top universities.

For further information please contact the Director of Music, Dr Charlotte Exon.

Meet the Music Department

Dr Charlotte Exon

BMus(Hons), PhD, PGCE

Director of Music

Charlotte Exon is Director of Music at Downe House. She is passionate about music education, particularly inclusivity and the achievement of musical excellence. Charlotte has been recognised for her work at the National Education Business Awards. Not only this but her choral work has brought both the non-auditioned and auditioned choirs of Downe House to national acclaim, winning the Barnardo’s Senior Choir of the Year Competition at the Royal Festival Hall for two years running, 2018 and 2019 – an unprecedented achievement.

Following the completion of her PhD in Music at the University of Birmingham, Charlotte studied for her PGCE at Southampton University before entering the teaching profession. As well as being an accomplished oboist, she has extensive conducting experience with numerous orchestral and choral ensembles that have brought her to national musical attention.

As an experienced and dynamic musician, Charlotte is in demand as an adjudicator for music competitions. However, it is in teaching that she brings together her diverse musical skills with an inspiring vision that enables and empowers others to experience and enjoy the rich and vibrant world of music.

Dr Christian Alexander

Teacher of Music, Head of Composition

Christian’s first teaching experience was at Radley College, initially as Composer-in-Residence and as then as a teacher of music throughout the College. He then freelanced in a variety of teaching environments while working toward his PhD in composition at Bristol University; these included prep schools, secondary schools, prisons, principal examiner for A Level composition at OCR, and Music Teacher at Prior’s Court School for people with autism, (where he worked hand in hand with their music therapist). He has taught at Downe since 2003, and continues to work as a freelance composer.

Music News

Tours & Open Mornings

The best way to find out more about Downe House is to experience it for yourself. Book a personal tour or join us at one of our Open Mornings, available throughout the year.

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