The Music Department is a bustling and exciting place at Rathmore where students of all ages and abilities are encouraged to strive for musical excellence. 


Through our busy schedule of activities, performances and ambitions, we truly celebrate our School motto by aiming to enrich and our pupils’ lives and inspire them, in turn, to enrich the lives of others through Music.  Providing musical opportunities and platforms for our pupils to flourish and gain experience is central to our aims and you will find our current musicians performing not only in School events and masses, evening and lunchtime concerts, musicals and competitions, but in some of our province’s most prestigious musical institutions including the Ulster Youth Orchestra, Ulster Youth Choir, City of Belfast Youth Orchestra and St. Peter’s Cathedral Schola Cantorum. 


Our Music Department is housed within a modern, bespoke building comprising large classroom spaces, recording studios and a suite of practice rooms. Around a quarter of all pupils receive instrumental and vocal musical tuition each week delivered by a talented team of Peripatetic Music Teachers.  We also hold a long-established association with the City of Belfast School of Music where a large number of our pupils are current members.  We are proud of the many Rathmore Musicians who have gone on to study Music at universities and conservatoires throughout Ireland, the UK and internationally, who are now established  professionals in the fields of musical education, orchestral and instrumental performance, rock and pop, and  musical theatre. 

Academic Music

All pupils receive a 70-minute weekly Music lesson throughout Key Stage 3.  Singing (especially mass hymns and vocal warm ups), keyboard, recorder and pupils’ own instrumental skills are key elements of performance throughout KS3 Music at Rathmore. 


Performing, composing, listening and appraising are all explored through a variety of topics in which the Elements of Music are a unifying theme. Schemes also cater for the development of skills and knowledge necessary for study at GCSE level. Topics covered include:


Year 8:  Introduction to Theory and Composition (incl. using Sibelius), Keyboard and Recorder, Singing, Instruments of the Orchestra, Instrument demos and trial lessons, Festive Music, Graphic Score, Programme Music and Set Works


Year 9: Irish Music and Folk, Repeated Patterns, Pentatonic Music, Dance Music and Styles, Festive Music, Vocal Music, Baroque Music, Blues


Year 10: Pop Music, History and Development, Song Composition, Film Music and Leitmotif, Festive Music, Ensemble Performance, Minimalism, Classic Music and Melody Writing, 20th Century Music (Expressionism and Impressionism)


GCSE and A Level Music

We follow the CCEA Music syllabi. Click here to find out more


Music Theory

Music Theory classes are delivered free of charge on Mondays after school, to support KS3, instrumental and vocal lessons, and GCSE and A Level Music.

Extra-curricular Music

We encourage a ‘can-do’ approach to music-making at Rathmore; the musical, aural, technical, social and performing skills gained from group performance and rehearsing truly advance our pupils’ playing and enjoyment.  Instrumental taster sessions are arranged at the start of each term to allow students to explore the instrument they want to play and we hold a healthy stock of instruments to loan to students who wish to start up. 


A diverse programme of extra-curricular activities operate each week for our students to engage in and develop key ensemble, listening and performing skills including four choirs, a symphony orchestra and concert band, two string orchestras, senior and junior Irish traditional groups, a brass group and a host of smaller chamber ensembles and rock bands. 

Instrumental/Vocal lessons

The study of a musical instrument at a young age is scientifically proven to boost brain activity and develop academic ability, creative thinking and motor skills amongst other benefits.  Our excellent team of 17 peripatetic teachers offer lessons on the full range of orchestral, rock and Irish Trad instruments, and in singing and piano. 


Lessons take place throughout the day and after school, and operate on a rotating timetable; although the teaching day remains the same each week, your lesson will be at a different time.  Most pupils aim to take a practical exam each year.  We currently enter pupils for ABRSM, Trinity Classical and Pop, Rock School and London College of Music exams.

Music Department

Teaching Staff

Mr David Strange (HOD)

Mrs Ciara Agnew

Mrs Sarah Caldwell