The course is very practical. There are three main areas of study.
1. Performing: Pupils will sing or play an instrument. It is not absolutely necessary to be able to perform at a high standard to complete the course, however the higher marks are awarded for a standard equivalent to Grade 4 and above. You will need to record a solo and an ensemble (group) piece by the end of the course.
2. Composing: In Composing you will be writing your own original music for instruments, voices, groups – in fact you will be encouraged to experiment with a variety of styles and instruments. You will need to compose two pieces of music by the end of the course.
3. Listening: You will learn about a wide variety of musical styles and periods through the study of twelve set-works. The course is divided into four areas of study: Western Classical Music, New directions in Western Classical Music, Popular Music and World Music. You will learn three set-works from each area of study.
How will you do it?
Many lessons will be practically based which will give you the opportunities to develop your skills in performing and composing. Many pupils receive “extra” instrumental tuition at school from visiting specialist teachers. These teachers are aware of the requirements for G.C.S.E. and will help and guide you in preparing your coursework, particularly performing.
There are also many pupils who receive “extra” instrumental lessons outside school. It is important that your teachers are also aware of what you are required to do, so that they may help and guide you in preparing for performing. The music department at school will be happy to make contact with your “private” teachers to ‘put them in the picture’.
If you take music to GCSE, you will be encouraged to support and participate in a variety of musical activities e.g. concerts and events as part of the school orchestra, small ensembles and possibly even as a soloist. This widens your experience as a ‘performer’.
When composing you will be able to make use of keyboards, computer technology and multi-track recorders. You will be able to write music for yourself to perform or for others. You will explore a wide range of music through listening and performing which will give you ideas of composing techniques and styles.
What will you achieve?
At the end of the course you will hopefully achieve GCSE Music with a grade ranging from A* to G. The examination board’s proposed structure for 2009 onwards is as follows:
PERFORMING 30% (Performing and Composing
COMPOSING 30% is presented as coursework)
Both solo and group performances will be assessed and recorded at school. A selection of compositions will be recorded and/or written down and then offered for assessment at the end of the course.
A written paper is involved in the assessment of the Listening component. Pupils will write their answers to questions as they listen to and respond to extracts played on CD.
Practising your musical instruments for performance is considered a major part of G.C.S.E. Music homework. Pupils will also be expected to continue work on compositions as well as listening to and studying a wide variety of music. Attending all types of concerts, whether performing or as part of the audience is recommended.
Support and encouragement in the following ways at home can help tremendously
with a pupil’s musical progress and confidence:
- Ensuring that pupils learning to play an instrument practise as much as they need to in an appropriate environment.
- Making time to listen to your child playing his/her instrument and reacting positively!
- Listening to your child’s compositions/ideas for compositions and encouraging him/her to work at home.
- Giving your child the opportunity of attending concerts of all types and in a variety of venues, whether performing or listening.
- Allowing him/her to watch and listen to programmes about music on television, on tapes, and on radio.
N.B. It is a big advantage if pupils who are considering taking GCSE Music are able to play an instrument before they embark on the course and it is advisable that if this is not the case then instrumental lessons of some sort are arranged as soon as possible.