GCSE Music is a very varied and exciting option to take. There are a wide range of activities tied up with the subject, including performing, composing and learning about different styles of music. 60% of the overall qualification is obtained through the completion of coursework.
Music lessons at GCSE are very different from the lessons in Years 7 – 9. The groups are usually quite small and the learning environment is much more informal. Students learn a lot by studying the music of others, and discussing it within the group. This enables them to see what can be effective in musical composition and also, what possibly doesn’t work. We endeavour to perform music regularly, either as a group, or as individuals.
Students are required to perform on an instrument, or as a singer. This can be on any instrument and the two performances can be on different instruments if the student wishes. The performance can be any style of music. Students are required to provide at least 4 minutes of performances. This must be a mixture of solo and ensemble performing (performing with other people). The ensemble can be anything from a piano duet or a string quartet to a rock band! These two performances are recorded and marked by the teacher. The recordings are then sent to the Board and the marks are checked (moderated). Students are encouraged to do several performances throughout the course, so that we can then choose the best for their final pieces.
Students are required to submit two compositions for this section of the GCSE. There must be at least three minutes’ worth of music from both compositions. One composition is written to a brief set by the Board. That is, they will tell you what the music is for and then you must compose for that situation. The other composition is a completely free choice
This is the only part of the GCSE that is an actual exam. Over the two years, students study music ranging in style from classical music to popular music and music from other cultures. They also learn about the general characteristics of various styles of music. In this 1 hour 45 minute exam, which takes place at the end of Year 11, Students are played extracts of selected set works and answer questions on the music. There is also a longer question where students are asked to compare a piece they know, with a piece they don’t know. This question will require a little more writing than the other questions