Key Stage 4
Who is the course for?
This course is suitable for students who are interested in learning about a range of different types of music, who enjoy singing, rapping, playing an instrument and/or music technology and for students who like writing songs or are interested in learning how to.
What can it lead to?
GCSE Music is a good preparation for further musical study and a solid foundation for the AS/A2 Levels in Music and Music Technology as well as BTEC National Diplomas (in Music, Popular Music and Music Technology) and vocational A-Levels in Performing Arts. Students may wish to take a GCSE in music for its own sake, perhaps to form the basis of a future interest. Alternatively, they may wish to go into a job where it is useful to have had experience of music or where they will need to use some of the skills developed during the course. These might include careers in the music industry, publishing, entertainment and teaching or any job that involves communication and expressive skills.
Course Overview and Assessment Outline
The GCSE Music course is divided into three components:
- Performance Coursework (30%): Students will perform two pieces on their chosen instrument. This can be any instrument of their choice, including singing, rapping and music tech. It is important to note that students do not have to perform in front of an audience if they do not wish to, as performances are recorded in the studio.
- Composition Coursework (30%): Students will create two original compositions, which will utilse a range of musical techonologies, based on given briefs. We learn the process for how to write songs in class and students are given great support to help them learn the technologies required to succeed in this component.
- Theoretical Exam (40%): As part of the theory work we will study twelve set pieces that cover a range of different types of music from modern to classical to electronic to music of other cultures. This theory exam will also assess student understanding of music theory concepts related to reading and writing music.
Coursework is worth 60% of the final grade. This is great news as students can work on it and get help in class, and the music department offers a great deal of intervention to support GCSE students with their coursework.
Students are expected to regularly practise their instrument at home. Students also need to be having weekly lessons on their ‘instrument’ (can be singing lessons or instrumental lessons) either at College or privately, as this will help to ensure that their performance skills are developing appropriately. There will be revision tasks set for homework. Students will have ten hours of controlled coursework time in class to complete their performances and composition work.
What skills do you need to be successful in this GCSE and beyond?
Students need to be willing to put effort into their coursework and be persistent in wanting to improve their work and performing ability. Students should have ideally been learning an instrument previously, although it is possible to complete the course through singing if students haven’t already been having lessons on another instrument.
Students will have the chance to go on trips into London to see musical productions and will be invited to musical performances that we have in at College. There are lots of opportunities for students to be involved in extra-curricular musical activities and these can be used as part of the student’s coursework (e.g. string group/guitar group/choir performances/rock school). Students will be asked to purchase the Edexcel CGP ‘Areas of Study’ text for GCSE Music which is £5.50 (or £4 when bought through the College).
This course will enable students to develop key skills in communication and information technology, which can be useful whatever they wish to do afterwards. In particular, GCSE Music offers opportunities to develop the wider key skills in working with others (e.g. taking part in rehearsals, performing).