GCSE Music

The GCSE Music students are the people that make the Music Department what it is – they lead the way in musical learning and are excellent role models for our KS3 musicians.

Please note that GCSE grading has moved from A*-G (the old system), to a new system of 1-9. Please note these grades are not the same as, nor to they neatly do not tie in with, instrumental grades (e.g. Grade 3 violin).

Find out more about GCSE Music – download an overview (ppt)

Download the GCSE programme of study – music gcse

What does the GCSE involve? 

The Edexcel GCSE course is divided into three parts: performing, composing and appraising.

GCSE students will develop their skills as performing musicians throughout the course, and will be encouraged to join at least one of our school ensembles. For their GCSE they will need two recordings of them performing, one solo and one ensemble. These recordings can be made at any point in the two years of their GCSE studies and the best ones will be sent off.

There are some restrictions on the ensemble performance: doubling of voice lines is not allowed, and all parts must be independent.

Students will start to use music technology in our new Mac Suite and will learn how to compose their own pieces. They will develop these skills through the year, and will then start work on their two pieces of composition coursework. One of these is a free composition, and the other is a composition to a set brief.

Over the course students will be introduced to 8 set works from 4 areas of study: instrumental music, vocal music, music for stage and screen, and fusions. These pieces are form a diverse range of styles.

Students will learn about the musical features of these pieces and at the end of Year 11 will sit a written exam on them.

Class lessons
Lessons are a mixture of practical and theory. For example:
– Sibelius ‘score-writing’ mini composition project
– free composition (pupil can choose whether to use Garageband, logic, Sibelius or compose in Music Room or practice room on chosen instrument)
– working at desks in the music room completing listening questions, mini aural tests and working on exam technique
– mini keyboard tasks in pairs to learn about a new concept or prepare for listening tests
-group work in practice rooms to recreate one song from the set work list

Individual practice on chosen instrument/piano/voice is expected to be completed outside of the classroom on a daily basis.

How do I make sure I’m going to get the best grade possible?
Music GCSE is about developing yourself as a musician, and so where possible we expect students to be doing a little more than just homework and classwork.

A student should be practicing their instrument (voice included!) daily to ensure they are making enough progress. Ideally they should be supporting this with individual music lessons, or at least coming regularly to one of our school ensembles or choirs (please see the co-curricular tab to find out more about what’s available).

Theory is an important part of the appraising part of the GCSE. It’s important to be able to follow a score and understand how to read music. With this in mind, the majority of our GCSE pupils attend a Theory Club on Monday or Tuesday mornings.

Students also need to be listening to a wide range of music, from all sorts of place and times, in all sorts of styles.

We want all our GCSE students really involved with the musical life of the school. As such, we will encourage them to sort out their own individual music project, whether that’s a concert, an ensemble, a mentoring scheme, etc.

The set works
Here is a playlist of all the eight set works for Edexcel GCSE music: