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GCSE Music - can you complete it in 1 year? home study

Discussion in 'Music' started by MTomaskova, Sep 4, 2017.

  1. MTomaskova

    MTomaskova New commenter


    I would have a few questions about GCSE Music. I am classicaly trained musician and music teacher, but as I studied abroad (Prague Conservatory), there are things I do not now. Thank you for all your answers.

    1)Course work - If there is an advanced student who has Grade 5+ on multiple instruments, is there any chance of completing the course within 1 year? Are you required to hand in course work over 2 years or can you speed it up and do it in one year? What about marking course work and moderation?

    2) To get better understanding of the course I thought to do GCSE Music myself - is there anywhere in London where to log in for exam? Where can I learn about course work and marking it? Any schools in London offers help / training for GCSE music teachers?

    3) My school in South London is currently not running GCSE Music. But there happen to be 2 students (one in yr9 and one in yr 10), who just joined and they are both grade 5+ on multiple instruments. Any recomendation to take exam outside school? (Junior Trinity Laban is over Ł1000 per term, how many term do they need? and is there anything cheaper?)

    4) How do you compare Edexcel vs AQA GCSE Music?

    Thank you again for your replies.

  2. Chanteuse

    Chanteuse Occasional commenter

    I can only answer a few of your questions but:

    -A student COULD do GCSE Music in one year, however, they would have to be very high ability in performance (both solo and ensemble). If they are Grade 5+ the solo would be a doddle, but are they experienced with an ensemble? I find that a lot of students struggle to get the level of 'togetherness' as required by the GCSE. They'd likely need to have the ability (or, preferably experience of) composing both freely and with a stimulus. You can of course give a stimulus for the 'free' composition, to allow them to compose to their strengths, e.g. you could give a flautist the stimulus of a flute and accompaniment and so on. It's really important that they are able to appraise a piece of music too. With the new AQA specification, there are 'set works' like the A-Level, which take time, and a good understanding of Western Classical music (Haydn Clock is one of the set works this year, I believe it's the second movement). There are also other areas to be covered that are non-classical. Depending on the amount of students, it may be a lot of work for you.

    -There are courses you can go on with AQA to help with moderation. Also, going to other schools within the area to look at moderation/speak to colleagues from your PGCE course?

    -With regards to doing the exam outside school, due to it being internally moderated, it has to be done in a centre. No coursework can be done without supervision etc, as it is a controlled amount of time. So that's a tricky one - would your school consider letting you run the course as an extra curricular?

    -I've not done Edexcel yet

    Hope that helps!
  3. muso2

    muso2 Occasional commenter Community helper

    I agree with the above. A confident performer will find the solo performance easy, and the ensemble could potentially be a duet with their instrumental teacher or piece with accompaniment (check with the board you use, as some specify a minimum number of performers). They will need more support with the compositions, but if they have a good grasp of harmony and some experience of composing (you didn't mention which instruments they play) then, again, this shouldn't pose such a challenge. Remember though that the time they spend working on the actual composition should be supervised by a teacher and there is a time limit, so they can't just do this independently and bring it to you. The course could be completed in one year if the student is ready.

    If they are at the school you are working at, they should be able to be entered by that school even if a timetabled course isn't running this year. They may give you time after school to teach it, with additional non-contact periods during the week if they are in support of it happening for these two students.

    The nature of the set works/areas of study and listening exam mean that, although a motivated student could work through a fair amount on their own with a revision guide, they would need to do practise listening questions and would benefit from teacher support with this.

    The following link gives a useful comparison between music gcse boards:
  4. MTomaskova

    MTomaskova New commenter

    Thank you for your detailed answers so far. Much appreciated. Just checked the link and things are much clearer..:) I shall say that due to my studies in Prague I do not have much contacts for UK schools or PGCE mates, but will find some.

    They are both fairly accomplished musicians used to playing in ensemble. So they shall be ok with performing part, I am concerned about composition and listening.
    I am thinking to run it as extra-curricular course. Given I have not taught GCSE Music before and also in my own music training in Prague we did not do GCSE (but other exams) how much time would you guess will it take me a week to do planning, marking and preparation?? Is there any extra course work they have to submit throughout the course? Thank you again, very grateful for your replies.
  5. muso2

    muso2 Occasional commenter Community helper

    Are you the only music teacher at your school? Is music GCSE likely to run next year? I'm not sure I would feel confident teaching gcse in a year, within one hour a week, if I had never taught gcse before. If you have the support of another music teacher in your school or another school nearby, who you can network with and ask questions, I think this would be a great benefit.
    It will take you just as much time to understand and learn the course and mark schemes for 2 students as for 20, so your planning time will still be significant, although actual time spent marking will obviously be less with a very small group.
    If you plan to run as an extra-curricular class, make sure you have the full support of the school and of the parents, with a formal consent letter. If your students miss lessons regularly, when they already have very limited time, it will make an impact. All controlled assessments would need to be sent off in May, and the listening exam is often early in the exam season, so it's really only just over two terms.
    Not trying to put you off, just thinking of what you would need to make it work. You might also consider other qualifications. E.g. Arts award, which still carry points for the student, but require less formal admin from you. You could also involve other students in these, making for a larger group.
    MTomaskova and GLsghost like this.
  6. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    Anecdotally, the head of music at my daughter's school ran GCSE Music for a small group of students in one hour per week, after school, as early entry Year 10s.

    The students were all at least grade six, all had grade 5 theory already and played in the county youth orchestra or junior academy. They all passed with either A or A*.
    muso2 likes this.
  7. muso2

    muso2 Occasional commenter Community helper

    Thats brilliant!
    Was it recently? I don't know how you'd manage the composition element of it now in that timescale, as I think they can have up to 10 or 12 hours on each one, which has to be supervised - that's almost a whole term gone in just one composition, unless they are happy to do it in less time, which they might be if they are confident composers. It was much simpler before 2010.
  8. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    It was 15 years ago now and of course they were all capable of working alone and supporting each other with composition. They didn't need to be taught it, just light touch supervision and suggestions and facilities to record.

    They all wanted to do GCSE Music, but it would have been a waste of everyone's time to have done it as a two-year option. A number went on to the A level specialist music course at Peter Symonds college in Winchester, if you know it.
  9. MTomaskova

    MTomaskova New commenter

    Thank you very much for your detailed reply. I decided not to run it after school. The students have grade 5 theory plus grade 6 saxophone and other woodwind. So she will be able to enter A levels anyway. As one teacher pointed out, even ensemble piece might be tricky because you need at least 2 students and the other potential student didn't start after all. But thank you for all your ideas. We are 2 music teachers at my school but the other teacher has mostly international experience and didn't do UK GCSE for a long time, so it's tricky. Thank you again all the contributors!!!!

    At this year I am teaching BTEC level 2 unit Composition. Eventhough music theory is useful but not directly part of the course (one student refuse to read notes even very musical) I thought to show them some classical pieces and how to work with motif. Do you have any good popular music examples for teaching composition? I can only think of Mozart Sonatas and Bach Inventions. And then pop song 4 bars scheme cliche.
  10. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    For competent musicians GCSE music is a bit of a waste of time. My son's sixth form were pleased he had grade 6 theory and not at all interested in whether or not he had GCSE. The composition learned at GCSE is the only thing they won't have experience of, but what's required is so basic and terrible that it can be a hindrance rather than a help.

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