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GCSE Music

Robert Smyth GCSE Concert Folk

GCSE Music (New syllabus from September 2016)

GCSE Music is about performing, composing and listening to music.  You will be encouraged to perform, compose and listen to music in a wide variety of musical styles.  There will also be opportunities to develop your music technology skills in areas such as sequencing and recording.

Why should you study GCSE Music?

If you play an instrument or sing and want to study a subject that:

Involves performing music.
Involves listening to all kinds of music.
Involves composing your own music and being creative.
Gives you the opportunity to sing or play music with others.
Gives you the opportunity to learn about music technology.

then you will enjoy GCSE Music!

What happened to the two choices of Music course at GCSE?

From 2016 we will be teaching only the Edexcel syllabus.
Due to the transition to an 11-18 Academy we can only run one course.
For those students who wish to study Music and Music Technology at A level here at Robert Smyth, the Edexcel Music course prepares students better for this.

What skills do you need to do the course?

You must be able to play an instrument or sing to a reasonable standard (Grade 1 or higher).
If you can’t read music already, you must be willing to learn.
You will also need to have an open mind about all styles of music as the areas of study require you to learn about popular, classical and world music.

What does the new Edexcel course from 2016 consist of?

The areas of study are very broad:

Instrumental Music 1700-1820
Vocal Music
Music for Stage and Screen

There are eight set works to study in total, two from each of these four areas of study.  You will learn about these areas of study and the set works through listening, performing and composing.  You will be assessed on your knowledge of the set works in a written listening exam at the end of Year 11.


Coursework – 60%

One solo performance – 15%.
One ensemble (group) performance – 15%.
Composition 1 – 15%.
Composition 2 – 15%.

Examination – 40%

The exam consists of a 1¾ hour written paper at the end of Year 11 which tests your listening skills and your knowledge of the set works from the areas of study.

Practical work

For your solo and group performances you will be able to perform music of your own choice.  You can either sing or play an instrument.

The two compositions can be in any style of your choice.  You can choose to write for instruments and/or voices.  You need to submit a recording so the piece has to be recorded live or through the use of music software.  You will also need to submit either a score or an annotation (description) of the piece.

Do you have to perform in front of an examiner?

Your performances and compositions are recorded by your teacher, so there is no requirement to have an audience, other than your teacher.  However, if you do like performing to an audience you can choose to perform to the whole class.  There will also be two GCSE concerts throughout the year in which you can participate as a soloist or in a group.

What music software is available?

The department has two classrooms both equipped with a large number of computers each with Sibelius 6, Cubase 7 and Reason 5.  You will be taught how to use these programs so you can use them for composition work.

Is studying music relevant these days?

Apart from improving your performance, composition skills and broadening your knowledge of a wide range of music, the course gives you important general skills.  It gives you an opportunity to express yourself through performing and composing and to be creative in writing your own music. It develops team and social skills as you will sometimes work in groups on performances.  It teaches you to be organised and self-disciplined as you have to practise and work regularly outside of lessons in order to improve your performance and composition skills and meet coursework deadlines.