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GCSE

The Music Department at Thetford Grammar School is at the heart of the school community. The Department takes an active part in the very busy musical life of the school, performing in many concerts and events in the local area. We have a team of highly experienced visiting teachers and operate as a centre for Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music practical and theory exams. Music GCSE can be taken in the options blocks or as a twilight subject.

Music is seen by employers and universities as a subject that fosters a number of valuable skills: teamwork and communication, self-motivation, discipline and creative thinking to name but a few. Music GCSE is considered an interesting subject to see on a job or university application. If you wish to specialise, the music business is one of the biggest in the UK, with a wide range of opportunities. You may wish to take the study of Music further to A level or beyond and Music GCSE is a good preparation. Specialist jobs include Music Therapy, Teaching, Production Promotion, Recording Engineer, Composer, Publisher, Music Management and Performance.

Course Outline

There are three main elements to the course:

1. Listening exam 40%. Pupils take final exam at the end of Year 11 based on the study of several pieces of music and musical language.

2. Performing coursework 30%. Prepare and record one solo and one ensemble performance for a final assessment. Pupils will continually work on their performance during the course. Where Music is taken in the options blocks there will also be opportunities to study Music Technology.

3. Composing coursework 30%. Compose two pieces totaling a minimum of 3 minutes duration. One must be based on ideas from a selection of composition briefs and one is of your own free choice. These could be in any style. Pupils compose five pieces throughout the course during practical lessons and select the best two for submission.

Assessment Information

Performing and composing are marked through non –exam assessment. As each piece of work is produced it is marked internally by Music Department staff. It is returned to the pupil for review and development. Pupils will submit their best examples of work to the exam board at the end of the course. The listening exam is based on the set works and topic areas studied throughout the course. This is marked externally.

A Level

Music A Level develops the skills of performing, composing and listening through the study of set works and practical application. Students who prefer both classical and rock music genres can all succeed at A level Music.

Students should preferably play an instrument to at least Grade 5 ABRSM or Rock School standard and have completed Music GCSE. Less musically able performers who have an aptitude for composition and ICT should consider taking A level Music Technology, rather than straight A level Music, as there is less emphasis on performance. Some students take both Music and Music Technology A levels as two separate subjects.

There are many opportunities to become involved in extracurricular music activities for Sixth Formers, such as leading the House Music Competition and main school concerts. Groups from the school regularly perform at high profile events within the school, the community and abroad. For composers, there are opportunities to enter national and local competitions.

Course Outline


Component 1: Performing


You will develop your performance skills by preparing a performance consisting of one or more pieces of your own choice. Any instrument or voice can be used and the performance may include solos, ensembles or a combination of both. Your best performance will be recorded and submitted to Edexcel for moderation. Performances should be at a minimum of approximately grade 4/5 standard ABRSM, Rock School, Guildhall or Trinity Rock and Pop, but it is not necessary to have taken these graded exams. Higher grade performances will be weighted accordingly. Please ask Dr Stoppard for advice regarding the level of performance if you are unsure.

Component 2: Composing


You may compose at least two pieces, one to a brief set by the exam board and one free composition. To prepare for this element of the course you will study compositional techniques and learn how to harmonise a section of music. You will also learn to use composition software such as Sibelius or Cubase. You may compose an acoustic or an electronic piece and it may be in either a classical or non-classical style. Most styles of music are possible for this element of the course.

Component 3: Appraising


You will study six areas of music, each with three set works. The six areas are: Vocal Music, Instrumental Music, Film, Pop and Jazz, Fusions and New Directions. There is a two hour exam comprising of listening questions and more extended essay writing.