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Music Exam Information

GCSE

Course Content

GCSE Music is suitable for any and all students with a love of and interest in music. It is a particularly good option for those who already play an instrument or sing to a good standard as these skills count towards your final grade. Although there is no minimum standard required to start the course, please note that there is an expectation from the exam board that GCSE Music students are around grade III or IV standard (ABRSM/Trinity) by the end of Year 11 in order to access the top grades.

Studying Music to GCSE allows students to extend and develop their skills and knowledge in the key areas of Listening, Analysing, Composing and Performing. Students will find out more about different types of music, investigate how music is put together, write their own pieces and improve their performance skills both as a soloist and within an ensemble.

In addition to developing music based skills, students also develop many general skills such as independent learning, research, planning and problem solving. Music qualifications are highly regarded by colleges of further education and employers alike as musicians are trained to work methodically and to be self-disciplined. 

Areas of Study and Set Works

  • Instrumental Music 1700 – 1820: Bach (Brandenburg Concerto No.5 in D major movement III) Beethoven (Piano Sonata Op.13 No.8 in C minor)
  • Vocal Music: Purcell (Music for a While) Mercury (Killer Queen)
  • Music for Stage and Screen: Schwartz (Defying Gravity from Wicked) Williams (excerpts from Star Wars Episode IV)
  • Fusions: Afro Celt Sound System (Release) Esperanza Spalding (Samba Em Prelúdio)

Course Structure

The course is divided into three main areas. Composition (coursework) is worth 30%, Performance (exam) is worth 30% and the final written examination based on the set works is worth 40%.

Reading and Resources

All students are provided with an anthology with contains all the set works, as well as a listening book, CD and revision guide. Copies of the course textbook which provide wider reading and listening opportunities can be found in the school library. 

Exam Board: Edexcel

A Level

Course Content

GCSE music is desirable but not a pre-requisite. However, it is expected that all students will have a secure working knowledge of music theory as well as a minimum of Grade V on their principal instrument or voice at the start of the course. Please note that there is an expectation from the exam board that A Level Music students should be around grade VI - VII (ABRSM/Trinity) by the end of Sixth Form in order to access the top grades.The course provides further development of the skills gained through GCSE in the key areas of Listening, Analysing, Composing and Performing.

Areas of Study and Set Works

  • Vocal Music: Bach (excerpts from Cantata “Ein feste Burg” BWV 80) Mozart (excerpts from Act 1 of Die Zauberflöte) Williams (excerpts from On Wenlock Edge)
  • Instrumental Music: Vivaldi (Concert in D minor Op.3 No.11) Schumann (Piano Trio in G minor movement I) Berlioz (Symphonie Fantastique movement I)
  • Music for Film: Herrmann (excerpts from Psycho) Portman (excerpts from The Duchess) Elfman (excerpts from Batman Returns)
  • Popular Music and Jazz: Beatles (selected works) Courtney Pine (selected works) Kate Bush (selected works)
  • Fusions: Debussy (excerpts from Estampes) Shankar (excerpts from Breathing Under Water) Miranda (excerpts from Caña Quema)
  • New Directions: Cage (excerpts from Three Dances for Prepared Piano) Saariaho (excerpts from Petals for Cello Solo and Optional Electronics) Stravinsky (excerpts from Le sacre du printemps)

Course Structure

As with GCSE the course is divided into three main areas. Composition (coursework) is worth 30%, Performance (exam) is worth 30% and the final written examination based on the set works is worth 40%.

Reading and Resources

All students are provided with an anthology with contains all the set works, as well as a listening book, CD and revision guide. There are several books which provide wider reading and listening opportunities can be found in the school library.

Exam Board: Edexcel