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GCSE Music

Why Choose GCSE Music?

This course will provide a contemporary, accessible and creative education in music with an integrated approach to the three main elements – performing, composing and appraising.  Learners are encouraged to be creative and to broaden their musical horizons and understanding with areas of study that inspire and challenge, including popular music from 1950's to present day, film and video game music, The Concerto through Time and Rhythms of the World. Students will explore performance and composition with a focus on their own instrument and genre choices and offer opportunity to explore new instrumental skills. Through the various genres, styles and eras contained in our areas of study they will explore musical context, musical language, and performance and composition skills. GCSE Music is designed to appeal to, and cater for, a wide range of interests, instruments, personalities and directions. Learners will have the opportunity to explore instruments and Areas of Study depending on their personal preference and ability.

What do I need to be able to do/know?

Students should be able to confidently sing or play an instrument.  They would also benefit from having good basic keyboard skills and notation reading skills.  There is no written work in Music GCSE – all coursework is practical.  There is only one exam, in the form of a listening paper, at the end of year 11, worth 40% of the final mark.  We strongly advise students to be having lessons on their instrument if they wish to take music GCSE.

Where can GCSE Music take me?

Music GCSE is a great course to prepare students for A-level or Diploma/BTEC level music/performing arts courses. Music graduates have a wide range of career options available to them both inside and outside the industry, including: performer, teacher, administrator, songwriter, conductor, composer, recording engineer, manager, promoter, or music publisher. The range of roles can seem quite endless.  There are also more jobs than ever in music business related areas, such as: careers in digital marketing, social media, PR, technology, label services, ticketing and merchandising. It is also common to find music graduates in consultancy, finance, banking, music therapy and legal jobs. Studying music can give you a great mix of social, technical and business skills, which can all help with employability later in life.


Year 10   -  OCR GCSE (9-1) Music (J536)


Year 11  -  OCR GCSE Music 9-1  (J536)









AOS 1 (My Music)

Building Performance Skills

During this term, students will be introduced to the GCSE course and will learn how to rehearse and perform a solo piece of music to a small audience.



“An Introduction to Composing”

Melodic and Harmonic Composition Skills using Sibelius and Garageband

Techniques of Composing: tune and accompaniment, link with AOS 2 (The Concerto) though Time)

Solo instrument and Accompaniment

Solo Instrument and Orchestra

Piano and guitar accompaniment styles (link with Pop Music)

October Class Showcase – video, programme notes and appraisals.

Performance development over time.




Listening and composition activities.


Set Brief Composition (AOS 2-5)

Set Brief Composition launched (Controlled Assessment) – three hours a fortnight. This will require students to compose a piece of music in a particular style and using a given stimulus.


AOS 2 (The Concerto through Time)

Baroque , Classical and Romantic Concerto and orchestral changes through time.


Composition submitted in a recorded form and accompanied by a score, lead sheet or written commentary (15%)






Listening Tests

Short composition exercises.


Ensemble Performance

SATB Vocal Music – voices in harmony

Listening to Choral Music and performing as a whole class: focus on texture, harmony, dynamics, articulation and performance skills within a group.

Christmas Ely Cathedral Performance – Dec 2019

AOS 1 (My Music)

Preparing for and recording GCSE performance pieces – 4 minutes of the student performing at least two pieces, one of which must be an ensemble piece.


Regular class performances and feedback

Final recordings in October 2019 (30%). Score/lead sheet must be submitted for each performance.


AOS 5 (Conventions of Pop)

  • Rock ‘n’ Roll of the 1950s and 1960s
  • Rock Anthems of the 1970s and 1980s
  • Pop Ballads of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s
  • Solo Artists from 1990 to the present day


Students compose a piece of music to their own set brief. This is completely free and can be in any style, for any instrument.

Students are expected to use and develop their

knowledge and understanding of rhythm, melody, harmony and compositional techniques.

Group compositions – pop song writing in the style of a chosen genre.

Listening Tests.





Composition submitted in a recorded form and accompanied by a score, lead sheet or written commentary (15%)

Complete review of AOS 4 and 5 (Conventions of Pop and Film Music)


Revision and listening exercises based on Conventions of Pop and Film/Video Game Music.

Revision of key words

Practice papers.







Listening Tests.

Short composition tasks.


AOS 4 (Film Music)

Students study a range of music used for films including:

• music that has been composed specifically for a film

• music from the Western Classical tradition that has been used within a film

• music that has been composed as a soundtrack for a video game

Short composition exercises in groups and individually – composing music to support action on screen.

Complete Review of AOS 2 and 3 (Concerto through Time and Rhythms of the World)

Revision of Vocabulary

Practice Papers

Listening and composition exercises.

Practice Papers.


AOS 3 (Rhythms of the World)

African Drumming




Indian Classical Music

Greek Folk Music

Israeli and Palestinian Folk Music

Listening Tests

Class Workshops

Short composition exercises.


June 2019 – Listening Examination (40%)

Listening examination.