I wasn't advocating voice as being any less legitimate than any other instrument and I'm sorry if my post intimated that. I put voice in inverted commas purely to emphasise that it was indeed an instrument which can be used for the composition element of the GCSE which I thought some people might not initially realise. I apologise if my post was misunderstood
My school (15yrs ago) wanted grade 5 standard for GCSE just to ensure pupils would be able to cope with the performance aspect and get a good enough grade. It is really useful to have done theory to about the same level as well so you don't have to learn these things from scratch.
You don't need a particular instrument but I have to say being able to play piano is a huge help. You can do performance on any peice, but piano (or any chordal instrument) means you can compose much much more easily. I don't play it properly and felt at a big disadvantage and got my worst grade (B) in music.
I think playing drums only could make it difficult for your son to compose pieces with the required complexity/harmonies etc. It might be completely different now though so chat to the teacher about compostion requirements.
You don't need music grade exams to do music gcse - ds1 had a music scholarship and has never sat a single grade exam! Usually to do gcse though they would want you to be at least grade 5 standard. The options booklet normally specifies the requirements
I have never heard of a school wanting certain instruments over any other. There was one person in ds's class who chose "voice" as her instrument. Composition is part of the gcse exam (I think it may have been one third when ds did his 3 years ago but can't remember exactly) but with computer software it is easy to create something for any instrument.
Depends which exam board you do as to whether you need Grade 5 theory to move onto grade 6 prac, with some boards you can do grade 6 but need the theory to do grade 7. Some syllabuses you don't need theory at all. However, grade 5 theory is a useful and desireable qual for a young musician.
You don'tneed to have done grades to doGCSE Music unless the school has its own course entry policy. Children achieving A* - B grades are generally around grade 3 plus, although to get the A* they need to do two immaculate performances, compose at least two outstanding pieces and achieve very high marks in the listening exam (90% + Edexcel board). It's not an 'easy' subject choice and just because a child is a superb performer doesn't guarantee them the A*.
Any instrument can be offered at GCSE. One of my folk band players offered tin whistle (and got a B).
Grades start at grade 1 (easiest) and go up to grade 8. You can start at any level, and can miss some out if you want. Kids who start an instrument older usually learn faster, so tend to start on a higher grade.
To do grade 6, you need to have passed grade 5 theory.
My son has been having drum lessons at school now for about 3 years and has never been offered the chance to do a grade exam. I am told by his school they will now offer him the chance to do grades starting at grade 5.
He is in year 8 and wants to do music gcse will he need music grades to do music gcse, if so are certain instruments more acceptable than others?