GCSE Music advice please

(80 Posts)
runforthehills65 Fri 03-May-13 12:16:50

My son showed no interest in playing an instrument until Year 7. He is now in Year 8 and about to take Trinity Grade 1 piano.

He practises a fair amount at home and does seem to be able to play pieces by ear quite easily.

I am not musical at all and wondered whether this level is too low to do GCSE Music? His music teacher said he should ideally be grade 3 level but thinks he will cope.

Anyone whose DC has taken GSCE Music and how hard is it?

He's got to chose now for Year 9 and I don't want him taking this if he will really struggle and could chose another option, ie. geography or 2nd language.


circular Fri 03-May-13 12:46:59

Depends when he is likely to need to do the performance element, and what grade he would want from the GCSE.

The performance is 30% of the marks overall, grade 3 generally the minimum standard. Extra marks are awarded for difficulty, so for a grade 5 piece it is possible to get full marks with a couple of slip ups.

Composition makes up 30% so if that is his strong area can get extra marks there.

The listening and appraising paper is worth 40.

If he is a piano player, the keyboard skills will give him an advantage.

My DD is in yr11 taking GCSE music and says it is the singers that struggle the most with the non performance elements.

BackforGood Fri 03-May-13 13:27:53

My dd is in Yr9 so just chosen her options.
She has grade 3 in both piano and flute, but regularly plays pieces that are more difficult, just doesn't like the whole scales / aural stuff for the exams yes, I was surprised when she said she wanted to take GCSE music too. The music teachers said that she would be OK.... in the same breath they also said that she would be working at Grade 5 level when she takes the GCSE, so from Grade 1 in Yr8, it's going to be much harder work for your ds, but probably do-able.
OTOH, my niece, who is an excellent guitarist, and can play a bit of piano by ear, but not read any music at the end of Yr9, is just about to take her GCSE and doing fine with that. I don't know if different boards put an emphasis on different aspects of the music ?

webwiz Fri 03-May-13 15:49:41

DS is in year 11 and is taking music gcse, it will probably be his lowest grade out of all his gcses despite the fact that he's grade 7 on the guitar. He just hasn't got to grips with the composing, finds the listening paper very difficult and he ended up recording his solo performance when he wasn't ready to do it (long story!). He's enjoyed the course but it has been appearing on reports as "not on track for target grade" for the last 18 months now so we are resigned to whatever grade he gets.

eatyourveg Fri 03-May-13 16:44:54

Criteria in dc's school is the potential to reach at grade 5 by exam time

Leeds2 Fri 03-May-13 17:00:11

My DD doesn't do Music GCSE, but I have just checked the notes we were given when she made her choices and it says that a student should be aiming to be of Grade 5 standard by the summer term of the exam.

BackforGood Fri 03-May-13 18:12:33

Seems fairly consistent then... that might be a tall order for someone who is just about to take Grade1 3 years before?

circular Fri 03-May-13 19:10:38

Backforgood When DD chose her options 2 years ago, she was told it would be the first year that Edexcel music syllabus had made it compulsory to be able to read music.
I don't think the other boards did then but they may well do now.

gobbin Fri 03-May-13 19:46:22

It's not compulsory to be able to read music to do Edexcel GCSE Music but the compositions must be notated. Some schoold may ask their pupils to do this by hand. We use computer programme Sibelius which all our kids handle from Yr 7 and isn't difficult to be creative with. In fact, I would go as far as to say that any school which insists on its pupils writing out their work longhand is doing them a disservice, especially weak pupils.

This year we have a pupil who is a very weak performer and has had to work really hard to grasp much of the listening element (in line to get an F or E on a good day) but her first composition was magic.

runforthehills65 Fri 03-May-13 20:02:08

Thanks for replies. Just looked at his school and they do Edexcel GCSE Music. When I spoke to his music teacher about my worries at his level she said if he does well in grade 1 he can skip to grade 3 straightaway. His 1st exam is June so this is all very new to us.

I guess we need wait and see how he does in this exam, if it all goes wrong maybe he can still change to another subject for his option. He does seem to have really taken a shine to music though.

MTSCostcoChickenFan Fri 03-May-13 20:17:07

runfor - unless your DS hates the alternatives I suggest that he picks one of those options and pursue his music via the music gradings route. That way he gets a GCSE in Geography AND a Grade x in Piano. He can even take a grading in Music Theory.

We had a look at uni admissions and some unis do give you credit points for grades passed. I am of course talking about grade 5 or above.

gobbin Fri 03-May-13 20:28:17

Music GCSE is so much more than performance though MTS and, whilst I agree that having GCSE Music isn't the be-all and end-all of music education, a child that has this qual together with graded performance and theory exams is the more rounded musician.

UCAS points start at Grade 6 and it's worth 20 points. Handy, but not a dealbreaker in unimadmissions.

circular Fri 03-May-13 20:35:08

Gobbin You have a point there re the Edexcel.
Although they were told that about the reading music, there was nothing they did within the syllabus where it seemed vital.
For composition, they had the choice of using software or writing out by hand.

stillenacht Fri 03-May-13 20:42:02

Hi as a music teacher I have pupils at GCSE from grade 1-8 in yr 11. Grade 3/4 is the expected grade for an A* in the performance part of the exam only...if your child is in yr 7 and about to take grade 1 hopefully with concerted practice he should be able to get to grade 3/4 by year 11. However the performance only makes up 20-30% of the overall GCSE depending on the board.

Startail Fri 03-May-13 20:56:45

DD1 who is doing OCR reckons grade 4 when you start.
She is a grade 4 singer and hopefully will have 5 by the time she starts Y11.

She'll certainly get a C, and a B on a very good day. I think it would be easier if she played an instrument, but she's dyslexic and reading the music, remembering the fingering and coordinating both hands at once is just more than her working memory can cope with.

Most of all you have to be enthusiastic and happy to have a go at anything, DD was playing base guitar the other day to give someone else the vocal part.

MTSCostcoChickenFan Fri 03-May-13 21:03:30

gobbin - I accept that there is more to GCSE Music than performing but based on admitedly just a few words from the OP, the DS doesn't seem to have a passion for the subject. If that is so then the DS should IMO go for the subject he had the greatest chance of getting a good grade.

Schmedz Fri 03-May-13 21:32:54

If he is now keen on music, practising regularly and ...actually ENJOYING it, why shouldn't he aim for GCSE music? He will have a lot of catching up to do in regards to the performance side of things, but there is no reason he couldn't cope with the listening and composing elements of the course.

If he is already in Year 8 and doing grade 1, he would probably need to aim to take about two grade levels a year in year 9 and 10 to put him in an average level of performance skills for GCSE (as a general guide at our senior school the children are usually at least grade 6 in their first instrument and often a similar level in a second and even third) however as other posters have pointed out, the performance component is only about a third of the overall grade AND it is possible to give very good quality performances at lower levels of difficulty.

Surely there is some scope to choose GCSE courses based on what you will actually really enjoy studying, rather than just what you think might give you a good mark?

BackforGood Sat 04-May-13 00:14:18

Yes, but as Stillenacht says ^

.if your child is in yr 7 and about to take grade 1 hopefully {and} with concerted practice he should be able to get to grade 3/4 by year 11.

IME (3 dcs with 6 instruments between them) most children are enthusiastic and willing to practice to begin with, it's after the initial enthusiasm has worn off, it becomes more of a chore.
So I guess it's a bit down the your dc's personality and determination to achieve in music, as much as their actual musical ability.
To my mind, it would depend on what the other options are though, and how close a decision it is between doing music and something else.

Wuldric Sat 04-May-13 00:24:09

I've been working on the basis of a grade a year, although this has not actually been true of either of my DCs (DD took two years over grade 4 and DS two years over grade 3).

Both are doing music GCSE and as an unmusical parent I thought my DCs should need to be aiming at Grade 4ish by year 11 to do really well in the exam. Doing Grade 1 in Year 8 means that your DS should get there given concerted practice etc.

From the outside looking in, Music GCSE is not a soft option at all.

FranKatzenjammer Sat 04-May-13 00:44:04

Could he take up a second instrument? On some woodwind and brass instruments, it is possible to make more rapid progress in the early grades. The clarinet, cornet or trumpet might be a possibility if he has the aptitude for it.

Schmedz Sat 04-May-13 16:33:55

Stillenacht...surely grade 3/4 is not the standard level for an A* in performance. That seems very low ( I stand by my comment that you can perform well at that level but surely there is some allowance for the difficulty of the repertoire to get that very top mark?)

BackforGood Sat 04-May-13 17:01:22

Not everybody except on MN expects / needs / presumes their dc will get A*s for their GCSEs though Schmedz. There are lots of other grades available wink

mysteryfairy Sat 04-May-13 18:45:22

My DSs were encouraged to play pieces well below the level they were working at for their GCSE music performances as apparently playing a lower standard piece flawlessly gets a better mark than a more difficult piece with any error in. DS2 dragged out a grade 5 piece for his solo performance recently and I'm not even sure that was the easiest piece either of them entered. DS1 has A* and DS2 predicted A*.

The GCSE performance for DS2 (AQA) involved one solo and one ensemble piece. The music department at his school were not supportive in pulling an ensemble together and DS2 had to sort this out himself and get the others he had commandeered to rehearse at lunch etc. He played trombone for other people's ensembles in return... Don't know how he would have fared had he not been a desirable performer to swap with or had the musical experience to organise and rehearse his ensemble. DS1's school have a much stronger music department who organise all the ensembles - might be worth finding out how much support your son would get in this. DS1's school had their entire senior swing band in at 8.15 am a couple of weeks ago for his AS performance. DS1 is a grade 8 pianist but chose to play bass for this, claiming it's too hard to do well in this element on piano - again might be worth checking if there is any truth in this (v possible DS1 just fancied playing bass and said something to shut me up).

My DS2 is a very unmotivated student though a good performer and the composition has been a complete pain to get him to finish. They did two pieces, one had to be a certain style and one could be anything. I'm sure they were given directed time at school but we had to stand over DS2 reluctantly doing hours and hours of it at home. We bought Sibelius (£200ish) to enable this. It's obviously not required to have but across both schools my DSs are at I'd say most students had it, though some had a cheaper student edition. This element has definitely taken up more time than coursework for other subjects so I think worth making sure your son is keen on this element and will enjoy it.

Schmedz Sat 04-May-13 21:55:24

BackforGood I wasn't commenting on whether A* are expected/needed/presumed by anyone, only that Stillenacht had mentioned grade 3/4 was the expected standard to get an A* in the performance component. I am a junior school music teacher and quite a few of my Year 4 students are playing at that level, so it surprised me that what they can do would be considered A* at GCSE...that's all. Personally I think that is way too low a standard to gain such an outstanding mark at GSCE.
You might also have read that I think you shouldn't choose your GCSEs based on what you think will get you the 'best' grade but what you actually are interested in studying.

MTSCostcoChickenFan Sat 04-May-13 22:02:16

I'm a parent of a DC taking GCSE Music as opposed to a teacher but from reading various forums grade 3 to 4 does not equate to an A*

MTSCostcoChickenFan Sat 04-May-13 22:03:28

I am obviously talking about the performance component.

BestIsWest Sat 04-May-13 22:04:00

I think enjoyment of your subject is key. Both mine took/are taking Music GCSE because they loved it. Both have said the composition part is the hardest. DD didn't play an instrument (not properly anyway, she could strum a guitar a bit) but sang for the performance part. She got a B. DS does play and well.

Startail Sat 04-May-13 22:13:32

No I don't think you can decide if a grade one pianist will be good enough or enjoy music enough in Y7 to do GCSE music.

As other posters have said just being a competent performer isn't enough, you really do have to enjoy music. DD sings in both school choirs and a church group. She happily gives up three day of half term to do a county workshop. Often she sings for no good reason, it's just what she does.

The ensemble performances rely on a have a good, willing to try something different attitude and enthusiastic supportive staff.

Does the school do good concerts, are their lots of lunch time groups. Is there rock, jazz, pop, different instrument groups not just classical orchestra. Go to a concert and judge for yourself the standard of the pupils and the enthusiasm of the staff.

If your DS 'likes' practicing, is happy to accompany other musicians and have a stab at singing or other instruments then great. If he just plods through his grades to please Mum and put them on his UCAS form I'd be loathed to do GCSE.

Like art and drama, GCSE music is more than simply a grade it needs to fit what makes you tick or it will not end well.

Viewofthehills Sat 04-May-13 22:17:37

DD is in yr 10 now doing music. All of the composition is now done in controlled assessment at school, none at home. She is on track for an A or A*, but it is still not an easy subject. The listening paper is also reckoned to be difficult.

gobbin Sat 04-May-13 23:40:39

The expected standard for a pupil to achieve an A* in the Performing element at GCSE is a grade 3/4 piece played with excellent accuracy and interpretation. In Edexcel they need to get 27/30 or more to achieve this. If they offer a harder piece, this is scaled so a lower mark on first marking will be scaled up a few marks (there's a scaling grid) accordingly.

What some people won't appreciate is that GCSE Music was designed for your average kid to be able to access the course following Key Stage 3 lessons plus peri instrumental tuition from age 11. The fact that most kids doing Music have private instrumental lessons and have had them for years, often with Theory exams as a bonus, means that many schools put a 'minimum access tariff' on the course (e.g. 'You can't do Music unless you're Grade 5 on your instrument').

This goes totally against the spirit of the course, although with pressures of a results-driven education system I can understand why schools do it. We don't - we're inclusive, but also cater for the elite.

Oh, and anyone whose teachers are allowing pupils to do composition work outside the classroom and bring it in are in danger of being busted if they get inspected by their exam board. All composition work is supervised coursework and they're not allowed to take it off site.

Tingalingle Sun 05-May-13 08:52:08

Gobbin -- that's worrying me a bit. DS writes songs bloody endlessly when he should be doing other things and assures me that his teacher has said he can base some of his composition on one he's already written.

Should I be more suspicious about this?

Moominmammacat Sun 05-May-13 08:56:14

He doesn't actually have to take music exams ... just learn a couple of Grade 3 pieces.

stillenacht Sun 05-May-13 09:03:24

As Gobbin says smile

gobbin Sun 05-May-13 09:03:59

Tingalingle they can develop ideas anywhere, anytime, so your son thinking/singing at home is fine.

What they aren't allowed to do is begin writing it up in school (longhand or Sibelius etc.) take it home to continue writing it up via usb stick or manuscript then bring it back to school.

All the work done on a composition must be identifiably their own. If it's left the school then the teacher cannot know who else has worked on it or given assistance.

stillenacht Sun 05-May-13 09:05:30

However one point regarding composition we do OCR and you can work on compositional IDEAS outside the classroom

stillenacht Sun 05-May-13 09:06:27

Gobbin you and I..same hymn sheet ;)

gobbin Sun 05-May-13 09:11:22

Yeah stillenacht same for Edexcel and WJEC. Just not the actual printed/written doc that is being submitted for marking.

circular Sun 05-May-13 11:05:02

That sounds exactly like it was structured for DD1 with Edexcel Gobbin. On hindsight, it looks like they were trying to steer those that were weaker academically or could not read music to the Btec Performing Arts.

They were told for performances that it was not worth going above grade 5 as the maximum difficulty marks were fir grade 5 standard.

DD expected to be weak at co position as no imagination. She found doing her Grade 5 theory last summer helped, and was lucky in that the co pulsars composition was minimalist which she did on Garage Band. She scraped an A* in that, and was advised to do her second composition on Garage Band also.

Runfor Just realised your DS is choosing options to start in tear 9. Does that mean they chose some each year and do a one year course? (I know some schools do this) If so, would it be possible to wait a year and chose music next year if still keen?

Also, don't underestimate the time that Music takes up, and at least me extra curricular activity is likely to be compulsory, most will do more.
Is he likely to be taking any other practical subjects that would also have a high workload - Art, Tech subject, textiles?

RussiansOnTheSpree Sun 05-May-13 13:08:59

Stillenacht (helige nacht?) - DD1 did her creative task for OCR this week. It was done from a prompt, and is was exactly like an exam, done to time and invigilated. You could use ideas that are in your brain but that's it.

Schmedz Sun 05-May-13 14:36:47

Gobbin..does that mean that a child who plays a grade 3 piece to an excellent standard will get the same grade as someone who plays a much higher grade piece to an excellent standard? Even if the child who got to a higher grade started learning at age 11?

I think it is commendable to encourage all musical abilities to take the course (after all, isn't it designed to teach and improve skills...if not, then what is the point?). It is just I also think that A* should surely be reserved for a few outstanding performers otherwise what does it really mean? I happen to think that achieving an A or B in a really rigorous course is actually pretty fantastic and would be very proud if either of my DCs managed this (but with a quality grade 4 as A* performance standard then my 10 year old should have done her GCSE Music already... and she is certainly not that unusual at her school in her musical experience...)

OP should certainly not worry that her child won't be able to manage the course because he has clear self motivation to start an instrument and work to passing his first exam already. That self motivation will get him through anything he puts his mind to and will ensure he will achieve to the best of his ability.

webwiz Sun 05-May-13 15:05:52

Schmedz the performance element is only a small part of the course so being able to perform a solo piece perfectly while being recorded is worth 15% of the GCSE (thats edexcel I don't know about the others). Don't knock it as a task there are specific criteria that you are marked against and it can be a nerve racking experience.

Overall for the specification DS is taking you have to be able to do a solo performance, perform in an ensemble, produce two compositions and take a final listening paper which seems to cover the entire history of music as far as I can see. To get an A* you have to be pretty good at all the requirements.

Schmedz Sun 05-May-13 15:43:09

I have little recent experience of what the GCSE course involves, now being a JS music teacher, so am very aware that performance is only one component and there are a number of modules which are taken, with set works studied. I was just shocked to learn that the 'grading' of performance required for an A* in that particular component is so low, especially as I am acutely aware of the skills required to give an outstanding performance.
I have no doubt of the musical skills required to gain an outstanding mark for the other components or the fact that top marks across the board are required.

gobbin Sun 05-May-13 15:57:16

Schmedz as Webwiz said it's actually very challenging for a pupil to achieve A* across all three components and those that do I would consider to be talented. In Edexcel you have to achieve 90% plus to get an A* on each component...not an easy task.

When marking a pupil playing a harder piece they are marked against the standard criteria and then scaled up a few marks to account for difficulty. A Grade 5 player can drop a few marks for inaccuracies or a pretty dull performance and regain them on the scaling. A Grade 3 player who drops a few marks stays on that mark, if you see what I mean. However, the system was designed that a Grade 3 player can achieve full marks.

Again, remember that GCSE was designed for kids like mine, in a comp in the south Wales valleys where many rely on the peri service for their 1/2 hr (often shared) lesson per week and music tuition via school lessons, not just those having private prac/theory lessons.

Tingalingle Sun 05-May-13 16:04:52

Gobbin -- thanks!

RussiansOnTheSpree Sun 05-May-13 18:10:13

This is something I have seen on other threads too - this implication that private lessons and peri lessons are qualitatively different. Not in this part of the country, they aren't. Nor in the London borough where I grew up. The only difference is, you don't miss eg French if you are having a lesson outside school. My kids all have a mixture of private and peri lessons for their many instruments and there is no practical, financial or qualitative difference between either type of lesson. And all of the people who teach them work as both peris and give private lessons as well (and most of them also give lessons in the posh schools. And one of them is the main tutor on that instrument for the regional conservatoire scheme).

gobbin Sun 05-May-13 18:35:06

I hope I'm not giving the impression that our peri staff deliver a poorer service than private colleagues. I'm making the point that PUPILS are up against it in terms of making progress when the system/funding is often against them.

Ours are amazing and are capable of wonderful things in the time constraints in school, like getting children from nothing to Grade 5 on cello in 2.5 years and many Grade 6 - 8 candidates on short or shared lessons. We work as a very close knit team and most also run an ensemble for us too, feeding into the County system.

webwiz Sun 05-May-13 21:08:31

My DCs have had instrumental lessons with both private and peri teachers and peri ones are just infinitely worse than private ones. Again nothing to do with the quality of the teachers but the missing bit of lessons is just a pain. We had several battles with teachers who refused to let DD1 leave their class for her piano lesson, DD2's paired flute lesson when the other girl arrived at random times during the lesson and the big fuss that DS's drama teacher made about the scheduling of his singing lessons to clash with controlled assessments for several weeks running.

DS's guitar teacher has been coming to the house once a week for half an hour for the past 6 years and there is no added complications. He's cheaper than the school music service as well.

BellaVita Sun 05-May-13 21:36:39

DS1 (yr11) chose music. Back in Dec we got his review through from school - he was given an E. When it came to his parent consultation evening, everything was going swimmingly until our appt time for the music teacher and DS burst into tears and said we were not going to like what the teacher had to say. Actually, his music teacher was lovely and we discovered that DS didn't like the subject even though he loved it in years 7, 8 and 9.

With a lot of extra work and some help he is now on track for a C. I told him we would be happy with whatever happened as long as he tried his best.

RussiansOnTheSpree Sun 05-May-13 21:46:31

Webwiz - even if the peri teachers you have had have been poor (and it is by no means clear from what you've said that the fault lies with the peris - it sounds to me as though the fault lies with the school) - that still doesn't mean that all peris are poor. As I said, in the two places I have experienced music tuition - the London borough I grew up in, and the place I live now, hundreds of miles away - there isn't a split between peris and private teachers. Private teachers are also peris. Peris are also private teachers. And so on.

Gobbin - you did seem to be casting learning an instrument at school in a poor light, yes, even though you didn't explicitly criticize the quality of the peris, you criticized the quality of the experience. And as I said I have seen many many similar and worse comments on a variety of threads from a variety of teachers (some wishing to push the idea that music in private schools is always better than music at state schools, some wishing to promote the idea that peris are terrible and that learning privately out of school is the only way to go). Many of my friends are instrumental teachers (as part of their career portfolios) and it really annoys me to see sweeping, rude and negative comments about an entire profession.

RussiansOnTheSpree Sun 05-May-13 21:47:54

Variety of posters, sorry. Not teachers. I don't think I have seen any instrumental teachers criticising peris.

I know it's an anecdote, but I took GCSE music 11 years ago just because I enjoyed it - I could only vaguely read music and played the keyboard. I also sang, and used CuBase (and tape cassettes!) to compose. I got an A*. I would suggest there is no need to read music but the composition element of the exam is the most difficult and if there is no natural ability for this then your DS may find it difficult.

webwiz Sun 05-May-13 21:57:56

Russians I haven't said the peris were poor, I said that there was nothing wrong with the quality of their teaching but there were problems with the actually organisation of the lessons in school.

RussiansOnTheSpree Sun 05-May-13 22:22:06

Webwiz Peri ones are just infinitely worse than private ones

Not a huge amount of wriggle room there. I pointed out myself that your specific issues seemed to be with the school. But your headline statement was quite, um, forceful, no?

webwiz Sun 05-May-13 22:27:57

I was talking about the experience of as a whole, this is my second sentence

Again nothing to do with the quality of the teachers but the missing bits of lessons is just a pain

Startail Sun 05-May-13 22:32:16

I can't imagine DD1 having peripatetic lessons in school this year.
English CAs and core science to the final GCSE have been an absolute pain without trying to slip out of lessons to learn an instrument.

She quietly dropped her SN help because she hated lessons. She's dyslexic, but bright and very difficult to help.)

She did flute in Y8 and that was a nightmare because the lessons moved to avoid annoying one particular teacher, but they also seemed to move and be cancelled and grouped and in grouped as well because teachers were ill, pupils dropped in and out and teachers changed.

Her private singing lessons move, both for the teacher and DD1's convenience, but at least we know what's going on several days in advance. Not at 9am on the day of the lesson.

Startail Sun 05-May-13 22:32:48

Hated leaving lessons

BackforGood Sun 05-May-13 23:19:39

Russians - I think webwiz was very clear that she was talking about the 'whole experience or having lessons through the school' and not the quality of any individual teacher. For what it's worth that has totally been my experience with 3 different children learning 3 different instruments though the schools service here, vs the quality of experience they got in having a lesson outside of school. It's to do with the lesson being a shared lesson, to do with them being a bit shorter to begin with, but then never getting the full lesson because someone will have forgotten to come so the teacher sends another pupil to fetch them, etc.,etc., not the quality of any individual teacher (as I think webwiz made perfectly clear). Great if that's not been your experience, but sadly it is the experience of a lot of people.

RussiansOnTheSpree Sun 05-May-13 23:36:32

Peri lessons don't have to be shared. None of the lessons at Dd1s or DSs schools are shared. They also don't have to be shorter, all my 3 kids have half hour lessons for the 4 instruments they learn between them at their various schools. Admittedly Dd1 has an hour lesson for her first study instrument which she learns outside school (it isn't offered at her school). Clearly some MNetters do not like the experience or the idea of learning instruments at school but huge numbers of people have positive experiences. I'm perfectly happy to accept some people have crap experiences, I only ever comment when they make sweeping comments such as the ones above.

titchy Mon 06-May-13 00:08:04

Well my experience of Peri teachers has been fantastic - 3 instruments between 2 dcs. Individual half hour lesson for all, if the next kid is away, ill or has forgotten my dc gets to stay on rather than the teacher having an extra half hour spare. Lesson times are rotated so dc doesn't miss the same lesson each week. Fully expect to get to G8 using peri music service - am currently topping up with music service's Saturday theory course for a term but that's it (unless they fail g5 theory ...). Can't fault them!

titchy Mon 06-May-13 00:08:58

Oh and a lot cheaper than private - £12ph rather then £18

gobbin Mon 06-May-13 10:08:52

Russians I'm pleased your DC's are having a fantastic peri experience. Your children are lucky to be in a school that is highly funded for peri tuition (whether by parents or school).

What I and Webwiz are saying (and I say this as having been Head of Music in my school for 17 years before moving up) is that in SOME schools the SYSTEM makes it harder for pupils to achieve in that they have to:

a) negotiate getting out of lessons. In some schools this can be a challenge with staff. In mine in the early days we had to have a directive from the Head in a staff meeting insisting that pupils were to be allowed out as some staff would stop them leaving. Pupils still get pressure from staff but nobody actually prevents them, but they occasionally get a hard time. This is common in state schools;

b) share a lesson. If you have an oversubscribed peri system with a waiting list in some instruments, you have to manage time. Here, we've managed to work it so that pupils either have a 20min individual lesson or half hr shared. In some instruments with fewer learners they are able to have a half hr lesson on their own, but this is changing next year owing to cutbacks in funding from County.

I'd be interested to know Russians how much you get charged for your DCs lessons. From Sept we'll be charging £120 a year. That helps to cover the £10,000 EXTRA tuition we buy in from the County on top of the £20,000 they provide us free. If we didn't buy in the extra, a third of our tuition would go. If we charge any more the parents would vote with their feet and stop lessons (you see, I teach in an economically deprived area). Are you aware/surprised that it costs £30k per year to fund lessons for just ONE school for approx 100 pupils? Nearly all schools in my area pass this cost onto parents. They understand that, if their child wants lessons, they have to pay a nominal amount towards the cost and their child may have to share.

Our string/wind/guitar teachers are in 8.30am until 4.15pm. They can't physically teach any more pupils in the time allowed. They are in other schools on other days. If kids all had individual half hr lessons we'd need them in for another half day each at least. This would cost another £250 per week, (or another £8,250 per 33 guaranteed peri teaching weeks a year). Our school and our parents can't afford that.

Our Music Peri Service has won national awards for quality. I haven't stated anywhere that the quality of PERI TUITION is less than private, just the EXPERIENCE.

My son has private violin lessons in the evening with my school's violin peri. He has an individual half hr lesson with an excellent teacher for which we pay the full whack. He wouldn't get the same experience in school owing to FUNDING, TIMING and LESSON SHARING.

Is it absolutely crystal clear now that we're not knocking peri staff teaching?

gobbin Mon 06-May-13 10:15:24

I'd also like to say that we offer lessons in upper/lower strings, all woodwind, all brass, all guitar, drum kit, orchestral percussion and voice, with harp coming through next year. The only instrument we don't offer is piano as there are lots of excellent teachers in the community.

All on £30k a year, remember...

stillenacht Tue 07-May-13 09:02:28

Russians...the creative task is an exam so not the same rules as the controlled assessments (compositions) . Of course wedo loads of CT practice and I give them a booklet I created of tips and hints as to how to do well...I go through the booklet in precise detail...in the CT exam it's just them, their instrument or computer and the stimulus though (and me praying that they have remembered my hints and tips!) smile

hellsbells99 Tue 07-May-13 12:09:22

My DDs are both doing GCSE music. They both very much enjoy it although elder DD did get a bit stressed doing the last composition. All her course work is completed and she will be doing the exam in 2 weeks. She has passed grade 5 in 2 instruments. She said playing the piano helped a lot with the compositions. She also said that doing her grade 5 theory had been a big advantage although not essential. She is probably on target to get an A which she will be happy with. Although her grade 5 music exams were high marks, she didn't score an A* in her GCSE performances (1 mark off in the solo not sure of her group mark). It is not an easy option at all but it has been an enjoyable option. DD2 is in year 10 so has done a couple of performances and is working on her first composition. She is the same music standard as DD1.
I know quite a few taking the GCSE in both years are not a high performance standard but as long as they put the work in and enjoy the subject they seem to be on target to pass okay (but won't get A*s - but life is not all about that).
IMO children should pick a mixture of subjects they need and subjects they enjoy - but will still pass!

jamdonut Wed 08-May-13 20:56:17

My DD is taking GCSE Music this year.

She took Grade 5 theory exam in year 9, and apparently that is harder than the GCSE theory.

It always amazes me that people think Music is a soft option...it is hard work!!

She found doing compositions quite challenging,but performing was easier, and is predicted A if not A*.

She is a flute player, and will be taking Grade 8 by Christmas. ( She had Grade 3 on leaving primary school...the first person to achieve that in that school!)
She plans on doing a music degree,eventually, and wants to be a secondary school music teacher.

I would have loved her to have learned piano properly,(she is self taught,not a great player) but I can barely afford LEA Music fees as it is (Not quite entitled to free school meals and therefore free music lessons!).

She also taught herself to play the guitar.

She spends an awful lot of time in the music department,one way or another,especially at production time!

stillenacht Wed 08-May-13 22:34:23

please don't let her be a secondary school music teacher...it is slavery by a different name. Only about 40% of my job is teaching music.As a musician that is soul destroying..endless admin, reports, exam admin, moving of equipment, sorting out peri issues/clashes with public exams, delivering PSHE, being a form tutor...

stillenacht Wed 08-May-13 22:37:34

also she would need to be pretty good on piano or guitar (grade 5ish) if she wants to get a job in a better school as well as the flute

morethanpotatoprints Wed 08-May-13 22:46:01

It used to be that a gr5 standard was equal to the O'level, in terms of standard. I think that anything is achievable if you really want it badly enough. If your ds in intent on doing this I would recommend a professional teacher and lots of practice. It can't be too difficult I know a 7 year old currently doing gr6 (obviously passed theory) and her 5 year old brother doing grade 3 both piano.
They only have a half hour lesson a week, but practice for about an hour a day.

jamdonut Thu 09-May-13 17:15:24

stillenacht...Yes I know this about piano. Bit of a problem,I know. Her music teachers are going to try and help her in 6th form when she has free time, one plays the piano awesomely, the other is,by coincidence, primarily a flute player!

I will tell her what you said about being a music teacher, but I think her mind is made up at the moment!

circular Thu 09-May-13 19:32:36

Why do all music teachers try and put the kids off of the job?

My yr11 Dd wants to do a music degree, and hopes to teach music too.

Her instrument teachers try and put her off that, telling her she would be better off being a secondary school or private school music teacher. The secondary school teachers tell her she would be better off tea hung instruments, or primary school with a music spe Kalisz.

As for the piano, noticed that some University courses want grade 5 piano or keyboards. She was also self taught, but started piano lessons in yr9.
Some teachers of other instruments think of piano as being the easiest to pick up as a second or third instrument.

circular Thu 09-May-13 19:34:22

Bloody autocorrect

Tea hung -- teaching
Spe Kalisz -- specialism

gobbin Thu 09-May-13 21:28:38

circular possibly because it's not the job it was, for any subject not just Music.

Pros = still a good status job, pay is just about ok, good career progression if desired, fairly portable around the country, holidays, many pupils/other staff/ parents are good to work with, concerts/shows that go well, good pension, good sick leave/other leave arrangements.

Cons = volume of paperwork in order to justify every single thing you do, other necessary paperwork e.g. reports, little autonomy to go off-piste from the curriculum, poor curriculum support for Music (some of the resources out there are laughable, so you end up creating all your own which takes hours...and hours. Nothing comes 'off the shelf' of any quality), time taken to run extra-curric activities which can sometimes be a joy and a grind at other times, parents who condone their kids missing rehearsals for spurious reasons, parents who moan about paying towards the cost of peri lessons, chasing kids who forget their peri lessons, nagging kids who don't practise for peri lessons/extra curric activities, a minority of hard-work kids in classes can ruin a lesson/day for everyone, everyone thinking they can give an informed opinion of what it's like to be a teacher just because they went to school/have kids...

gobbin Thu 09-May-13 21:31:38

Oh, and in Wales at least, the implementation of the Literacy and Numeracy Framework from next year means that Inspectors will be looking for how you develop these skills in your lesson observations. They won't actually give a stuff whether or not you managed to get your nightmare class to play/sing/compose/appraise/engage with music to a good standard.

stillenacht Thu 09-May-13 21:41:39

add to that lugging around keyboards, music stands, amps, large instruments. Fixing instruments. Sorting out music ICT problems, undoubtedly being in charge of music for assemblies, audio equipment for sports days, prize giving etc...

Schmedz Thu 09-May-13 21:42:16

Circular...I'm a music teacher and I love it so certainly wouldn't try to put your DD off the job. Mind you, I now work as a music specialist in a junior school despite training as a secondary teacher :-) but I also loved secondary.

Also, you don't have to work in the state system if you want to avoid the overload of government 'initiatives'!

stillenacht Thu 09-May-13 21:44:34

I work in a selective state school. I live the music teaching side but its sadly like a sideline to everything else...

morethanpotatoprints Thu 09-May-13 21:44:42

sorry to hijack

Does anybody know how many different boards there are for GCSE and also the main differences between them?
E.g is there one that has a lesser percentage of coursework than others.

stillenacht Thu 09-May-13 21:45:09

love not live

stillenacht Thu 09-May-13 21:46:50

OCR (60% coursework or controlled assessment as it is now) Edexcel the same..not sure about WJEC or AQA

morethanpotatoprints Thu 09-May-13 22:21:18


Oh well, I guess it was worth a try. I am longing to find a GCSE in music that can be taken outside school so performance and exam. I doubt we'll ever find one. thanks.

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