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GCSE Music - what standard required in Y9 to choose it as an option?

(22 Posts)
PixlePixie Wed 10-Dec-14 18:29:10

My DD in Y9 enjoys whole class music lessons and, according to her teacher, is working at 7c level at the beginning of Y9. However, she's only recently taken up her instrument (drum kit!), but tutor is happy with progress. Finances prevented us giving her the opportunity to have individual lessons before.

Please forgive me if I'm asking silly questions but I'm not a musician; is it possible to do GCSE music without being at a high standard in an instrument? Can pupils specialise in music technology as their 'instrument'? Is it possible to start learning a new instrument to become a good enough standard for GCSE exams? Or have we missed the boat already?

The school uses the EdExcel course, if that's relevant (it says 2MU01, if that means anything to anyone?).

Is it something we should be ruling out now and think about other alternatives because she wouldn't get a good grade, or is it worth taking a dent in grades for the love and enjoyment of the subject?

Sorry for rambling and asking daft questions! Thanks in advance! smile

Mabelface Wed 10-Dec-14 18:31:41

It's absolutely an option and she can start learning an instrument now. My DS3 did and is looking at getting a good grade. He also does quite a bit of music tech.

catslife Wed 10-Dec-14 19:10:36

Having a particular playing standard wasn't mentioned at all when dds options were discussed last year. You would need to discuss with the teachers but it can also include singing instead of instrumental playing.
Some schools offer discount or even free instrumental lessons to pupils choosing Music GCSE.

BestIsWest Wed 10-Dec-14 19:19:07

Both mine did music at GCSE and only one could play an instrument. DD sang instead.

Both of them found the composition much harder than the performance.

titchy Wed 10-Dec-14 20:14:23

We were told minimum grade 3 by year 11, maximum marks available for grade 5 standard.

Page 38 specs out the technical performance requirements for a drummer: New GCSE/GCSE_Music_Spec_2012.pdf

eatyourveg Wed 10-Dec-14 21:58:58

Don't forget you can have voice too. At dc's school it was the potential to reach the equivalent of grade V by Y11

Moominmammacat Wed 10-Dec-14 22:18:38

Progress is often fast with drum kit too.

Jellified Wed 10-Dec-14 22:33:11

Ds is doing GCSE music (currently in Y10) and was at a similar level to your dd in y9.
He took up guitar at the start of y9 and recently got a* for a performance controlled assessment so it is definitely possible. He is completely self taught.

PixlePixie Thu 11-Dec-14 09:48:06

I feel reassured that some of your DCs were in a similar position and are doing well. Good luck to them if they're still studying. Thanks for the specs titchy, I'm going to read them today.

Like you, catslife there's nothing written in the booklet about a particular playing standard, only that's it's an advantage to play an instrument, so it left me a little confused about things. But, from what people have written here, the standard required by the end of the course is around grade 3-5.

So it would appear it is possible. That's great news! Knowing that DD hasn't been learning for long is there anything we can do to help her be in the best possible position for next September when the course begins? Thanks again smile

TalkinPeace Thu 11-Dec-14 21:58:02

If she is driven and committed and happy to perform and get involved with choir and orchestra and everything else
she'll be just fine

TooHasty Fri 12-Dec-14 14:25:11

I think for maximum marks you need a grade 5 standard piece.

hufflebottom Fri 12-Dec-14 14:35:23

I took music GCSE. I loved it. Ok I only got a c. But it was fun to do. I was only grade 2 flute at the time and when I'd finished it I'd only got to grade 3.

skylark2 Fri 12-Dec-14 22:02:45

As I understand it, if your performance piece is grade 3 level you lose 20% of your marks for how well you did it. If it's grade 5 level you get an extra 20%.

I'm not sure what happens if it's considered to be below grade 3 (if it's above grade 5 you don't get any extra marks) but I'd think an interested child could easily get to grade 3 on drumkit in 2 years.

Florence37 Sat 13-Dec-14 10:23:11

My DD, year 10, took grade 4 piano in the summer and is now studying grade 5. She will sit the performance part of the exam in May 15 and the rest of the GCSE in year 11. We had parents evening last week and her music teacher said that she should play a grade 4 piece. If she plays the grade 4 piece well she may drop 1 mark (for difficulty), but a grade 5 piece played not so well will drop many more. This performance part makes up 40% of the GCSE and the grade 4 piece is enough for A*.

LooseAtTheSeams Sun 14-Dec-14 08:52:35

Grade 4 drumkit is totally achievable in that time - she needs to practise and listen to music as much as possible. Tip: make sure she has lessons over the summer or find a drum workshop aimed at teenagers. The rudiments are everything, if those are solid, everything else will come together. DS1 is doing grade 4 Rockschool in March and is in year 8. He took grade 1 in year 6 and didn't have any lessons for a year, moved onto tuned percussion but is now doing both. I think it's an instrument where starting later but playing a lot can be a benefit! And you don't need to do every grade.

LooseAtTheSeams Sun 14-Dec-14 08:54:40

Lessons over the long summer hols, that should say! In other words, don't have too long a break in between term time lessons.

NoLongerJustAShopGirl Sun 14-Dec-14 08:56:31

and remember music GCSE is not just about performance.

Ferguson Sun 14-Dec-14 19:06:50

I played drums for forty years, and coached children on percussion for the annual primary school performance when I was a TA.

Listen to as wide a range of music as possible, particularly Classical, and World music. Learning keyboard would be VERY useful, and you can teach yourself from tutor books or even via internet these days, at least to start with.

Music 'tech' and confidence in ICT would be useful.

Our DS did music GCSE and A level, but he had always played from around two years of age.

Try to listen to a range of Classical music, and if you don't like it, try and have good reasons WHY you don't.

On drums, get your reading as good as you can. I played pubs, clubs, big band, some Classical, folk, country-rock, old time music hall, pantomimes, stage shows, barn dance. I liked jazz, but was not good enough at it, and also found Latin American hard.

Be fluent in odd time signatures.

(I'll come back sometime with links to tracks that may be useful.)

Ferguson Mon 15-Dec-14 18:34:05

I don't know if you have seen this - it's a PDF from Edexcel, but it doesn't give much detail, just an overview.

I've copied from PDF, but don't know how to give you the original file. Will send more if I find anything.

Examining Board: Edexcel
Paper Code: 2MU01
The course covers four broad study areas:
 Western Classical Music (1600 - 1899);
 Music in the Twentieth Century;
 Popular Song in Context;
 World Music.
Each of these features three musical texts which are studied during the course.
The skills explored during the course are: Listening, Performing and Composing. The
Listening Paper, taken in the Summer Term of Year 11, focuses on each of the areas of
study with a broad range of questions. The Performance section allows for marks to be
gained from a variety of performance standards up to the level of a top mark in Grade V.
Composition provides the opportunity to explore the techniques covered in the areas of
study. This and the Performance section are assessed as course work.
GCSE Music is suitable both for those who simply want a general background knowledge to
use in later life, and for those intending to go on to A level.

Ferguson Mon 15-Dec-14 19:53:33

I've found more, and edited a bit, but there is too much, so you had better try and find the original for yourself

Issue 2

Edexcel GCSE in Music (2MU01)
Pearson Education Ltd is one of the UK’s largest awarding organisations,
offering academic and vocational qualifications and testing to schools, colleges,
employers and other places of learning, both in the UK and internationally.
Qualifications offered include GCSE, AS and A Level, NVQ and our BTEC suite
of vocational qualifications, ranging from Entry Level to BTEC Higher National
Diplomas. Pearson Education Ltd administers Edexcel GCSE examinations.

This specification is Issue 2. Key changes are sidelined. We will inform centres of
any changes to this issue. The latest issue can be found on the Edexcel website:

References to third-party material made in this specification are made in good
faith. We do not endorse, approve or accept responsibility for the content of
materials, which may be subject to change, or any opinions expressed therein.
(Material may include textbooks, journals, magazines and other publications
and websites.)

Publications Code UG030963

All the material in this publication is copyright
© Pearson Education Limited
The Edexcel GCSE in Music is designed for use in schools and colleges. It is part of a suite of GCSE qualifications offered by Edexcel.

About this specification
This new Edexcel GCSE in Music has been developed after considerable consultation with relevant stakeholders. Prominent among these are music teachers whose views and advice have, where possible, been acted on. The structure of the new qualification is largely unaltered.

The main features are:
■ ■ it continues the philosophy of the current specification in music
■ ■ it is flexible and encourages the use of a diversity of approaches when teaching music
■ ■ it offers a broad range of Areas of Study
■ ■ the Areas of Study now include set works that will remain in place throughout the life of the specification
■ ■ it allows the use of music technology in performance and as a compositional tool
■ ■ it is good preparation for further musical study and provides a foundation for Advanced Subsidiary and Advanced GCE in Music and Music Technology
■ ■ it encourages students to evaluate their own and others’ music
■ ■ it encourages students to become effective and independent learners and critical and reflective thinkers.

Key subject aims
The Edexcel GCSE in Music specification should:
■ ■ encourage students to be inspired, moved and changed by following a broad, coherent, satisfying and worthwhile course of study
■ ■ develop broader life skills and attributes, including critical and creative thinking, aesthetic sensitivity, emotional awareness, cultural understanding, self-discipline, self-confidence and self-motivation
■ ■ enable students to engage actively in the study of music
■ ■ develop musical skills and interests, including the ability to make music individually and in groups
■ ■ enable students to understand and appreciate a range of different kinds of music.
Edexcel GCSE in Music
© Edexcel Limited 2008

Specification at a glance
A Qualification content 6
List of unit contents 7
Unit 1: 8
Performing Music
Detailed unit content
Application of the assessment criteria grids
Unit 2:
Composing Music
Detailed unit content
Application of the assessment criteria grids: Composing 48
Application of the assessment criteria grids: Arranging 53
Unit 3:
Music – Listening and Appraising
Detailed unit content
B Assessment
Assessment summary 63
Assessment Objectives and weightings 64
Relationship of Assessment Objectives to units 64
Entering your students for assessment 64
Student entry 64
Forbidden combinations and classification code 65
Access arrangements and special requirements 65
Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 65
Controlled assessment
Summary of conditions for controlled assessment 66
Internal standardisation 67
Edexcel GCSE in Music
© Edexcel Limited 2008Contents
Further information
Assessing your students
Awarding and reporting 68
Unit results 68
Qualification results 69
Resitting of units 70
Language of assessment 70
Quality of Written Communication 70
Stretch and challenge 71
Malpractice and plagiarism 71
Student recruitment 71
Grade descriptions
C Resources, support and training
Edexcel resources 73
Edexcel publications 73
Endorsed resources 73
Edexcel support services 74
D Appendices
Appendix 1 Key skills 77
Development suggestions 77
Appendix 2 Wider curriculum 78
Appendix 3 Codes 80
Edexcel GCSE in Music
© Edexcel Limited 2008
3Specification at a glance

The Edexcel GCSE in Music comprises three units.
Unit 1:
Performing Music
*Unit code: 5MU01
• • Internally assessed
30% of
the total
• • Availability: June series
• • First assessment: June 2011
Overview of content
• • One solo performance
• • One ensemble performance
Overview of assessment
• • Recordings of both solo and ensemble performances (on CD/MD/MP3)
• • Scores, professional recordings or written commentary (for Realisation) for both performances
Unit 2:
Composing Music
*Unit code: 5MU02
• • Internally assessed
30% of
the total
• • Availability: June series
• • First assessment: June 2011
Overview of content
• • Two compositions, or
• • Two arrangements, or
• • One composition and one arrangement
Overview of assessment
• • Recordings of both compositions/arrangements (on CD/MD/MP3)
• • Notated scores or written commentaries for both compositions/arrangements
*See Appendix 3 for a description of this code and all other codes relevant to this qualification.
Edexcel GCSE in Music
© Edexcel Limited 2008
Specification at a glance
Unit 3:

Music – Listening and Appraising
• • Externally assessed
*Unit code: 5MU03
40% of
the total
• • Availability: June series
• • First assessment: June 2011
Overview of content
• • Knowledge and study of set works in the Areas of Study
Overview of assessment
• • A 1-hour and 30-minute written paper
• • All questions relate to the set works
• • The paper will be in two sections

• • Section A: eight compulsory questions in response to extracts from the set works that will be played on a CD during the examination (68 marks)

• • Section B: one question from two optional questions on the set works, requiring extended writing (12 marks)
• • A total of 80 marks for the paper.
*See Appendix 3 for a description of this code and all other codes relevant to this qualification.
Edexcel GCSE in Music
© Edexcel Limited 2008
5A Qualification content
The specification content is defined by four Areas of Study. Each Area of Study includes three set works that will be the subject of the examination in Unit 3. The compositions in Unit 2 will be defined by the following Areas of Study.

Area of Study 1 Area of Study 2 Area of Study 3 Area of Study 4
Western classical music
1600-1899 Music in the 20th
century Popular music in context World music
G F Handel: Chorus: And The Glory of The Lord from Messiah, HWV 56

A Schoenberg: Peripetie from Five Orchestral Pieces, Op. 16

M Davis: All Blues from the album Kind of Blue

Capercaillie: Chuir M’Athair Mise Dhan Taigh Charraideach (Skye
Waulking Song) from the album Nàdurra

W A Mozart:1st Movement from Symphony No. 40 in Gminor, K. 550

L Bernstein: Something’s Coming from West Side Story

J Buckley: Grace from the album Grace Rag Desh Set works

Suggested listening:
• • A Shankar: Rag Desh
from the album Live at
Carnegie Hall
• • S D Dhandhada
and H Dhandhada:
Rag Desh from the
album Mewar Re Mira
• • B Wertheimer and
S Gorn: Rag Desh
Parts 1-3 from the
album Priyagitah: The
F Chopin: Prelude No 15
in D flat major, Op. 28
Edexcel GCSE in Music
S Reich: 3rd Movement
(fast) from Electric
Moby: Why Does My
Heart Feel So Bad? from
the album Play
Koko: Yiri
© Edexcel Limited 2008
Qualification content A
List of unit contents
Unit 1: Performing Music 8
Unit 2: Composing Music 44
Unit 3: Music – Listening and Appraising 59
Edexcel GCSE in Music
© Edexcel Limited 2008
7 A Qualification content Unit 1
Unit 1: Performing Music
Content overview
In this unit students develop their performing skills in both a solo and
ensemble context. They should be given the opportunity to rehearse
and refine performances in their chosen discipline or genre, developing
technical control, expression and interpretative skills.
This unit will encourage students to develop creative thinking, aesthetic
sensitivity, critical awareness, self-confidence, self-motivation and their
own musical interests and skills, including the ability to make music
individually and in groups.

Ferguson Mon 15-Dec-14 19:54:53

It was too long to post, had to delete loads.

halfthewaytothemoon Sun 21-Dec-14 00:53:27

both mine did GCSE music. Performance is only one element. Advice was you need to be at about grade 2 at being of the course to get to about grade 3/4 by the end. you can only score a maximum of 6 marks for difficult so the difference between playing a grade 3 piece and a grade 8 piece is 3 marks. and percussion is definitely acceptable.
There is composition and a written paper as well. It fact quite a lot of written work.
talk to the school but it is worth a shot.

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