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As the lead for developing the new Music GCSE, I’ve worked with teachers from up and down the country and a large team of developers to create a qualification which keeps music musical, for all kinds of musicians.
The vision for OCR Music GCSE is to be as practical and flexible as possible offering an integrated qualification that provides clear progression opportunities to other Music qualifications including Music AS and A Levels. I personally believe music lessons should be noisy with music making and as teachers we shouldn’t be afraid to teach this way! Accessibility was always at the heart of the new Music GCSE and during its development we worked hard to ensure there are clear and accessible options for all instrument players, whether classical or contemporary, including music technologists, DJs and MCs.
We designed our new accredited GCSE specification to cater for all abilities and tastes, and to provide courses that are easily tailored to all students. I know from experience and talking to lots of teachers and Heads of Departments that GCSE classes can contain a range of ability levels and a diverse range of interests. I really wanted to ensure that the OCR specification encourages teachers (and students) to design their own programme of study which can be differentiated to all the needs of the learners.
The requirements for GCSE Music are: 60% Non-Examined Assessment – divided equally between performance and composing, and a 40% examined component. There are minimum duration requirements for performance and composition.
In the interests of differentiation and accessibility, OCR have said that students can present multiple short pieces if they need to for their performances and have a choice of briefs for the compositions.
The OCR Music GCSE (9-1) has three components:
Our re-vamped areas of study are designed to encourage musical and practical teaching and enable integrated approaches to teaching and learning. The essence is that students will take a genre - listen to it, play it, compose like it, talk about it - then understand, recognise and describe/evaluate the genre. Perform, compose, appraise – together and not always in that order! Using the Areas of Study to support a practical approach to learning is also great preparation for the examined component of the qualification.
Our listening exam is not based on set works. This is an approach our current GCSE takes which has received hugely positive feedback from both students and teachers. Having Areas of Study and not set works enables flexibility and encourages teachers to choose diverse and interesting music that will engage students. The fingerprints or characteristics of each Area of Study are clearly laid out in the specification – exam questions will stick to exploring the students’ knowledge and understanding of those characteristics – this approach is not designed to catch you or your students out!
OCR offers a range of free resources to support the teaching of the new OCR Music GCSE (9-1) that can be downloaded from the Music web page. These include Topic Exploration Packs that will be created to support your planning and teaching for each Area of Study. These will include scores, activities, questions, and suggested listening and will be released in time for first teaching in 2016. Areas of Study 3 and 4 are already online for downloading.
Any questions? Want to talk to us? If you need specialist advice, guidance or support, get in touch:
Marie Bessant - Subject Specialist - Music
Marie joined OCR in July 2014 as a Music Subject Specialist after teaching Music for 10 years. With experience as Head of Department at secondary schools and FE colleges Marie has taught GCSE, A Level, BTEC and HND. As OCR’s Music specialist Marie is leading the development for the new Music GCSEs and A Levels as well as looking after resources, CPD and support for the current Music qualifications. Alongside this Marie is an organist and pianist with a love for rock music.