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The OCR GCSE Music qualification provides a contemporary, accessible, and creative education in music with an integrated approach to the three main elements – performing, composing, and appraising. The OCR GCSE Music qualification is designed to appeal to, and cater for a wide range of interests, instruments, personalities and directions. The new specification offers a range of opportunities to study diverse and traditional fields, and encourages learners to experiment in their own performing, composing and listening as well as develop interest in and enthusiasm for all aspects of their musical heritage.
The OCR GCSE Music syllabus enables pupils to progress on to A Level Music and/or develop their skills as a performer or composer.
Patrick Gazard: BA Hons, PGCE, LLCM, DipABRSM is a freelance musician and teacher who has been closely involved with music education for over 25 years. He is a former secondary school music teacher, including 12 years as Head of Music in a Performing Arts Specialist school, and has also been the Secondary Curriculum Excellence Advisor for Buckinghamshire. Patrick is a pianist, singer and percussionist, and is currently the Operational Lead for High Wycombe Music Centre, where he directs three groups: Senior Big Band, Junior Orchestra and Stage Voices. He has taught GCSE and A level music for many years and across a number of different boards both in schools and as a private tutor. He prides himself on his eclectic approach to music, being equally happy in Bach or Bacharach: his specialisms are jazz and musical theatre.
Patrick is an award-winning music education author having written three books, the most recent of which is ‘Being a Head of Music: a Survival Guide’ which was nominated for ‘Best Music Education Product’ at the Music Teacher Magazine Awards 2018. He is also a professional composer and
arranger, currently working for Glee Club UK as a vocal and track arranger.
Patrick is based in High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire and is married with two teenage children.
- Entry Requirements: 10 years or over, No previous music qualifications are required and enthusiastic beginners are welcome but any student not currently having regular lessons must agree to learning to play an instrument or sing in addition to the live lessons as musical performance is a key part of the course (30%). There are opportunities to do this online through the school and can be arranged: please contact the school for details.
- Duration: 2 years typically but can be extended for additional annual fee: available all year around – enrolling now. One year Intensive course available to capable musicians who have studied GCSE music or similar course before.
- Requirements: broadband connection / Instrument or other means of performance (sequencer, decks, etc.). Means of recording performances (the recording function on smart phones/tablets should suffice but a microphone or recording device would be even better). Means of recording composition e.g. manuscript paper, music software (notation software / DAW / sequencer, etc.), audio recording accompanied by written account
- Progression: to A Level Music
- Accreditation: Oxford Cambridge and RSA Examinations (OCR).
- Tuition: Face to face, one to one – unlimited
How It Works
Students receive access to their own online studio where they can work through their course. Units and assignments are listed along with supporting resources, video tutorials for skills development, step by step guides etc. Audio, video and Word files of students’ completed work are uploaded to their college e portfolio for assessment and constructive, friendly written feedback on how to progress. Additionally students are invited to attend optional LIVE interactive online lessons at timetabled times. If students can’t make the lessons they can watch them in their own time so they won’t miss any of the course content. The fully qualified and experienced school music teacher is available for feedback via email and messager. Students are invited to discuss their progress and receive face to face verbal feedback, encouragement and support. Students may also benefit from relationships with their fellow online students as they can view profiles and comment on each others’ art work if they wish.
Homework will be given each lesson, and will usually consist of music analysis, composition, and performance practice.
Teacher assessments are continuous during LIVE TAUGHT lessons, monitoring and marking of non-exam assessments, and summative tests.
Parents have 24/7 access to all of their children’s coursework.
Additionally, the school holds 3 parent consultations per year – one each term.
Structure Of The Course
The course will follow the current OCR GCSE specification.
The course will be based on the textbook recommended for the OCR GCSE.
This specification is well-regarded among colleges and universities due to its integrated structure allowing learners to grasp the interconnection of all aspects of Music practice and appreciation, and thereby giving a firm basis from which to springboard into A-level and beyond.
Two compositions are required – one of the candidate's own choice and another to a brief released by the exam board on September 1st of the year the candidate is to take their assessment. Compositions need to be submitted as a recording accompanied by a score, lead sheet, or written
account. This recording can be done live (carried out by the student and accompanied by other musicians if necessary, who do not need to be following the course) or electronically produced (for which there is plenty of free or cheap software available).
Performances must total a minimum of 4 minutes including at least 1 minute of ensemble work. Ideally, students study these pieces with their instrumental teachers with guidance by their GCSE music teacher on piece selection. For those students without teachers, we are able and happy to
provide instruction on performance throughout the course, including regular assessments. All students need to be aware that they will be responsible for finding someone else to perform alongside for the ensemble aspect of the course. This should not be a major issue as instrumental
teachers often have other students who could participate in a duo/ trio or the teachers themselves can perform with the candidates (the other performers in the ensemble need not be GCSE candidates). Alternatively, candidates could find people to perform with through their local music
centre or even through advertising online.
To ensure all the submitted exam performances are the candidates’ own, the teacher will observe over Skype whilst they are recording their performance. Listening and Appraising
Within classes, students will learn how to aurally analyse each of the musical elements and compositional devices listed within the specification. To help expand the number of pieces studied, students would then apply such analysis to different pieces within the same Area of Study. Allowing
for peer review, the teacher may ask students to mark each other's work, which would also ensure they are encountering a greater number of pieces.
Homework will be given most lessons, and much of it will be further listening in addition to musical analysis, composition, and performance practice.
Teacher assessments are continuous during the live taught lessons, monitoring and marking of non-exam assessments, and summative tests. Both performance and composition are non-examined assessments. (The teacher has confirmed with OCR that it is acceptable for him to carry out these assessments and sign the authentication forms). The listening and appraising component is externally assessed at the end of the course and thus will need to take place at a centre.
GCSE Music is split into three components:
1- Integrated Portfolio (30% of the mark) including:
- Performance on the learner’s chosen instrument.
- Composition to a brief set by the learner.
2- Practical Component (30% of the mark) including:
- Ensemble performance.
- Composition to a board-set brief.
3- Listening Exam (40% of the mark) testing:
- Listening and appraisal skills related to four areas of study.
- Notation skills.
NOTE: It is the responsibility of the parent/guardian to arrange their examinations. It is possible to sit Music examinations at centres in London and perhaps at your local school or college. We recommend that you check with your intended examination centre before electing to study Music online.
Download Syllabus – Here
Guinane, David, Hanh Doan, and Steven Berryman. OCR GCSE Music Study Guide. Rhinegold Education, 2016.
£699 GBP / $939 USD – Monthly payment plan available. It is possible for motivated pupils who are supported at home (submit assignments on time and take teacher’s advice) for pupils to pass the course in one year.