Music Key Stage 4 - St Peter's Church of England Aided School Exeter, Devon, UK

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We follow the OCR specification at GCSE and take a comprehensive approach to students taking Music as an exam option, provided that they are aware of what is expected of them in terms of playing, composing and participating.  Lessons are a good balance between practical, listening, theory and discussion.  While it is not an entry requirement, it is helpful for students to be taking lessons in a musical instrument to support the performance elements of the course that are worth 30% of the total.  Composing is worth 30% of the overall grade; and there is a listening exam worth 40% of the total.

Year 9

Students have a good deal of time to explore the capabilities of their voice/instrument, as well as working towards a variety of performance opportunities.  Performances are conducted both as soloists and as part of a group and while there is no requirement to perform beyond the classroom this is encouraged in order to gain experience and build confidence.

Year 9 students explore compositional ideas using both their instrument and where possible ICT in order to develop their ideas.  Areas of Study relating to the GCSE listening exam are also introduced:

  • AoS5, Conventions of Pop
  • AoS4, Film and Video Game Music

Each area of study is explored through a range of practical, group, listening and written exercises.  This also provides students with another opportunity to further develop their performance and composition skills, as many of the skills required to be a musician are integrated!

Year 10

Students continue to develop their performance and composition skills in relation to Area of Study 1 – My Music and the opportunities to perform continue to be available for students to make the most of at St Peter’s.

In addition to this remaining two areas of study are covered via a range of practical and listening activities:

  • AoS3, Rhythms of the world
  • AoS2, The Concerto through time

Listening activities become more focused towards the end of year 11 listening exam and students are introduced to an online ‘listening’ portal Focus on Sound to develop their levels of musical literacy and develop revision techniques.

In terms of composition, students continue to explore a range of compositional techniques related to their instrument and the musical styles covered in the areas of study.  It is expected by this stage that students will be able to compose a more substantial piece, not just as part of a group, but working individually in certain cases and using ICT.

Year 11

The workload continues steadily but quite intensively into Year 11.  Practice continues for performances and the department is open after school every day for students to work on composing and performance work.

By the end of the spring term all controlled assessment will have been completed (60%) and much of the timetabled lesson time will be devoted revising the topics covered in years 9 and 10.  The listening exam (40%) usually takes place around the end of May/early June.

Useful Links

OCR GCSE Music Revision Guide: Alan Charlton – ISBN: 978-1-907447-20-4

OCR GCSE Music Study Guide: Rudland, Galley & Marshall – ISBN: 978-1-906178-77-2