The department has chosen to run the EdExcel GCSE specification. This syllabus is based around the study of four broad areas:
- Repetition and Contrast in Western Classical Music
- New Directions in Western Classical Music
- Popular Song in Context
- Rhythms, Scales and Modes from Around the World
Within each broad area are three set music works that allow the student to access a greater level of musical understanding of the given genre.
These set works form the basis for the candidate’s work in all three examined skills: listening, performance and compositions.
As candidates study a set work, they become aware of music in that style and become familiar with the relevant technical devices involved. This familiarity is then tested in a listening exam, at the end of the course, where they are required to listen to a number of extracts and respond to questions about them, using appropriate technical terminology. The exam lasts about one and a half hours and counts for 40% of the G.C.S.E.
Candidates are required to produce two compositions during the course that are encouraged, but not required, to be related directly to one of the set works. Both of these are written to a brief, which will be drawn from the 16 topics. Each composition counts for 15% of the G.C.S.E.
Candidates will give two performances. One is a solo performance given at the end of the course and the other is an ensemble to be recorded at any time during the course, as and when candidates feel ready, and can be re-recorded as many times as necessary. Performance accounts for 30% of the G.C.S.E. overall.