Read this when you start GCSE Music

This blog is aimed at students and I hope that you will read this when you start GCSE Music

Firstly, well done for choosing to study music at Key Stage 4. There are of course different pathways, but I thought I would start with GCSE Music. It is a great course and you are going to love studying music in greater depth. There are various exam boards, and this blog won’t be focussing on any one board specifically. Instead I wanted to offer some thoughts & advice as you head into your two year GCSE.

Why is it a good choice?

Music is obviously the best subject in the world, but I do believe it is a good choice for you. This mainly comes down to that fact that you have chosen it and therefore must have an interest, passion or talent in the subject. But music is also a good choice because it will give you space to be creativity, analytical, evaluative, collaborative and independent. You will learn new skills, build on old ones and develop as a performer. You will have the chance to study new music, create new sounds and expand your instrumental or vocal abilities. All this makes for an exciting course.

Advice for Music GCSE Students

Here are some of the things that I tell my students every year. I believe that success in music comes down to embracing music in all its fullness. I hope that some of these ideas are useful and I know that your music teacher will also be saying the same thing!

  1. Listen to as much music as you can. Have a thirst & passion for new music. Seek out new sounds, bands, performances and pieces. Listen to music deliberately, taking in all the instruments, elements and emotions.
  2. Play our instrument or sing every day. But don’t always worry about for how long, just make sure you do it! And if you do squeeze in a longer session, then make sure it is varied so that you don’t get bored!
  3. Get involved in the wider life of your music department. There will be so much on offer and your music teacher will be working hard to give you opportunities. Take them, and support your teacher as much as you can. Be on time, enthusiastic and encouraging to others around you.
  4. Perform in concerts as they will help you prepare for your GCSE Performance.
  5. If possible, go and see some live music. It might be that you get to go on a school trip, but they may or may not be possible. But you can seek out performances for yourself at local venues!
  6. Organise study groups with your mates in the class. Collaboration is great for music and you can combine playing music together with studying the set works.
  7. Don’t worry or panic about “Theory”. I don’t like that word as it can be really negative for so many. Other subjects don’t worry or discuss theory in the same way, so you don’t need to in music.
  8. Compose outside of lessons so that you develop your skills. This won’t need to be the piece you are creating in class, just something of your own. The more you can make music the better. You will find your own sound and develop your skills as a composer.
  9. Offer to support younger students & classes. Be an encouragement to Key Stage 3 musicians who are thinking of taking music in Year 10. Be an ambassador and advocate for music education, sharing why you love it so much.
  10. Use the technology you have to make you a better musician and all round student. YouTube is great for watching music and your phone is a tool for you to record yourself playing. You can compose on your laptop or iPad and you will most likely have a guitar tuner on your phone. Enjoy the fact that in this modern world there is so much technology that can help you on your GCSE journey. MusicTheory.net & Teoria.com are both great websites.

Read this when you start GCSE Music

Hopefully you have taken my advice and read this blog at the start of your Music GCSE. Please do make sure that above all else, you listen to, and work with, your music teacher. As a music teacher myself I know how much I value committed students who take on board my advice and guidance. I hope that you can do the same!

Studying music at GCSE is brilliant and I wish you all the best for the course. I have several blogs about composition, set works and general advice. I am sure that there are also lots of other great resource out there. But your teacher will provide you with all you need, so listen to them. And make sure that you take every opportunity you can to explore, perform, compose and listen to music.

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