The Edexcel specification is followed and the qualification will be attained through Faregos Home Education Exam Centre. Currently lessons are delivered by Skype or face-to-face. It is usual to have at least an hour Skype lesson a week (currently £36 per hour) and this tuition would cover components 2 (composition start-up) and 3 (listening exam).
The music tutor is Debbie Adamson. She has a Master’s Degree in Music, Postgraduate Certificate in Education (Qualified Teacher Status), an Honours Degree in Music and other performing and teaching diplomas. She is an Edexcel GCSE music examiner as well as an ABRSM music examiner (theory). She is the approved music tutor and assessor of Non-Examined-Assessment components for Faregos Home Education Exam Centre. Debbie has held Director of Music positions in both state and private schools. Her A level lessons were graded ‘outstanding’ by OFSTED (2016). In addition to this she has her own private teaching business where she teaches piano, classical guitar, music theory and provides GCSE and A level music support.
1 or 2 years?
Able musicians (approximately Grade 5 upwards) may wish to take GCSE music privately in one year (starting in June). Good pre-existing music skills are required alongside a commitment to completing coursework and tasks set to help prepare for a written examination. Musicians of approximately Grade 3 standard may wish to take GCSE music privately over two years. This will allow students to work on basic music theory, composition techniques and gain a slightly higher level of performance (i.e. standard level of difficulty for GCSE music is grade 4). A commitment to completing coursework and tasks set to help prepare for a written examination is required.
GCSE music involves non-examined assessments (NEA) which need to be under-taken under controlled conditions. These assessments are taken in the year of entry.
Students will be required to attend a recording session where both the solo and ensemble performances (solo and ensemble) will be recorded live. This is so the teacher can authenticate that the student performing their pieces is the correct student. The performances are captured on a CD/MP3, marked by the tutor and then sent to the examining board for external moderation. This is not a public performance or an exam. The tutor will provide guidance and communicate directly with instrumental and vocal teachers regarding the exact requirements and marking criteria to be followed.
The exam board specifies students must complete a minimum of five hours composition development, including the final write up and recording, in the centre under teacher supervision. Therefore once the composition is underway, students will be required to attend two composition workshops. Each workshop will last 2.5 hours. In addition students will submit to the tutor their work in progress to deadlines. This is so the preparatory work can be monitored and authenticated.
It would be very helpful to have Sibelius music software. They have a free version and also have other options for monthly subscriptions if you want a more advanced version (http://www.avid.com/sibelius). The time spent on this coursework at home is unlimited.
The Appraising Exam
The written exam will be sat at Faregos Home Education Centre, Titchfield, Hampshire. (Provisional date for 2020 is Tuesday 2nd June 2020)
The Edexcel specification includes four Areas of Study, each containing two Set Works. The focus is very much on musical elements (i.e. DR SMITH - Dynamics …Rhythm, Metre and Tempo…Structure…Melody…Instrumentation…Texture…Harmony and Tonality) alongside context and musical language (i.e. terminology). The paper consists of short answer questions (52 marks), music dictation (6 marks), unfamiliar listening related to set works (10 marks) and an extended response (12 marks).
It is not necessary to purchase any books or recordings as comprehensive study guides are included in the cost of the Skype lessons. Sample listening papers will eventually be required.