The new GCSE specification is designed to inspire the next generation of students in forming personal and meaningful relationships with music through the development of musical knowledge, understanding and skills. Students will be encouraged to engage critically and creatively with a wide range of music, develop an understanding of the place of music in different cultures and contexts, and reflect on how music is used in the expression of personal and collective identities.

Key facts

The three key components of performing, composing and appraising have been retained:

  • Performing is worth 30% and students have to perform at least two pieces, one of which must be part of an ensemble, and the minimum time for both pieces must be at least 4 minutes.
  • Composing is worth 30% and students need to compose at least two pieces, one must be in response to a brief set by the awarding organisation and one must be a piece of free composition, the minimum time for both pieces must be at least 3 minutes.
  • Appraising is worth 40% and content has been given in terms of musical elements, musical contexts and musical language. Students must study at least four Areas of Study, one based in Western Classical Music (WCM) composed between 1650 and 1910, and one that is not based in WCM. There is a requirement for students to read and write staff notation and respond to unfamiliar music in the exam.

Careers for which this qualification is useful: A GCSE in Music can act as a stepping-stone to ‘A’ levels, BTEC courses, BA, BSc & BMus Degrees. Many of our ex-students in recent years are now studying for degrees in music related courses and hope to go onto careers in Sound Engineering, Composing, Music Production, Performance and more general roles within broadcasting & music industries.

Music Technology

Music technology skills are used by a wide range of employers, and there is even the opportunity to specialise according to music type and whether it’s for entertainment, commercial or medical/ therapeutic purposes. Many employers offer fixed term contracts - for a series of concert performances for example. Others offer more permanent contracts especially for the backstage, technical or management staff of a venue or destination. Other organisations that employ people with music technology skills include theme parks, themed tours, heritage locations and tourist venues. This sector has lots of travel opportunities, from working with touring groups to contracts with cruise lines and/or hotel chains.

Performing is not the only way to get into music; the role of technology is central to most performances and a wide variety of jobs exist in related fields, including the vital contribution of technicians. Musicians and music technicians are often required to ‘multi-task’ and need to understand different aspects of a performance, a recording or an event.

With one of the best equipped Music departments to be found anywhere in the state education system students are ideally placed to leave for further education and training with a considerable advantage over their peers. Our department including a newly upgraded studio is equipped with 52 brand new Apple iMac computers with leading music software including the industry standard Logic Pro X. As such, many of our recent ex-students are now studying Music Technology at University or are actively pursuing a career in this side of the industry.