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OCR’s GCSE Music specification

ocr gcse music draft specification - teacher and musician

This is the second in a series of posts outlining my initial reaction to each of the draft specifications for GCSE Music published by the exam boards in May 2015.  You can see the first post (discussing AQA’s specification) by clicking here and the whole series will be available here as each post is published.


Anyone who suggests that performing, composing and appraising can be learnt in an integrated manner will get a general nod of approval from me.  The fifth page of the specification says this very clearly and that can only be a good thing.  The unit structure, particularly the integrated portfolio, also appears to be designed with this in mind but isn’t so rigid as to take away teachers’ flexibility to adapt the course to the needs of individual pupils.  

Areas of Study

I’ve never taught OCR for music but I’ve always quite liked their willingness to be different.  While some of the areas of study are quite standard, the retention of the ‘My Music’ area of study is nice.  At GCSE, our subject can be quite removed from the experience of learning an instrument, so it’s cool that pupils are encouraged to explore the capabilities of their own instrument.  This will, hopefully, give learners a sense of their own musical identity.  
I also quite like the focus provided by the second area of study looking at ‘the concerto through time’.  Ofqual’s requirement that one area of study be drawn from western classical music from 1650 to 1910 raised a few eyebrows at the time but focusing this on a specific genre and tracking its evolution seems quite elegant.  It also helps to provides structure to the course in a manner distinct from the boards offering set works.  Lending structure in a similar vein, the world music AoS focuses on rhythm, granting learners a crutch for exploring music that may be quite unfamiliar to them.  

Turntablism – again

It’s in here!  All the more reason why I’m struggling to get my head around AQA’s shouting about this in their press releases – not only is it not new but it’s not unique either.  Again, please let me know if I’m missing something on this one!  

Continuing the discussion

There’s plenty more that’s worthy of discussion in this specification, so I’m looking forward to MufuChat tonight (Wednesday 20th May 2015 at 8.30pm), which is intended to promote discussion in detail.