What Do You Do In GCSE Music?

What Do You Do In GCSE Music?

Embarking on a GCSE Music course is a thrilling journey into the world of melodies, harmonies, and rhythms. At Cambridge Home School Online (CHS), we offer a vibrant and comprehensive curriculum designed to inspire and nurture the musicians of tomorrow. Our OCR GCSE Music course, tailored exclusively for UK students, is a harmonious blend of skill-building and inspiration, setting the stage for a lifelong engagement with music.

Course Overview

Availability: UK Students Only
Qualification: OCR GCSE Music J536
Duration: 2 Years
Delivery Method: Live Online Classes
Start Date: September to July

The Essence of Our Music Curriculum

Our GCSE Music programme is not just another course; it’s a journey into the heart of music. With an experienced and qualified teacher at the helm, our live online classes offer a dynamic and interactive learning environment. From September to July, over two years, students delve into a curriculum that covers a wide range of musical styles and techniques. This comprehensive approach ensures that by the end of their GCSE journey, students are not only prepared for A-Level Music but also equipped with the confidence and understanding to appreciate and create music at a profound level.

Homework, Assessment, and Reporting: A Structured Approach

At CHS, we believe in a balanced approach to homework and assessments, ensuring students have ample opportunity to consolidate their learning and demonstrate their progress.

Level Homework Frequency Assessment Times Report Issuance
Level 3 Fortnightly June Autumn & Summer Terms
Level 4 Weekly November & March Following Mock Assessments

Our comprehensive reporting system, which includes detailed feedback from Success Coaches and the Head Teacher, ensures that parents are always in the loop about their child’s progress. The use of family Teams accounts further enhances this communication, providing a more in-depth insight into the student’s development than an annual consultation evening could offer.

Diving into the Course Outline

The OCR GCSE Music course at Cambridge Home School Online is meticulously designed to cover all facets of music education, ensuring students gain a holistic understanding of music as both an art form and a discipline. The course is structured around three core components, each contributing significantly to the development of students’ musical skills and appreciation.

Integrated Portfolio (30% of Total Mark)

The Integrated Portfolio is a personalised component that allows students to showcase their individual talents and preferences in music. This segment is divided into two parts:

  1. Solo Performance: Each student is required to perform a piece on their chosen instrument or with their voice. This performance is an opportunity for students to express their musicality and technical proficiency in an instrument they are passionate about. The choice of piece can vary widely, accommodating a range of musical tastes and styles, from classical to contemporary.
  2. Composition to a Learner-Set Brief: The second part of the portfolio involves composing a piece of music. This task encourages creativity and originality, allowing students to explore their compositional voice. The brief for this composition is set by the student, providing a unique opportunity to delve into an area of music that particularly interests them, whether it be a specific genre, theme, or technical challenge.

Practical Component (30% of Total Mark)

The Practical Component focuses on collaborative music-making and further composition skills, comprising:

  1. Ensemble Performance: Music is often a collaborative effort, and this element of the course emphasises the importance of ensemble work. Students will participate in a group performance, learning valuable skills in teamwork, communication, and the nuances of playing in harmony with others. This component not only enhances technical abilities but also fosters a sense of community and shared musical endeavour.
  2. Composition to a Board-Set Brief: Complementing the learner-set composition, this part of the course challenges students to create a piece based on criteria set by the examination board. This task tests students’ ability to work within specific guidelines while still infusing their work with individual creativity and expression.

Listening Exam (40% of Total Mark)

The Listening Exam is designed to assess students’ analytical and critical listening skills, a fundamental aspect of music education. This component includes:

  1. Listening and Appraisal: Students will listen to a variety of musical pieces and be asked to analyse and evaluate them. This exercise covers four areas of study, exposing students to a wide range of musical genres and traditions. The aim is to develop an informed appreciation of music, understanding its context, construction, and effect.
  2. Notation Skills: A crucial part of the listening exam, this section tests students’ ability to read and interpret musical notation. This skill is essential for any musician, providing the language through which musical ideas are communicated and understood.

Technical Requirements for Success

To fully engage with our GCSE Music course, students will need:

  • A reliable broadband connection
  • Their main instrument or voice
  • A means of recording performances and compositions, which can range from simple smartphone recordings to more sophisticated setups with microphones or music software.

Accreditation and Support

Our course is accredited by Oxford Cambridge and RSA Examinations (OCR), ensuring that our curriculum meets the highest standards of educational excellence. With two live weekly 1-hour lessons, personalised feedback, and comprehensive exam preparation, our students are well-equipped to achieve their musical aspirations.

Navigating Examinations

While CHS provides robust support and preparation for examinations, it is the responsibility of parents to arrange for their child’s exams at a local registered examination centre. Our global student base means that we cannot offer a single venue for exams, but our partnerships with various examination centres ensure that we can assist in locating a suitable venue for all written and practical assessments.

Conclusion: The Harmony of Learning at CHS

Choosing to study GCSE Music at Cambridge Home School Online is more than just an educational decision; it’s a step into a world where passion for music meets academic rigour. Our course is designed to not only prepare students for further musical education but to instil in them a lifelong love and appreciation for music. With our experienced teachers, comprehensive curriculum, and supportive community, students are poised to explore the vast landscape of music and carve their own unique paths in the world of melody and harmony.

In embarking on this musical journey with CHS, students are not just learning notes and compositions; they are becoming part of a global community of musicians and scholars, ready to make their mark on the world’s stage. Whether aiming for the conservatoires, universities, or the broader music industry, our GCSE Music course is the perfect starting note for a promising and fulfilling musical career.


What does the GCSE Music course entail?

GCSE Music is an engaging programme that immerses students in the study of various musical styles and techniques. It’s structured to not only enhance students’ performance and compositional skills but also to deepen their appreciation and understanding of music. This preparation sets a solid foundation for further musical studies, such as A-Level Music.

How is the GCSE Music course assessed?

The course is assessed through an integrated portfolio, practical components, and a listening exam. The integrated portfolio includes a solo performance and a composition set by the student. The practical component involves ensemble performance and a composition to a board-set brief. The listening exam tests students on their analytical and appraisal skills across different music genres and their notation skills.

What are the technical requirements for the GCSE Music course?

Students will need a reliable broadband connection, their main instrument or voice, and a means of recording both performances and compositions. The recordings can be done using simple devices like smartphones or tablets, but better quality can be achieved with dedicated microphones or music software.

How does the GCSE Music course support students’ progression in music?

The course is designed to build confidence, skills, and a thorough understanding of music. By covering a broad spectrum of musical styles and techniques, it prepares students for advanced studies in music, paving the way for A-Level Music and beyond. The course’s structure encourages both individual expression and collaborative music-making, essential skills for any musician.

Where can students take their GCSE Music examinations?

While Cambridge Home School Online provides comprehensive support and exam preparation, it’s up to the parents to arrange their child’s exams at a local registered examination centre. CHS’s global student body means exams cannot be centralised, but the school assists in finding suitable venues for all necessary written and practical assessments.