Celestial Weasel (celestialweasel) wrote,
Celestial Weasel

Staff Room (ha ha)

With the usual caveat that this is The Times (was just the first thing that came up), on the subject of people being able to get a GCSE in Music without being able to read yer squiggles on 5 horizontal lines - http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/article4481222.ece.
In pursuit of trying to find out the truth I read the AQA syllabus but unfortunately it is not what I would call clear http://www.aqa.org.uk/qual/pdf/AQA-3271-W-SP-10.PDF, however if you look at the example paper for the one exam you seem to have to sit, it certainly seems to have quite a lot of conventional music (or would do if they weren't still trying to get copyright clearance for it). http://www.aqa.org.uk/qual/newgcse/pdf/AQA-MUS-SQP-11.PDF
I am now more sceptical than I was about the alleged decline in standards, whilst very different from my O Level music I am not convinced that it looks easier per se, and certainly looks quite a bit more interesting. One thing you can point to is that the specification says you have to perform at Grade 4 standard, in my day you got out of one of the 3 written papers by using your Grade 5 score. In practice, in my boys' Grammar school, only 2 in my O Level music class didn't turn in a Grade 5 score in lieu of the 'write down what we have just played' paper, which was generally viewed as the harder of the 2 you could get out of.

I am also slightly nonplussed with letters like this (from the Times)
My son is predicted an A* this summer for music GCSE. He has studied music for 5 years, plays in orchestras and ensembles at county level and yet cannot read a note. He is a percussionist, able to read rhythms but not pitch and doomed never to get a tuned percussion part! My question has always been: “What are schools teaching in the three-year run up to the start of GCSE?” Who decided notation was surplus to requirements for a musician?

My son will not be doing A-level music because he is not skilled enough. He will do A level music technology where notation is once again superfluous.

Surely anyone capable of writing a whinging letter to the Times is capable of finding a book / website explaining musical notation for the dear child?

Having said all this, I find the idea of not teaching music notation at some point in a GCSE course rather perverse.

(edited to correct links)

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