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  • Dave Lowe Music Projects

New GCSE Performance Via Technology Arrangements

The newly reformed Music GCSE for first examination in 2018 presents an increased challenge for students. Formerly students were required to produce 80% of performance and composition coursework with a 20% listening exam at the end. In the 2018 specification, the exam is more complex and its value has been increased to 40%. Additionally there is now a minimum time rerquirement for performance, which has created a dilemma for a wide-demographic of students. If students fail to meet the minimum time required, they will receive zero marks for performance. 

Traditionally, students wanting to study music at the highest university level would have reached ABRSM grade 5 or 6 in their instrument by the end of Year 11. However, nationally a large proportion of music students reach a lower standard by that point. The new criteria has been problematic, but especially so for pianists and brass players. Even at grade 6, brass examination pieces are often about one minute in duration. The new specification requires students to perform a solo and an ensmble piece, together lasting at least 4 minutes.   However the introduction of an excellent 'Performance Via Technology' option has created a fantastic opportunity which should be a consideration for both traditional and technology performance students. The PvT option, though still having the 4-minute minimum time, is assessed differently, requiring the student to listen holistically to the product of performance.  They perform each part of the music into computer software, then editing and shaping every musical aspect to perfect the performance. This requires critical listening and development of values in commercial production, inspiring students to develop a deeper awareness and understanding of music theory in context. This option makes Music GCSE accessible to all, whether they play an instrument or not. The challenge of sourcing appropriate performance music remains, and the '2minutes5' series is designed to offer students accessible scores of inspirational music to use for PvT performance. Each 2minutes5 arrangement is designed to be as faithful to its original as possible. Each arrangement is at least 2 minutes and 5 seconds in duration to ensure the minimum requirement is met. Every part is transcribed, showing a large amount of musical detail. In addition to providing the opportunity for performance, the score will help students of all abilities to access the required understanding of notated music to prepare for the 40% exam. Arrangements of Skyfall by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth and Game of Thrones by Ramin Djawadi are available here now.  

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