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Developing Outstanding Compositions in GCSE Music

Course Code:


This composition course is a practical course from which teachers can take away a range of effective approaches to composition to support students of all abilities, including ways to support the weaker GCSE composition student and challenging the more able students. The course will also examine recent feedback on GCSE compositions, assessment criteria and consider how best to enthuse and motivate students to develop a love for composing.


  • Develop your teaching to raise standards in composition
  • Deepen your understanding of assessment criteria to inform your teaching
  • Learn a range of effective approaches to generate and develop musical ideas
  • Take away techniques which work across the full student composing range of ability


Beginning at the End – Summarised feedback, common issues raised by examiners

10.00 – 10.30am
  • Comparison of marking criteria across the exam boards for GCSE
  • What students ultimately have to demonstrate to an examiner at GCSE
  • Summarised feedback from all of the exam boards
  • Common issues raised by examiners
  • Immediate priorities

Getting Started: generating differentiated ideas, activities, creating motifs

10.30 – 11.15am
  • Generating visibly differentiated ideas, activities, resources, materials which work across the ability range, from non–readers to highly able pupils
  • Different ways to create motifs, composing freely without effort: what to do with your initial ideas
  • Building in creative, imaginative, musical, approaches in your teaching
  • Using external stimuli for inspiration
  • Using existing works as starting points for composing
  • Examples drawn from a broad range of musical styles



11.15 – 11.30am

Responding to a Brief

11.30 – 12.30pm
  • Exploring how to achieve real musical development
  • Considering different forms imaginatively: ground bass/variations/ternary form
  • How to teach for genuine melodic and rhythmic growth rather than just layering of musical lines and instruments
  • How to write idiomatically
  • Using existing pieces to arrange and stimulate ideas
  • Relating the brief to its intended audience
  • Adding the extra bit of ‘magic’ to make the composition stand out



12.30 – 1.30pm

Setting Words to Music

1.30 – 2.30pm
  • Understanding how words work with music
  • Ideas for creating texts to set
  • Examining different song form structures eg strophic, verse and chorus
  • Creating imaginative melodies, with strong shape and direction
  • Developing songs that are imaginative and ambitious; exploiting the voice
  • Bringing it all together to create a strong sense of style and coherence
  • Different examples used which can work in the context of a classroom lesson


Afternoon Tea

2.30 – 2.35pm

Stage and Screen: Composing Film Music at GCSE

2.35 – 3.05pm
  • Putting film music into context: a background and useful clips to enthuse your students
  • Exploring how to create atmospheres, moods and characters
  • Considering textural variety and tension
  • Relating other areas of composition to work in the context of film

Putting it all together: The Refining Process

3.05 – 3.40pm
  • Refining the process into a polished piece
  • Making a composition outstanding at GCSE
  • Marking and giving good feedback on compositions; writing to a brief
  • How to give effective feedback on candidates’ work
  • Range of examples and chance to mark and discuss work; assessing accurately


London | Tuesday 19 March 2024
London | Tuesday 04 June 2024
London | Tuesday 19 March 2024
London | Tuesday 04 June 2024

This course, tailored to suit, can be delivered in your school. Discuss this further with our CPD team on 01625 532974 or click below to make an enquiry.


Jane Werry has been teaching for 30 years, and since 1999 has been Director of Music at Hayes School in Bromley. She is co-author of the award-winning Being a Head of Music: A Survival Guide, and is a frequent contributor to Music Teacher Magazine’s online resources. Jane is also a Specialist Leader in Education and a Musical Futures Champion Teacher. She has been a senior moderator for A level harmony and composition, and an examiner for the GCSE listening paper.


  • Heads of Music
  • Teachers of GCSE Music


  • A Specially prepared notes, practical advice and guidance by the course leader
  • Notes prepared by the educational experts leading the course
  • Expert produced PowerPoint presentations
  • CPD Certificate of attendance

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