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Edexcel GCSE Music: Dropping Back onto Grade 9

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This new course for 2023 is designed for anyone wanting to overhaul their Edexcel GCSE Music curriculum or for anyone teaching Edexcel GCSE Music for the first time. The day starts with looking at general considerations for shaping both curriculum design and teaching approaches, including discussing ways to level-up varying abilities of students at the start of the course. Ways of achieving an integrated, holistic, outstanding and inspiring teaching approach to the course will then be discussed, before each component of the specification is examined in turn. The assessment objectives, marking grids, examiner reports and common errors for each component will then form a framework within which to shape approaches to helping students at both ends of the ability range to achieve the highest marks. Proven strategies for developing students’ skills will be included at each stage, along with the latest thinking around curriculum design, teaching approaches, and monitoring and feedback processes.


  • A thorough day of CPD on all things Edexcel GCSE Music.
  • Expert guidance from one of the UK’s leading educationalists who wrote the analysis for the Defying Gravity set work, and was on the subject expert team for the Edexcel GCSE textbook.
  • Take away proven teaching strategies and approaches, as well as monitoring processes and curriculum design ideas to implement an exciting, rich and musical approach to teaching Music in your school.
  • Gain a range of effective methods that encourage low-, mid- and high-ability students across the GCSE.
  • Raise academic standards with a deeper understanding of what makes for an outstanding curriculum design and teaching approach, and be challenged with new ideas and philosophies, regardless of your experience.


Considerations for Shaping Curriculum Design and Teaching Approaches

  • Brief overview and summary of the specification, important considerations and common misconceptions.
  • Levelling up varying abilities early on: strategies and solutions before take-off. Immediate priorities.
  • Achieving an integrated, holistic, outstanding and inspiring teaching approach.
  • Helping students to listen rather than hear, and to talk academically, musically and technically by default. Where students need to get to by the end of Year 11 for outstanding results; achieving this musically.
  • Achieving momentum: the art of questioning, the power of asking ‘why’, and creating habits and norms.
  • P.S. I’m taking GCSE Music: musical mindsets, cultivating curiosity, and the role of environment.

Component 1: Performance

11.00 – 11.30am
  • ‘I have Grade 6 with Distinction but got a 4’: why GCSE performances are not like practical exams.
  • Summary of examiner reports since 2016; common errors, patterns, and immediate priorities.
  • To be or not to be (interfering): the role of students’ singing or instrumental teachers.
  • Teaching students how to practice, how to think, how to reflect, and how to work deeply and musically.
  • Coaching through questioning and masterclasses; achieving excellence in solo and ensemble recordings.
  • Boosting confidence in performing; strategies for wobbly legs and the anxious.
  • Flightpaths and curriculum design; how much happens outside the classroom?

Morning break

11.30– 11.45am

Component 2: Composition

11.45 – 1.00pm
  • Current requirements, assessment objectives, marking grids and common pitfalls.
  • Summary of examiner reports; common errors, patterns and immediate priorities.
  • The role of research and the question of pastiche.
  • Composition curriculum end points and key objectives; achieving this musically.
  • Ingredients of outstanding compositions; minimising subjectivity and impressing examiners.
  • Designing composition briefs – issues, parameters and requirements.
  • Developing students’ skills and monitoring their progress efficiently: minimum time but maximum value


1.00 – 1.45pm

Component 3: The Appraising Paper

  • Paper profiles – question types, maximising marks, and using paper profiles to shape the GCSE curriculum.
  • Developing listening skills without using up finite practice questions: the role of elaborative interrogation.
  • Questions 1-6: helping students to assess the level of detail required for set work questions.
  • Shall I compare thee? Tackling comparison questions using compartmentalisation; developing critical listening.
  • Question 7: teaching dictation musically, normalising the skill, and helping students to chunk information.
  • Question 8: embracing unfamiliar listening, teaching backwards, and developing analytical skills.
  • Question 9: essay technique to help students demonstrate a genuine understanding for the highest marks.
  • Effective essay structuring: teaching students to write well at a high level, regardless of ability.

Component 3: The Set Works

3.30- 5.00pm
  •  A whistlestop tour of the eight musical worlds that form the set works, including key terms, focus elements, teaching strategies and suggested resources separate to the published textbook


London | Tuesday 05 December 2023
London | Tuesday 27 February 2024

Please select your preferred date

London | Tuesday 05 December 2023
London | Tuesday 27 February 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.


Alexander Aitken is now one of the UK’s leading educationalists for Music, and is the author of www.masteringalevelmusic., which is used worldwide. An A-level examiner and former Head of Music, he also was part of Edexcel’s GCSE Music textbook team, having written the analysis of Defying Gravity. He continues to maintain a slightly-too-busy schedule as a Musical Director, pianist and teacher, having most recently been the Children’s Musical Director and Cover Conductor on Cameron Mackintosh’s London production of Mary Poppins.


  • Teachers new to Pearson Edexcel GCSE Music
  • Heads of Music
  • Heads of Performing Arts
  • Teachers considering swapping exam boards


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

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