Designed for all Edexcel GCSE Music teachers who wish to maximize their students’ marks in the Appraising Paper. Run by a former Head of Music who wrote part of the GCSE textbook, the course will begin with key messages from the 2018 examination, and will suggest ways of integrating these going forward. A detailed exploration of the remit of the Appraising Paper will be followed by a thorough exploration of the AO3 and AO4 requirements of the specification. Suggestions will be made for developing students’ skills, specifically regarding analysis, writing academically and demonstrating a deep and genuine understanding of the set works and their contexts. The course will also look at the skeleton score element of Question 8, and how to achieve a Level 4 essay in Question 9.

The afternoon will explore each set work in turn, focusing on embedding historical and contextual awareness, technical vocabulary and wider listening, as well as suggesting teaching ideas and useful resources aside from those already published. Delegates will not need anthologies.


  • Understand the remit of the Appraising Paper
  • Take away new ideas for eliciting deep understanding of set works
  • Understand what is required of Question 8 and 9
  • Take away suggestions for alternative wider listening
  • Explore strategies that holistically develop students’ skills
  • Networking opportunities
COURSE DATES London Monday 18 February 2019
London Monday 17 June 2019
  • Heads of Music
  • Teachers of Edexcel GCSE Music
  • Teachers of GCSE Music looking to change boards
IN-SCHOOL You can also book this as an In-School Course
  • A specially prepared folder of 50+ pages full of detailed notes, practical advice and guidance
  • Notes prepared by the educational experts leading the course
  • Expert produced PowerPoint presentations
  • CPD Certificate of attendance
  • Two course restaurant lunch
  • Refreshments throughout the day
  • Guaranteed high quality venues


10.00 – 11.15am
Key Messages from the 2018 Examination

  • Key Themes from the Principal Examiner’s Report (successes and misunderstandings)
  • Integrating Feedback and Understanding the Remit of the Appraising Paper

11.15 – 11.30am
Discussion: coffee break

11.30 – 12.45pm
AO3, AO4 and Developing Students’ Skills

  • AO3 and AO4 Explored and Common Errors
  • Developing Student’s Skills
    • The Environment
    • Developing Vocabulary
    • Developing Analysis Skills
    • Developing Aural Skills
    • Contextual Information and General Knowledge
    • Writing Academically
    • Promoting Deep Understanding in the Set Works
  • Suggestions to achieve a Level 4 essay

12.45 – 1.30pm
Lunch and informal discussion

1.30 – 2.30pm
AoS1 and AoS2: Instrumental Music 1700-1820 and Vocal Music

This, and the following sessions, will explore each set work, focusing on:

  • Embedding historical and contextual awareness
  • Teaching ideas and useful resources
  • Key terminology
  • Relevant wider listening
  • Common errors and misunderstandings
  • Interconnections with the wider specification

2.30 – 3.30pm
AoS3 and AoS4: Music for Stage and Screen and Fusions

3.30 – 4.00pm
Questions and Summary

Alexander Aitken

Alexander was Head of Academic Music and Choirmaster at Stowe School until December 2017, and is an A level examiner with Edexcel. He was on the review team for Edexcel’s GCSE Music textbook, having also written the analysis of Defying Gravity. A former organ scholar of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, he has been teaching for fifteen years (in some form or other). His unique, innovative and holistic teaching approach has consistently yielded excellent A level and GCSE results across all areas of the specifications. Now a freelance conductor, pianist, organist and teacher, he is also a Musical Director at the National Youth Music Theatre, and has composed the scores to numerous short films, which have premièred at both BAFTA and the London Film Academy. He holds Licentiate diplomas in piano performance from both the Royal Schools of Music and Trinity College London, and the Associate diploma in organ performance from the Royal College of Organists.

View all courses led by Alexander Aitken >