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New Resources for a New Term from AQA

sarah perrymanThis month the MWC team are excited to welcome back Sarah Perryman, Music Qualifications Developer at AQA. Sarah has lots of exciting news update on supporting resources, shares details about AQA’s Commit To Teach campaign and tells us all about which CPD courses are available to help you get ready for September. There are also links to free posters for your classroom.

“Happy Holidays!

I hope you’re all having a well-deserved break after the busy exam period. In my last blog post, I focused on the main changes across all exam boards and outlined the main features of AQA’s new Music specifications for you. Now, as our focus inevitably turns toward September and the first teaching of the brand new reformed Music qualifications, I want to make you aware of how AQA can support you as we head into first teaching

Commit To Teach

If you tell us you’re teaching with us we can make sure you and your students have everything you need for September. Let us know here and we’ll provide you with the right information at the right time.

This information will help in planning our support, where to hold events and our examiner staffing.

If you’re not teaching with AQA, you’re still welcome to use all our free GCSE and AS/A-level resources, and we’ll keep you up to date with developments to teaching and assessing our Music qualifications.

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An update on our free resources

We’ve been working to develop a range of brand new resources for the new GCSE, AS and A-level specifications.

Here are the resources so far available for the GCSE syllabus:

Here are the resources so far available for AS/A-level:

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Look out for these GCSE resources coming soon:

July

  • resource list
  • schemes of work
  • teacher guide: Area of study 4
  • student guide: Area of study 4

August

  • teacher guide: Area of study 2
  • student guide: Area of study 2
  • performance piece: Area of study 2
  • teacher guide: Area of study 3
  • student guide: Area of study 3
  • performance piece: Area of study 3
  • performance piece: Area of study 4
  • additional set of Sample Assessment Materials (secure section of the AQA website)
  • non-exam assessment (NEA) exemplar materials (secure section of the AQA website)

September

  • listening library (interactive)

There are more AS/A-level resources on the way too:

August

  • schemes of work
  • teacher guide: Area of study 1
  • student guide: Area of study 1
  • non-exam assessment (NEA) exemplar materials (secure section of the AQA website)

September

  • listening library (interactive)

October

  • additional set of Sample Assessment Materials (secure section of the AQA website).

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Free posters for your classroom

Inspire your students with these posters. We have them up in the Music office and we think they look great!

Add GCSE Music to your mix!

Add GCSE to your music collection

AS and A-level Music it’s your take

CPD courses

We have just finished our series of free Preparing to Teach events that took place across the UK. The events were very successful and we received very positive feedback from teachers.

Currently, we are running Getting Started meetings to help you to get ready for September. You can find out more about these, as well as the other professional development courses we offer here.

Music community

We’ve linked up with a growing list of music organisations that offer free teaching resources, including BBC Education, Royal Albert Hall, Southbank Centre and Museum of Liverpool. Access our community here. We hope you find it useful.

Thank you for reading. I hope you have a great summer!”

If you have any questions for Sarah and the Music Team at AQA you can contact them by emailing music@aqa.org.uk or calling 01483 43 7750.

The Piano Music of Chopin – Topping the Charts for 200 Years

For our guest blog in May, we’re looking forward to an update from AQA. We heard from the exam board last year and they’ll be updating us on recent GCSE, AS and A level developments.

ChopinThis month we focus on the wonderful piano music of Fryderyk Chopin, whose birthday was on March 1st. Chopin’s piano music, which features on the AQA GCSE syllabus, is perhaps less immediately familiar to students than the music of their favourite pop band, but his influence on other musicians and composers was enormous. Most students will have heard the music of Chopin in one form or another.

Fryderyk (or Frédéric) Chopin was born in March 1810 in Zelazowa Wola, about 30 miles from Warsaw, Poland. He was just 39 years old when he died, but had established himself as a leading expert on the piano as a composer, teacher and performer.

Chopin’s entire body of work focuses on the piano. All his compositions include the piano, and many of his works are for solo piano. In fact, Chopin is the only great composer whose work all involves the piano –  He didn’t write any symphonies, operas or choral music, and he produced only a small number of pieces compositions that involve other instruments. He wrote around 200 works, 169 of which are for solo piano!

Chopin was hugely influential in the development of modern piano technique and style. He was the first composer to overcome the percussive nature of the physical instrument and produce truly lyrical sounds. He created new colours, harmonies and means of expression, exploiting every facet in the new developments in piano construction. The seven-octave keyboard opened up new musical possibilities and the improved mechanism aided virtuoso techniques. But more than this, Chopin possessed a poetic touch that makes his compositions unique. His influence on harmony was monumental, with composers including Wagner following his ideas.

PianoChopin’s connection with the piano was particularly important for his compositions. He is the first composer to write purely in terms of what the piano could do, with no attempt to echo the sounds of the choir or orchestra. His inspiration, unlike that of composers such as Franz Liszt and Robert Schumann, never came from paintings or literature.

Chopin’s performances of his own works were often slightly different from the written versions, suggesting that composition and improvisation were linked in his creative process. Many of his compositions were linked to his teaching, with a number of works composed for and dedicated to his students, or written for friends, including Liszt.

Whether or not Chopin can be credited with bringing Nationalism to music, it is true that Polish tradition influenced his work. The musical forms he used, alongside the modes and rhythms, demonstrate his Polish heritage. Other influences came from time spent in Vienna and Paris, and other master composers including Mozart, Field, Paganini and Bellini.

Chopin spent time with a number of key composers of the Romantic period including Liszt, Berlioz, Schumann and Mendelssohn. He travelled around Europe, like most of his contemporaries, touring England and Scotland in 1848.

A master of piano music, most of his works were written for the smaller piano forms: Ballades, Études, Mazurkas, Nocturnes, Polonaises , Preludes and Waltzes. He was a master of the miniature, and many music historians accept his piano writing technique as a model.

Chopin is perhaps best known for his Mazurkas and Polonaises. Both are Polish dances, reflecting the composer’s roots. He also developed the Nocturne. The term nocturne was first used to describe a piece of music by the Irish pianist and composer John Field in 1814, but Chopin, in the words of critic James Huneker, “invested it with an elegance and depth of meaning which had never been given to it before”.

The Mazurka became the national dance of Poland in the later 18th and early 19th Century, developing into a highly stylised dance piece. Chopin drew on the traditional rural Mazurka in his piano pieces, retaining the energy of the style while adapting it into a sophisticated art form, which it retained in European music.

Chopin’s Polonaises were written after the November 1830 Warsaw Uprising, when Chopin was living in France. The dance had long been out of fashion, but he perhaps used the form as a symbol of Poland. He used the familiar rhythmic and melodic formulae of the traditional Polonaise, keeping many of the dance elements even though the works were for the concert hall rather than the ballroom.

Polonaise_Op._53Chopin’s dances were written for concert performances and have been described as dances for the soul, not the body.

Chopin’s piano works keep his music near the top of recording sales even today.

His music also frequently appears in popular culture, as integral and familiar as the most famous Beatles song. From 1945, Perry Como’s song Till the End of Time is based on Chopin’s Heroic Polonaise, and Barry Manilow’s Could it Be Magic is based on the C Minor Prelude of Opus 28. Alicia Keys’ album As I Am opens with an adaptation of the Nocturne in C sharp Minor No. 20, and the Raindrop Prelude was used in a commercial for the video game Halo 3.

What to See at the Rhinegold Expo

As a change to our normal guest blog, this month we’ve prepared some tips on which stands to visit at this week’s Rhinegold Music Education Expo. As the Expo has moved to Earl’s Court this year with new zones we thought we’d signpost some interesting stands…

ABRSM is the UK’s largest music education body, one of the largest music publishers and the world’s leading provider of music exams. Founded in 1889, the first exams took place in 1890. Now the board offers assessments to more than 630,000 candidates in 93 countries every year. ABRSM exams cover over 35 subjects as well as offering range of resources. Find out more at stand G7.

AQA is an independent education charity and the largest provider of academic qualifications taught in schools and colleges. We met their team at last year’s Expo and Sarah Perryman wrote our first guest blog back in May. AQA is proud of its music qualifications: exams focus on practical skills such as composition and performing but allow students the freedom to focus on any style or genre. Read Sarah’s blog about how AQA qualifications are changing.

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Did you know…? AQA set and mark the papers for around half of all GCSEs and A-levels taken every year. Visit their stand I20 to find out more.

BBC Ten Pieces is a project led by BBC Learning and the BBC Performing Groups. Its aim is to open up the world of classical music to a new generation of children. The project selected ten pieces for children of primary age and ten pieces for students of secondary age, aiming to inspire young people to explore classical music and develop their own creative responses to music.

Read our response to the project here and visit stand M18 to talk to the BBC Ten Pieces team.

Handel House Museum is currently celebrating the two famous musicians who lived at Brook Street: Handel and Hendrix in London is a new project that builds on the work of the Handel House Museum and opens Jimi Hendrix’s flat to the public. Check out their new website and visit them on stand M11 to find out more about these exciting developments. And look out for our forthcoming Handel House Museum blog!

Howarth of London will be at stand C16. As an oboist, MWC’s Maria is a big fan of Howarth with both a Howarth oboe and cor anglais. Howarth of London has a dedicated music education team and have designed a range of Junior Instruments to help young beginner musicians. As well as being specialists in oboes and cors anglais, they also supply bassoons, clarinets and saxophones.

bassoons

The ISM is the Corporate Sponsor for the Music Education Expo. Do visit them to find out about their membership benefits and their campaigns. Read our blog on their EBacc campaign here.

The Musicians’ Union will be on stand G1. Visit them to find out about the range of membership benefits they offer and the wider work they do. With over 30,000 members the MU support musicians from a wide range of backgrounds.

Our friends at NST Travel create bespoke concert tours giving school music students unforgettable experiences. Sheena Orchin gave her tips on creating a memorable tour in our guest blog in September. Read more here and visit NST Travel on stand C18 to discuss your tour ideas.

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Rhinegold Publishing is well known for its music and performing arts publications. Titles include Music Teacher, Classical Music, Opera Now, International Piano, Choir & Organ, Early Music Today and Teaching Drama. Alongside these magazines, Rhinegold also publish a series of directories including the British & International Music Yearbook and the British Performing Arts Yearbook. They also produce a range of supplements and free guides which give details of scholarships, summer schools and competitions.

Schools Printed Music Licence (SPML) allows schools to legally make copies of sheet music. The SPML was introduced by Printed Music Licensing Limited which is owned by the Music Publishers Association (MPA). Visit their stand to find out more about the SPML Licence being introduced in April covering print holdings for Music Hubs and Services for schools.

If you want to know more about the Expo, our November guest blog from Rhinegold’s Alex Stevens gives the perfect intro.

And if you haven’t yet registered for the Expo which runs between February 25th and 26th, click here to book your free tickets. MWC doesn’t have a stand this year, but the team will be visiting the event, so do say hello!

 

All Change at AQA

Since the Rhinegold Expo back in March, Maria at the Music Workshop Company has been working to create a guest blog spot, to keep you up to date with what’s happening in the world of music education.

This month the MWC team are excited to welcome Sarah Perryman, Music Qualifications Developer at AQA, as she explains what’s new for GCSEs, AS levels and A-levels, and how the exam board created their new music qualifications… 

A-and-AS-music-imageYou’ve probably heard that due to new criteria set out by Ofqual and the Department of Education, GCSE, AS and A-level Music is changing.

Change can be healthy, progressive and in the best interests of your students. It can also be worrying and stressful for teachers who are under pressure to get results.

I’m honoured to have been asked by The Music Workshop Company to talk to you about the forthcoming exam changes and tell you about our new GCSE, AS and A-level Music.

So, what’s new at AQA?

Firstly, I’m new! I’m thrilled to be a Music Qualifications Developer for AQA. Previously, I’ve completed a Music degree, trained as a musical theatre actress at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, worked in theatre, radio and TV, and run my own production company.

How did we create our new music qualifications?

Many people don’t realise that we’re an independent education charity and the largest provider of academic qualifications taught in schools and colleges. This means that we use the money we make to advance education and help teachers and students realise their potential.

The exam alterations gave us the opportunity to create positive change across all three of our music qualifications. Our Qualifications Developer Jeremy Ward, brought huge energy to their development, hardly surprising considering he’s an experienced musician and previously Executive Director at Rockschool. Students will now study The Beatles, Labrinth, Daft Punk and music technology is fully integrated.GCSE-music-image

We’re incredibly proud of the evolution of our qualifications. They’re engaging, inspiring and sufficiently rigorous to be highly valued by employers and universities.

The response to our draft proposals has been overwhelming – particularly our GCSE, which sparked huge interest. We enjoyed coverage in the Guardian, Independent, Telegraph, NME Magazine and on BBC radio.

See our press coverage >

Music companion guide P20009 cover high resExplore our draft music qualifications

Draft AQA GCSE Music specification >

Draft AQA AS Music specification >

Draft AQA A-level Music specification >

Highlights of our draft GCSE, AS and A-level music specifications

  • They’re relevant and contemporary – more styles and genres, more artists and composers and more opportunities to compose and perform.
  • Designed to be taught the way students learn – we’ve scored excerpts of the GCSE study pieces for modern and classical instruments so that your students can get to know them even better.
  • All music styles are valued – our specification appreciates all styles and genres, skills and instruments, catering for different learning styles and musical tastes.
  • Music technology is fully integrated – many areas of study have artists or composers who have written works in this format and students can perform and compose using technology.

If you’re feeling unsure about any of the changes, don’t worry. The new music specifications don’t launch until September 2016 so you have plenty of time to prepare. The timetable below shows when the switchover takes place.

Date Current specification New specification
May 2015 Download our draft specifications here
July to September 2015 Available: GCSE, AS and A-level Book your place at our free launch events (also available online for GCSE only)
Autumn 2015 Download our accredited specifications and practice papers here
Spring 2016 Free prepare to teach meetings for GCSE, AS and    A-level
Summer 2016 Available: GCSE, AS and A-level
September 2016 First teaching GCSE, AS and    A-level
Summer 2017 Last chance to sit for first time: GCSE, AS and A-level AS first exams
Summer 2018 Resit only: AS and      A-levels First exams GCSE and A-level;AS available
Summer 2019 Available: GCSE, AS and A-level

 

We can support you in all sorts of ways

  • Our music subject advisors are just a phone call away
  • Our Music team and Teacher Network Group offer advice and support.
  • Free teaching resources from our music community which includes the BBC, The Royal Albert Hall, Music for Youth and the Museum of Liverpool.
  • Email updates keep you informed of our new resources and events. If you’d like to receive them, email music@aqa.org.uk
  • Free introductory launch meetings for GCSE, AS and A-level tell you all about our new specifications, resources and exams (book early if you’re interested, these are always popular!)

155308470-edit-MEDAll that’s left to say is thank you to The Music Workshop Company for inviting me to contribute to their blog. I hope you’ve found this helpful and that your students’ examinations go well.

Best wishes,

Sarah Perryman – AQA Qualifications Developer – Music

 

 

 


If you would like to talk to the Music Workshop Company about a workshop for GCSE or A-Level students, please contact us and we’d be delighted to help.

 

 

 

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