GCSE Music Course Online

The OCR GCSE Music qualification provides a contemporary, accessible, and creative education in music with an integrated approach to the three main elements – performing, composing, and appraising.


The OCR GCSE Music qualification is designed to appeal to, and cater for a wide range of interests, instruments, personalities and directions. The new specification offers a range of opportunities to study diverse and traditional fields, and encourages learners to experiment in their own performing, composing and listening as well as develop interest in and enthusiasm for all aspects of their musical heritage.


The OCR GCSE Music syllabus enables pupils to progress on to A Level Music and/or develop their skills as a performer or composer.


The Teacher

Hello. I am Head of Music at Cambridge Home School. I have taught Music to countless numbers of students it in all of its various manifestations: Academic Music (up to A Level), Performance (Saxophone, Piano, Jazz, and Improvisation), Music Theory, Musical Analysis, Aural Skills, etc. In addition to my specialisms of Analysis and Composition, I am also a professional saxophonist and have performed in famous venues worldwide with many renowned musicians. This wide-ranging experience serves well for delivering instruction in all aspects of the GCSE music course – performing, composing, and appraising.


Course Overview

  • Entry Requirements: 10 years or over, No previous music qualifications required. Enthusiastic beginners are welcome but must agree to learning to play an instrument or learning to sing alongside this course as musical performance is a key part of the course. This is available online too and we can arrange this for you.
  • Programme 2 years: available all year around - enroling now. GCSE intensive one year course also available - see fees below.
  • Technical Requirements: broadband connection / Instrument or other means of performance (sequencer, decks,voice etc.). Means of recording performances (the recording function on smart phones/tablets should suffice but a microphone or recording device would be even better). Means of recording composition e.g. manuscript paper, music software (notation software / DAW / sequencer, etc.), audio recording accompanied by written account
  • Progression: to A Level Music
  • Accreditation: Oxford Cambridge and RSA Examinations (OCR).
  • Tuition: 2 x LIVE weekly lessons, marking and feedback, exam preparation and lots of friendly advice and encouragement

How It Works

Students receive access to their own online studio where they can work through their course. Units and assignments are listed along with supporting resources, video tutorials for skills development, step by step guides etc. Audio, video and Word files of students' completed work are uploaded to their college e portfolio for assessment and constructive, friendly written feedback on how to progress. Students are invited to attend two LIVE interactive online lessons at timetabled times - currently Mondays and Thursdays 11.30am to 12.30am. If students can't make the lessons they can watch them in their own time so they won't miss any of the course content. The fully qualified and experienced school music teacher is available for feedback via email and messager. Students are invited to discuss their progress and receive face to face verbal feedback, encouragement and support. Students may also benefit from relationships with their fellow online students as they can view profiles and comment on each others' work if they wish.


Two compositions are required - one of the candidate's own choice and another to a brief released by the exam board on September 1st of the year the candidate is to take their assessment (as the new spec for Music began this year, this means the first set of briefs will be released on September 1st 2017).


To help guide students, especially when it comes to the free composition (which can be quite a daunting task for those who have never composed before), I find it best to begin with a macroscopic approach, making decisions first about purpose/genre, then the overall structure along with the matrices (such as key and time signature) and trajectory/character for each section within this structure, etc. Within lessons, the compositional options for each of these levels would be presented and explored so that students have a clear idea of what is possible before they make their own compositional decisions. This helps scaffold the process of composition and ensure students are continuously working on their pieces and not leaving them till the last minute. Furthermore, evaluating the students' work at each stage of this process will further help ensure authenticity.


Compositions need to be submitted as a recording accompanied by a score, lead sheet, or written account. This recording can be live (carried out by the student accompanied by other musicians if necessary) or electronically produced (for which there is plenty of free or cheap software available).



Performances must total a minimum of 4 minutes with at least 1 minute of ensemble work. Typically, students study these pieces with their instrumental teachers with guidance by their GCSE music teacher on piece selection. For those students without teachers, I am able and happy to provide instruction on performance, and in fact, I prefer hearing all students perform throughout the course so as to ensure they are fulfilling the marking criteria. This can be done over Skype or through another VoIP service.


As mentioned above, ensemble performance need not involve other performers. However, in case this is the students preference, I would make them aware of this and notify them that they would have to find someone to perform with prior to them signing up for course. I do not foresee this as being too much of a problem, however, as instrument teachers often have other students who could participate in a duo or the teachers themselves can perform with the candidates (the other performers in the ensemble need not be GCSE candidates). Alternatively, candidates could find people to perform with through their local music centre or even through advertising online.


To ensure the performances are the candidates own, I would be present over Skype whilst they were recording their performance.


Listening & Appraising

Within classes, students would learn how to aurally and visually analyze each of the musical elements and compositional devices listed within the spec. To help expand the number of pieces studied, students would then apply such analysis to different pieces within the same Area of Study. Allowing for peer review, I would then have students mark each other's work, which would also ensure they are encountering a greater number of pieces.



Instrument or other means of performance (sequencer, decks, etc.)

Means of recording performances and compositions (this need not be a high-end microphone, especially considering that the recording facilities on many devices are superior to the equipment used to record GCSE performances in the past)

(If students' compositions are not recorded live), music software such as a sequencer, scorewriter, or synthesizer (there are a huge number of options ranging from free to reasonably-priced apps to high-end computer programmes from which I will provide a list of recommendations)

Manuscript paper

Means of listening to music



Homework will be given each lesson, and will usually consist of music analysis, composition, and performance practice.


Teacher assessments are continuous during LIVE TAUGHT lessons, monitoring and marking of non-exam assessments, and summative tests. Both performance and composition are non-examined assessments. I have asked OCR whether it is acceptable for me to carry out these assessments and sign the authentication forms, and they said that this is fine so long as the entering centre who submits them is happy with this.


The listening & appraising component is externally assessed at the end of the course and thus would need to take place at a centre.


Parents have 24/7 access to all of their children's coursework.

Additionally, the school holds 3 parent consultations per year - one each term.


Structure Of The Course


The course will follow the current OCR GCSE specification.


The course will be based on the textbook recommended for the OCR GCSE.

This specification is well-regarded among colleges and universities due to its integrated structure allowing learners to grasp the interconnection of all aspects of Music practice and appreciation, and thereby giving a firm basis from which to springboard into A-level and beyond.

GCSE Music is split into three components:

Integrated Portfolio (30% of the mark) including:

1Performance on the learner's chosen instrument.

2Composition to a brief set by the learner.

Practical Component (30% of the mark) including:

3Ensemble performance.

4Composition to a board-set brief.


Listening Exam (40% of the mark) testing:

5Listening and appraisal skills related to four areas of study.

6Notation skills.

Download Syllabus - Here

Recommended textbook

Guinane, David, Hanh Doan, and Steven Berryman. OCR GCSE Music Study Guide. Rhinegold Education, 2016.



Standard Two Year IGCSE just £34.99 GBP x 20 months or single payment of £699 GBP- $927 USD - same fee for international students.

Intensive One Year IGCSE just £99.99 x 10 months or single payment of £999 GBP- $1325 USD - same fee for international students.


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