"Have a very good reason for everything you do." -Laurence Olivier

Who am I disagree with the late, great Laurence Olivier when he makes so much sense? Although Olivier was a famous person quoted saying that we should have a valid reason for everything we do, he most definitely isn't the first or last person to utter these sentiments.

Having a motive guides us in everything we do, and without reason, we may begin to question why we are doing something in the first place. Therefore, it is extremely wise that we take the time to analyse both the pros and cons of a situation to make an educated decision that has solid reasoning behind it.

So, without any further delay, since we like to educate our readers and give them firm grounds before doing something, in today's article, we shall discuss the undeniable reasons to study music in secondary school by attending GCSE and A-Level courses.

The Benefits of Studying Music at School

It is a no-brainer that music is studied in secondary school for those who are musically-inclined and can't seem to function without music in life. No questions are asked. However, on the other side of the spectrum are students like me. In what way?

For example, when I was in elementary school, and even secondary school, I did not understand the purpose of having music class once or twice a week. While I loved listening to music and appreciated the talent of those who could sing and play musical instruments, I preferred other academic disciplines.

guitar playing
Playing the guitar in a band hones a lot of practical skills used in life. (Source: Unsplash)

Even though I didn't want to study music in school, the option to learn more about music theory and to explore new instruments existed for a good reason.

Nonetheless, to provide everyone with indisputable facts and grounds to review the basics of music at a primary or secondary school level, the following are a few good reasons that will encourage even the most pessimist of music learners:

  • Helps Improve Other Academic Disciplines: researchers have proven that those who learn a musical instrument in primary or secondary school do much better on exams and course work in other disciplines such as maths, history, and language arts. The brain's left side is developed, which causes young learners to reason on topics more effortlessly. Also, through the study of sheet music, memorisation skills are honed, and this can be extremely helpful when completing tests from all academic disciplines.
  • Provides a Creative Outlet: at times, regular school topics can prove to be a little mundane and stale for more creative students. Therefore, during music class, students can express themselves creatively through the practice of an instrument. Artistic education from a young age helps students develop all parts of their brains and think outside of the box.
  • Promotes Unity and Teamwork: in many cases, those who study music at a high school level participate in group exercises and work together in a band or orchestra. Building camaraderie is an excellent idea since it teaches young adults that good things come when unity is promoted, and people are working together towards the same goal. In this case, the objective is playing fantastic music for people to listen to and enjoy.
  • Stress Relief: a lot of things such as exams, peer pressure, and deadlines make secondary school very stressful. It's essential to have an activity that relieves stress and keeps anxiety at bay. Learning a new musical instrument is a relaxing and soothing experience that calms stress and brings out the best in a person. Even if you think your schedule is too hectic, we remarkably suggest taking some time every week to practice your instrument; you won't regret it!
  • Self-Confidence is Improved: the teenage years are notorious for zapping adolescents' self-esteem and making them sometimes feel worthless. A solution to help build self-confidence is playing a musical instrument. How's that? Although the learning process is not always easy, after notes, scales, and sheet music can be read, high school students become skilled at their musical instrument and can perform music pieces. The praise and admiration they receive for their hard boosts their self-esteem.

After reviewing all of the previously mentioned points, we're sure that you won't be doubting the motives as to why music is taught in either primary or secondary education centres across the United Kingdom. And, in all honesty, I wish that I had been told some of these brilliant reasons, I would've taken music more seriously!

Nonetheless, what about music instruction for secondary school students in their last years studying the GCSEs? What are the strong arguments for taking the Music GCSE? Keep on reading to find out more!

The Best Reasons for Taking GCSE or A-Level Music Courses

playing the keyboard
Learning a little bit about a musical instrument is a good idea before taking the GCSEs in music. (Source: Unsplash)

It's no surprise that music is one of the most exciting selections of all the GCSE course options. Students in Year 9 and 10, can select GCSE Music as part of their course load and expect to complete their examination of the subject at the beginning of Year 11.

All five of the UK examination boards that oversee the GCSEs have music as one of their options. Nonetheless, for students who are selecting subjects in the last years of secondary school and are on the fence about music, what are the best reasons for taking GCSE music? What makes it noteworthy course?

The following grounds are enough to convince any naysayers that GCSE Music is an essential topic of academic discipline:

  • Future Employment Opportunities: while the qualifications and specifications admired by employers significantly differ from job to job, it is a well-known fact that recruiters enjoy hiring candidates who have taken part in creative subjects; it's an asset. Employers are increasingly looking for young adults with critical thinking, adaptability, and tenacity, which are learnt from playing a musical instrument.
  • Excellent Skills are Acquired: since the GCSE music curriculum is so wonderfully planned, learners hone abilities to become more analytical, practical, and social beings. For instance, teamwork, listening to others, presenting in from others, creativity, self-expression, confidence, and self-esteem are all worked on when learning a new musical instrument through GCSE music. It's important to state that all these abilities can be used in other aspects of life.
  • Only One Exam: unlike other GCSE subjects where students might encounter various assessments or quizzes, there is only one direct examination for the Music GCSE, and the rest of the tasks are mainly course work. This means that students can feel less pressure during examination periods and focus more on other subjects' attention.

Honestly, we could go on and on about the GCSE Music curriculum; it is that great!

Are there any prerequisites for students considering the study of GCSE music? It is exceptionally suggested to know how to play a musical instrument to a reasonable degree; however, it's not a strict requirement since many schools may provide students with a musical instrument to practice. All you need to have is a positive attitude, the enthusiasm to learn something new, and the ability to work with other individuals.

What about music courses at a GCE Advanced Level (A-Levels)? Is it the same as the GCSEs? While there are some differences, the A-Level music curriculum is a bit more advanced than older students. Nonetheless, according to the testimonials of students and educators of the A-Levels in Music, the benefits are very similar to those studying the GCSEs.

While it is not necessarily a requirement to have studied the GCSEs in music before taking the A-Levels in the same subject, it is much suggested, and acceptance will significantly depend on the examination board's jurisdiction that your school is under. It is essential to state that all five major exam boards offer a music course at an A-Level grade.

Tips to Ace the Music GCSEs

listening to live music
A passion for music is necessary when studying the GCSEs in Music. (Source: Unsplash)

Although a passion for music can indeed help you in the GCSE or A-Level's practical aspect, it takes more than a talent for playing instruments to ace the music theory part. A lot of practice and heeding others' advice is necessary to get a good result on your GCSEs or A-Levels in Music.

To help our dear students, the following are some useful tips to take into consideration when studying for all aspects of the music GCSEs:

  • Hire a Tutor: before getting too confused about specific study topics in the music GCSEs, it is extremely wise to hire a professional music instructor. Why's that? On Superprof, some qualified tutors have years of experience guiding students through the GCSEs and preparing them for what they need to study. They can offer advice on music theory and practice, and their help proves to be invaluable in getting brilliant GCSE or A-Level exam results. Don't be afraid to ask them questions because some might say that a tutor is the best revision resource!
  • Practice Makes Perfect: to impress evaluators during the musical performance section of the Music GCSE; it is remarkably suggested to practice until you execute a near-perfect recital. Record yourself playing, practice a "mock concert" in front of friends or family, go through the notes and scales in your mind, and dedicate at least an hour each to preparing for the assessment.
  • Find Engaging Ways to Study: when all you want to do is play your instrument, music theory can seem a little boring. Therefore, it's in your best interest to make studying the harmony, tempo, structure, and melody of music as engaging as possible by changing up your study routine. How's that? Use flashcards, study with a friend, create a study group, watch Youtube tutorials, etc., all these suggestions keep the study process fresh.

Heed the previously mentioned tips, and you'll be golden! We couldn't be happier that you have chosen to study music at a GCSE level; you will always cherish your experience since it will prepare for a promising career in the arts and better understand musical instruments.

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