Work smarter, not harder. I’m sure you have heard this phrase before. But here it is in action. Work with your instrumental teacher to double the potential of the pieces you are studying. This advice is particularly relevant for children between 14 and 18 years of age. During GCSE music, students will be asked to prepare performance pieces as a part of attaining their qualification. My advice is that they should choose a piece that belongs to the syllabus of the exam board that they are following for their practical music examination.
Last year I had a student who was studying for her A level in music. She had chosen to sing for her final performance recital which needed to last 20 minutes. With some careful planning we chose pieces that not only did she enjoy but also belonged to the Rockschool Grade 8 Female Vocals syllabus. I have coached people through performance examinations using ABRSM, LCM and more recently RSL awards, Rockschool. All exams ask the candidate to prepare three pieces (four for ABRSM grade 6 and above) and also to perform a selection of supporting tests. My student was able to use the same three pieces for both her A level and a practical music exam which carries UCAS points for university. And we all know, points make prizes…
To put this into context, an A* grade at A level is currently worth 56 points whist the closest comparison to a distinction at grade 8 is a C grade at A level which will award you 32 points. The cost of entering for a grade 8 for all the exam boards is in the region of £95. Well worth the extra points if you can afford to do so.
So with some careful forward planning and good syllabus knowledge from your instrumental teacher, you should be able to achieve an extra music qualification when studying for GCSE and A level without even breaking a sweat.