Aiming for full marks

Classroom Pedagogy

I always find this term hard going. Coursework deadlines for GCSE and A Level are imminent and I am wondering how on earth we are going to get everything in. But we will, despite the crazily busy lunchtimes in the computer room and last minute copying of scores and accompaniment parts, we will get there.

But I keep getting the same types of questions from my students and they puzzle me:

‘How can I get 30/30?’

‘If I modulate will I get a higher mark?’

(5 minutes after feedback) ‘Can you listen again, is it a higher mark now?’

I know I am lucky in many ways. My students care about their outcomes and in a target driven education system they want full marks. Not 28/30 but 30/30. But I am still not sure I know what a 30/30 sounds like in composition. Not until I come across it, then I usually just know. I wish I could articulate how in a neat sentence. The worst situation is when a student completes a fantastic piece of composition and it doesn’t come up as full marks so they have to shoehorn in something to tick all the boxes. Then if we do this, is the process still composition?

Is there a formula for full marks in music? Please do let me know if you have one.


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