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    There has been some consultation going on about how the syllabuses will change for 2015 when we lose AS. Since I used to be a senior examiner, I was invited on a Music Tech forum to discuss this. I wondered what students and teachers here thought about what the new sylabusses for Music and Music Tech should be like.
    What would you keep?
    What would you change?
    How can this be done over a two year course with no exam in the middle?
    What proportion coursework to written exam?

    I'm sure Michael Gove would like us to go back to silent exams written on MS paper with no piano or Sibelius.
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    I would say 4 pieces of coursework that can be done in any order over the 2 years
    Multi track recording
    Arrangement type task (like the CSA)
    SIP task
    Composition

    And then the exam could start like the AS exam but with maybe 3 questions of the AS style, then the essay (like the A2 exam) and then 2-3 questions similar to the current A2 exam...and it would be like 2hours maybe 2hours 30?

    I'm a current A2 student
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    That could work. SIP - Sequenced Integrated Performance? They still seem convinced that people still do that for recording like they did in the eighties. I think there should probably be lot more on sampling and audio manipulation. We definitely need a more detail specification of the topics to be covered in the history questions.
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    Yeah, sequenced integrated performance.
    Yeah I agree, maybe they could include it in the SIP, so they could give out a couple of samples that students have to manipulate to sound like the original? Not sure if that would work very well though...

    Maybe make it a more important part of the composition task or have a section of the exam to test it?

    Yeah, I definitely agree, never really knew how much depth was needed for each genre for the AS exam last year (aside from the focus ones)
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    The word is that it will be the same sort of content but scrunched together into a two year course with just one submission and one exam. Bit of a bummer for people who want to do 1 year and then drop it or pick up an extra AS in the second year. I'm sure our numbers will go down.
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    (Original post by test_drive)
    I would say 4 pieces of coursework that can be done in any order over the 2 years
    Multi track recording
    Arrangement type task (like the CSA)
    SIP task
    Composition

    And then the exam could start like the AS exam but with maybe 3 questions of the AS style, then the essay (like the A2 exam) and then 2-3 questions similar to the current A2 exam...and it would be like 2hours maybe 2hours 30?

    I'm a current A2 student
    This sounds like a really sensible suggestion to me - You could even alter the arrangement task (one of the least useful if you ask me) to more of a remixing task - including sampling etc etc. The exam board could maybe supply stems or an a capella vocal and give a brief for the remix to make it more specific - similar in a way to a composition brief but with the emphasis on remixing.

    This would then actually give students 4 pieces of coursework that accurately mirror what happens in the mainstream audio industry.
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    (Original post by Fingersmith)
    That could work. SIP - Sequenced Integrated Performance? They still seem convinced that people still do that for recording like they did in the eighties.
    I disagree entirely. I have run a professional studio for 8 years as well as teach music tech for 7 and a lot of work comes in from people tracking vocals to backing tracks. I do a lot of library music which is in a similar vein as well.

    All you have to do is listen to the charts to see that the majority of Hip Hop, R&B and EDM is a backing track with added vocals, maybe an acoustic guitar or bass.

    I maintain that the SIP is THE most useful piece of coursework offered by Edexcel (should that be Pearson now??).
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    (Original post by Fingersmith)
    What would you keep?
    Multitrack from A2.
    Sequenced Integrated Performance

    (Original post by Fingersmith)
    What would you change?
    Arranging - make more of a remixing task
    Sequencing - already covered with SIP which is more effective.
    Exam - hybrid of both years with more emphasis on A2 content.
    Composition - reduce choice and bias towards the video-oriented task instead which is a really good pre-cursor to anyone wishing to pursue a career in post pro. I think you could go one step further and expect students to record foley effects and re-dub vocal tracks and mix the whole lot - challenging but fun!

    (Original post by Fingersmith)
    How can this be done over a two year course with no exam in the middle?
    This is exactly how my A levels were and I think they were more testing actually due to the fact that you had to know your stuff!
    Create a series of teaching modules that are covered over the 2 years, escalating in difficulty which are then all covered to some degree during the exam?

    (Original post by Fingersmith)
    What proportion coursework to written exam?
    I quite like the circa 70/30 split at the moment as the way the students learn is to actually use the equipment not just talk about it.

    I think not having the AS exam will be a shame in many respects:

    It breaks the year and disciplines nicely.
    It gives you something to aim for after the first year which helps students with poor time management, however teachers will simply have to set their own targets to make sure students don't leave everything until the A2 spring term!!
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    Happy to stand corrected on the SIP Adrian - I know how much experience you have; it's many years since I worked in a studio. When people work with backing tracks, are they still MIDI sequenced? My younger colleagues think MIDI is old hat and everything should be sample based.

    I agree about the problem of time management - it's hard enough to keep them to internal deadlines over a two term course let alone two years (oh, I'll get it done by next year, don't worry).
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    They still use MIDI, just not to the extent or depth of 10 or so years ago - this was reflected in the syllabus change in 2009 (MIDI Control and Implementation anyone??)

    Most programming still uses MIDI as the basic input method but all the control messages (expression, volume etc) seem to be handled by the plugin or the DAW as the MIDI hardware side has become almost obsolete. The people I have worked with will programme with a plugin - automate functions in the DAW and then render the track out as audio for mixing which seems to be the trend nowadays.

    Look at how much expression can be created with a simple plugin like the EXS24 in Logic just using velocity and the mod wheel and it makes you wonder why you need any deeper control unless you're creating tracks for stand-alone players or keyboards.

    Check out the episode of Pensado's place with Simon Franglen - it's quite an eye-opener as to how the methods of working have changed. When he programmed for Titanic he shipped 20 tonnes of freight. When he scored Avatar he just took a Mac Pro loaded with SSDs and plugins as the track count ran in the 1000s!.....
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    I have taught A level Music Tech since the beginning and have always loved the course.
    It has actually got better over the years. I have also been an examiner for 7 years.
    The one disappointment has always been the guessing game exams. I think edexcel
    should be fair to students and teachers and make it clear what they are expected to
    know for the exam. Now it is far too vague and extensive even using the chief examiner's
    course book.
    Also... thanks so much fingersmith for your scores. This is another problem- I think it's daft for edexcel to expect students to sequence complicated music by ear.
    You are a hero and a great help to us all. Are you about to release the Muse score???
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    First draft should be out this week. I totally agree with you about the vagueness of the spec for the exam. How often have you heard, "oh, it must be synths this year"?


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    I'm now hearing that Mr Gove has been persuaded to keep AS as an alternative which overlaps the A2 course. This means that 1st years can do AS at the same time as starting the A2 course and bail after a year with still something to show for it. I was really worried about how it would affect the numbers taking up Mus Tech as a lot do it as a first year option intending to drop it in the 2nd year. I like the idea of a module remixing given stems as it would standradize the task much more clearly - I've always thought that standardization of marking is the biggest problem with edexcel (yes it's been Pearson for a few years now). It really helped when they started giving set works, given styles etc. I do like the arranging task however as it is a useful skill to be able to analyse an unfamiliar style e.g. you might get a brief to write a backing for a disco routine (well, you might!) and never have listened to the music before. I know that last year's foray into dubstep is helping me with my current project - writing a score for a production of Romeo & Juliet. BTW I also hear that the spec change may not happen till 2017 - at which time I hope to retire . Sorry about the dense block of text - my return key isn't working.
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    I've started a new scores thread. Just done the Muse so far - ready for feedback and corrections. Very slow start is year as the college upgraded to Win 7 and, surprise, surprise, nothing worked. We've had to upgrade to Cubase 7 and Sibelius 7 - still not successfully installed.
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    Also on an unrelated note - does anybody feel the need for a new topic for sharing resources for the producing exam? I have a load of resources I have created for the historical development of equipment with slideshows, pdfs etc etc that I am happy to share if anyone is interested??
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    I would be very grateful to take you up on your generous offer.
    my students find this exam tough- me too
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    Excellent stuff - just what we need.
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    New thread started HERE

    Enjoy!
 
 
 
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