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Durham e-Theses
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An exploration into the uptake rates of GCSE music with a
focus on the purposes of music in school.

LITTLE, FIONA,LOUISE (2009) An exploration into the uptake rates of GCSE music with a
focus on the purposes of music in school.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.




This thesis examines the relatively lower uptake rates of GCSE music
in comparison to other optional subjects at Key Stage 4 (KS4), such as art,
drama and sport. The purpose of the study is primarily to explore the factors
which might influence students’ decision whether or not to take GCSE music.
In relation to this, the thesis also examines the purposes of music in schools;
whether the compulsory music curriculum in school is mainly for: an
aesthetic appreciation of music and the arts; the advancement of musical
subject knowledge and preparation for further study at KS4; and/or for the
attainment of extra-musical benefits, such as transfer effects. The extent to
which lower uptake rates should be considered problematic is discussed, as
well as the impact of uptake rates on the place of music in the school
The key research question, “What are the factors which affect the
uptake rates for GCSE Music?” is explored using a mixed methods design
using quantitative and qualitative data. Data were collected from pupils in
Key Stage 3 (N=679); those studying GCSE and A-Level Music (previous
option-takers, N=275); students studying for the BMus in Music, and the
Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) in secondary music (N=52).
The key findings indicate that children at KS3 reflect upon whether or
not they perceive that music will be necessary for them in terms of future
career choices as a major contributory factor as to whether they might opt to
take GCSE music; they are less likely to choose the subject if they perceive
that they will not undertake a career in music, and this factor was
statistically significant above and beyond the other factors, between and
within schools.
Additionally, children in KS3, although most felt that GCSE music
would not be beyond them, felt that the perceived need and effort involved
in learning to play an instrument might deter them from opting to take
GCSE music. The profile of the participants in the GCSE and A-Level music
group (who had previously opted for GCSE music) showed that
instrumental skills were held by all but two of these students, and indicate
that instrumental skills are a part of most students’ background; the
implications of this are considered. Other factors are also considered. The
implications of these findings are explored in the thesis and
recommendations are given for further research.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Education
Keywords:GCSE Music; uptake rates; purposes of music in school; transfer effects.
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Education, School of
Thesis Date:2009
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:04 Jan 2010 09:48

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