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Local students to be offered BTEC in music performance

Pic by Johnny Bugeja

Gibraltar’s A level students will have the opportunity to take a BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate in Music Performance this coming school term with five students already interested in the course.

More students are expected to join the course as the deadline date for selecting subjects has not yet passed.

The course will be provided in collaboration between the Department of Education and the Gibraltar Academy of Music and Performing Arts (GAMPA) and was announced at a press conference on Wednesday by the Minister for Education, Dr John Cortes, the Director of Education Keri Scott and Principal of GAMPA Christian Santos.

“I think this will benefit young people in Gibraltar,” said Dr Cortes.

“For a number of years now I have always wanted to promote together with the team in the department the introduction of new opportunities for young people. Particularly in the vocational field because very little was being done.”

“Young people not necessarily because of their ability but because of their interests and aspirations may not have wanted to go through the more traditional academic route but still wanted to aspire to careers in different professions and going through university.”

The BTEC in music performance is for learners who want to continue their education through applied learning in practical musicianship.

The qualification has been developed to ensure that it supports progression to higher education and is equivalent in standing to one A Level and aims to provide a programme of study covering both performance and the music industry.

It is designed to be taken alongside other Level 3 qualifications and carries the same UCAS points.

This course is recognised by higher education providers as contributing to admission requirements for university courses.

The course will be taught at GAMPA who will work with the Gibraltar College.

Ms Scott said Mr Santos has been a very strong advocate for the performing arts for a long period of time.

It was through Mr Santos work with young people he found that they were not able to capitalise fully on their areas of strength within some of the existing pathways available.

“We are confident with our academic offerings in schools,” Ms Scott said.

But, she added, this course would broaden and expand the departments vocational offerings.

“We felt that this was an excellent opportunity to really capitalise on,” she said.

“And we are delighted that some of our youngsters who would otherwise perhaps have opted for other courses and not for music A level because it is was not a course that appealed to their areas of strength. This will provide music students with strengths in the music field and an alternative opportunity for them to pursue.”

She added that the department was not reducing the number of courses available to students but in fact increasing it.

Mr Santos called the journey “a labour of love”.

“A labour of passion seeing so many people involved not only in GAMPA but also in the festival of young musicians,” Mr Santos said.

“We get hundreds of kids that I see get involved in music and not necessarily continue with their education in music.”

“Music is a vocational subject. You can go the academic route for those who are interested but essentially this is about empowering those who are great performers. This is a 100% performers course where they are taught the different elements of the music industry.”

He said that is gives a performer an opportunity to be assessed as performers and not necessarily academics.

According to the Government, employers and professional bodies have been involved and consulted to confirm that the content is appropriate and consistent with current practice for learners planning to enter employment directly in the music sector which includes performance techniques, communication skills and team work.

The course also gives learners an opportunity to focus on their personal vocal or instrumental technique through solo and ensemble performance.

BTEC Nationals provide a vocational context in which learners can develop the knowledge and skills required for particular degree courses.

Students will be assessed on the course by ‘Pearson’ the examination board who provide the BTEC.

The two year course will have the same number of hours of teaching as other A level subjects. The way it will be examined is different to A level music and the course will be provided during school hours.

The course is open to all full time students, including mature students who have enrolled at the Gibraltar College.

The entry level for the course is reliant on level of performance with a minimum starting grade of four.

“Either you have a grade four qualification in any of the examination boards or you have to audition and we have to follow the grading standards,” said Mr Santos.

“Because it is about excelling as a performer. It is not necessarily excelling as a composer, those are extra modules that you do, but 90% of grading is how you perform,” he added.

Finally, Dr Cortes called it an exciting development and one more step in the Government’s policy of widening vocational opportunities for young people.

“It has been a pleasure working with GAMPA and using their expertise and resources together with the experience of the Gibraltar College in making this a reality,” said Dr Cortes.

“The performing arts are very strong in Gibraltar and we have to encourage this.”

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