Gibraltar A-level students will have the opportunity to take a BTEC Level 3 Extended National Certificate in Music Performance in the next school term with five students already interested in the course.
It is expected that more students will join the course as the deadline for subject selection has not yet passed.
The course will be delivered 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, the Dr. John Cortes, Director of Education Keri Scott and Director of GAMPA Christian Santos.
“I think it will benefit the young people of Gibraltar,” said Dr Cortes.
“For several years, I have always wanted to work with the department team to create new opportunities for young people. Particularly in the professional field because very little was done.
“Young people, not necessarily because of their abilities, but because of their interests and aspirations, may not have wanted to follow the more traditional academic route, but still wanted to aspire to careers in different professions and go through university.”
The BTEC in musical interpretation is intended for learners who wish to continue their training through applied learning in musical practice.
The qualification has been developed to ensure that it supports progression to higher education and is equivalent to an A Level and aims to provide a curriculum covering both performance and the music industry.
It is designed to be tracked with other Level 3 qualifications and carries the same UCAS points.
This course is recognized by higher education providers as contributing to university course admission requirements.
The course will be taught at GAMPA who will work with Gibraltar College.
Ms Scott said Mr Santos has been a strong advocate for the performing arts for a long time.
It was through Mr. Santos’ work with young people that he found that they were not able to fully leverage their strengths in some of the existing pathways available.
“We are confident in our academic offerings in schools,” Ms Scott said.
But, she added, this course would broaden and broaden the departments’ professional offerings.
“We felt it was a great opportunity to really capitalize,” she said.
“And we are delighted that some of our young people who otherwise might have opted for other courses and not for the music baccalaureate because it was not a course that appealed to their strengths. This will provide music students with strengths in the field of music and another opportunity for them to pursue.
She added that the ministry was not reducing the number of courses offered to students, but actually increasing it.
Mr Santos called the trip a “labor of love”.
“A labor of passion to see so many people involved not only in GAMPA but also in the festival for young musicians,” Santos said.
“We welcome hundreds of children who I see getting involved in music and not necessarily pursuing their studies in music.”
“Music is a professional subject. You can go the academic route for those who are interested, but it’s basically about empowering those who are great performers. This is a 100% performers course where they learn the different elements of the music industry.
He said it gives a performer the opportunity to be assessed as a performer and not necessarily as an academic.
According to the government, employers and professional bodies have been involved and consulted to confirm that the content is appropriate and in line with current practice for learners considering direct entry into the music industry, which includes the techniques of interpretation, communication skills and teamwork.
The course also gives learners the opportunity to focus on their personal vocal or instrumental technique through solo and ensemble performances.
BTEC nationals provide a professional 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 which provides the BTEC.
The two-year course will have the same number of teaching hours as other A-level subjects. The way it will be examined is different from A-level music and the course will be taught during school hours.
The course is open to all full-time students, including mature students who have enrolled at Gibraltar College.
The entry level for the course depends on the level of performance with a minimum starting grade of four.
“Either you have a fourth year qualification on one of the exam boards or you have to audition and we have to follow the marking standards,” Mr Santos said.
“Because it’s about excelling as a performer. It’s not necessarily excelling as a composer, it’s extra modules that you do, but 90% of scoring is how you play,” he added.
Finally, Dr. Cortes called it an exciting development and another step in the government’s policy to expand professional opportunities for young people.
“It was a pleasure to work with GAMPA and to use their expertise and resources along with the experience of Gibraltar College to make this a reality,” said Dr Cortes.
“The performing arts are very strong in Gibraltar and we need to encourage them.”