Music FAQs

MUSIC THEORY

 

What level of music theory do I need to study Music 1: From the Present to the Past?

What level of music theory do I need to study the Composing Music Open courses?

USE OF A COMPUTER AND NOTATION SOFTWARE

 

Is it possible to study any of the Music Open courses without a computer?

What music notation software do I need to study the Music Open courses?

Would I qualify for the educational discount when buying Sibelius?

THE MUSIC OPEN COURSES

 

Do you have any samples of the Open courses I can have a look at before enrolling?

Are there any music articles on the OCA blog?

Who wrote the music Open courses?

Do I need to compose in an ultra-modern style to be accepted?

 

DEGREES AND HE CREDITS

 

If I have my Music Open courses assessed, can I take my HE credits from the OCA to another institution?

Do other universities accept first degrees which include OCA music credits as suitable qualifications for going on to postgraduate study?

 

MUSIC THEORY

What level of music theory do I need to study Music 1: From the Present to the Past?

No existing knowledge of music theory is required.

However, if you’d like to build up your knowledge in this area, with a view to going on to the Composing Music Open courses, there are some optional non-assessed sections you can work on which are in addition to the main Open course.

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What level of music theory do I need to study the Composing Music Open courses?

Although we don’t usually set entry qualifications for Open courses, we do want to ensure that our students know enough about music theory to be able to benefit from the course. This is why we suggest they are thoroughly familiar with musical theory up to, for instance, the Associated Board’s Grade 5 standard before starting on Composing Music 1.
If you are unsure whether you have sufficient knowledge of theory, have a look at the Open course sample from Composing Music 1, downloadable from here:
Music 1: Start Composing Music sample

Look in particular at pages 18 and 19 which describe a project which comes at the beginning of the Open course and where knowledge of rhythms, time signatures, rests and notation are all required. If your honest view is that you could tackle this relatively easily, then you will probably manage the course OK. If your conclusion is that you would struggle to do this, then you will need to invest a little more time in getting up to speed with music theory before you start.

We recommend the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music theory exams, supported by books such as The AB Guide to Music Theory Volumes 1 and 2 by Eric Taylor.

For Level 2, ‘Moving on with Composition’, we recommend you have the Associated Board’s Grade 8.

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USE OF A COMPUTER AND NOTATION SOFTWARE

 

Is it possible to study any of the Music Open courses without a computer?

It would be very difficult to study our music courses without a computer. This is for several reasons:

  • email is the usual way to communicate with tutors;
  • the internet is the easiest way to research new areas of interest;
  • through websites such as Spotify you can listen to a wide variety of music without having to buy or borrow CDs.

As regards the Composing Music Open courses, notation software such as Sibelius enables you to hear what pieces sound like without having to find skilled instrumentalists and/or tutors. You can also carry out time consuming tasks (e.g. transposing scores or arranging them for different instruments) much more easily.
All that having been said, we would be willing to consider exceptions on an individual basis. For example, we recognise that access to the internet is not possible for many prisoner students. The best advice is to contact us if you feel you have a special case.

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What music notation software do I need to study the Music Open courses?

We normally recommend students buy Sibelius. Whilst the full version is quite expensive, there are two pieces of compensating good news. One is that you would qualify for the educational discount (hence nearer £270 than £530); the second is that the full version is, to all intents and purposes, the ‘industry standard’ so would be useful to you for many years to come, irrespective of whether you continued to study with the OCA, or indeed anyone else.

Sibelius Student is admittedly much cheaper (about £80) but we don’t normally recommend it as it’s designed for GCSE and A Level students. To be honest, you could probably ‘get by’ with this for Composing Music 1 but you might find it frustrating if you intend to carry on, since there are features which are available on the full version which are not included in the Student version.

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Would I qualify for the educational discount when buying Sibelius?

Yes, you would.

So far, we haven’t had any problems with Sibelius giving the discounted price to OCA students. However, if your supplier insists on some confirmation from us, just let us know and we will do the necessary.

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THE MUSIC OPEN COURSES

 

Do you have any samples of the Open courses I can have a look at before enrolling?

Yes, we have samples of the Open course materials on our website. You can find these on the Music Open course pages.

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Are there any music articles on the OCA blog?

Yes, we have a lively blog on which tutors and others post topical articles.
There are at least two devoted to music every month. See: www.weareoca.com/category/music.

 

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Who wrote the Music Open courses?

Our three composing music courses were written by the award winning British composer, Patric Standford.

The other Open course – Music 1: From the Present to the Past – was written by the professional flautist and OCA tutor, Carla Rees.

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Do I need to compose in an ultra-modern style to be accepted?

No. The fundamental craft of composing applies to any style, though all students would be expected to explore the work of a wide range of composers, past and present, and broaden the horizons of their personal creative outlook.

 

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DEGREES AND HE CREDITS

 

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If I have my Music Open courses assessed, can I take my HE credits from the OCA to another institution?

Yes, this is certainly possible. The Open courses are fully integrated with the UK CATS system (Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme).

However, it’s important to bear in mind that the rules on accreditation of prior certified learning (APCL) are quite complex, and much depends on the ‘fit’ between the two institutions in terms of detailed course content. Clearly the ‘receiving’ institution would want to be assured that the course started elsewhere covered ground that was relevant to their own provision. The course tutor on the relevant programme elsewhere and/or the Academic Registrar here would be the people to consult.

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Do other universities accept first degrees which include OCA music credits as suitable qualifications for going on to postgraduate study?

Thus far relatively few OCA students have applied for postgraduate music courses. However, the available evidence suggests that admissions tutors think no less of degrees including any OCA or OU content than they would of students with degrees from traditional campus-based universities. Decisions seem to have been made more on the quality of students’ portfolios and the standard of their written work, than on the identity of the previous institution – provided that applicants meet the general qualifications as defined.