Music: A GCSE Course


The course has three elements; listening; performing and composing. Each element is explored throughout the course, allowing the pupil’s own interest and musical style to be the basis for this work.

The five areas of study include: Rhythm & Metre, Harmony & Tonality, Texture & Melody, Timbre & Dynamics and Structure & Form. These areas are studied in the context of the following strands of learning: The Western Classical Tradition, Popular Music of the 20th and 21st Centuries and World Music.

All pupils taking this course should already be skilled in playing an instrument or using their voice and therefore will be encouraged to have further lessons in their chosen instrument. These can be provided through the School Music Service, or taken privately.

How will the work be assessed?

Examination 70%

The examination is taken in several parts and includes all three elements of the course: listening, performing and composing.

Listening 20%

A formal examination which tests the ability to recognise musical styles of the past and present, identify the relationship between sound and written notation, and make musical judgement.

Performing 40%

Pupils perform live, as a soloist on an instrument or voice of their choice and as part of an ensemble.

Composition 10%

An appraisal of the directed composition is sat under formal examination conditions.

Controlled Assessment 30%


There are two pieces of coursework to be completed within time limits.

Task 1:

Composition is directed by the examination board in terms of content and has two parts:

Part 1: The pupils will have 20 hours to complete the coursework. A score and recording is required. 10%.

Part 2: Appraisal examination – see examination.

Task 2:

Composition is directed by the areas of study and pupils will have 25 hours to complete the coursework. A score and recording is required. 20%.

Are there different levels of entry?

Music has just one tier of entry that offers grades A* – G.