Students who enjoy the subject and are considering taking Music at GCSE will find the following information helpful.

Is Music the right subject for me?

  • Do you enjoy performing?
  • Are you having singing lessons or lessons on an instrument?
  • Do you enjoy creating your own music?
  • Are you interested in gaining a greater knowledge and appreciation of all types of music, including classical, pop and world styles?
  • Do you like a challenge?

If the answer to any or all of these questions is ‘yes!’, then it’s very likely that Music is the right subject for you.

What will I learn?

  • How to improve your performing skills on your chosen instrument or voice as a soloist and in ensemble
  • How to compose music in a variety of different styles and find your own unique ‘voice’ as a composer in this highly creative part of the course
  • How to improve your listening skills and develop a broad musical vocabulary to describe the music you hear
  • How to analyse music in a variety of styles
  • Discover the social and historical context in which different styles of music have been written.

 How is the course assessed?

  • Performance (coursework) – up to 30% – two recorded performances; one solo, one as a member of a small ensemble
  • Composition (coursework) – up to 30% – two compositions, one in response to a brief provided by the exam board, the other free choice
  • Listening and Appraising (exam) – up to 40% – an exam paper with questions about the different types of music you have studied, based upon audio recordings played in the exam.

When will each component be taken?

  • Performance – opportunities to perform for recording and assessment throughout Year 11
  • Composition – controlled assessment time during lessons; work to be completed during Year 11
  • Listening and Appraising – the final exam will be taken at the end of Year 11 in the summer term.

Will I be ready to take the course?

You will already have gained many of the basic skills needed for this course in your music lessons over the last three years at secondary school.

  • You have been introduced to creating and developing musical ideas of your own in class. This is developed further on the GCSE course, and you can choose the type of music you would like to write. For example, this could be a pop song and a dance track, a classical piece or some world music. There is a wide choice and it can be tailored to suit your own musical interests and strengths as a musician
  • Having already listened to a variety of music in class, you will be aware of some of the things that you might have to identify as features of a particular style. Your understanding and awareness will grow as you study works from Classical, 20th century, Popular and World Music areas of study.

The GCSE course encourages you to perform music of your own choosing and in any appropriate style for your voice or instrument, both as a soloist and also in a group.

To take this course, you must be able to offer just one instrument or voice.

What can I do after I’ve completed the course?

If you enjoyed the GCSE Music course, then you might well consider pursuing this subject further by taking it at A Level.

  • A Level Music offers even more opportunities for tailoring the course to your own personal strengths as a musician, within both aspects of coursework as well as the exam
  • The performing skills you hone during this time will help to give you confidence in performing or presenting to an audience. As well as in music, this is useful if you intend to pursue subjects such as Drama or Law
  • Research has shown strong links between musical training and the enhancement of numerous skills including language, speech, vocabulary acquisition, memory and attentiveness; all highly desirable traits for further study in any area.


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