Awarding Body


Course Level


Qualifications worth

Grades 1-9

What is the Course?

GCSE Music is the perfect follow on for any instrumentalist or singer, wishing to get a grade for demonstrating the skills they have already practised. The GCSE course encourages you to enjoy making music, both on your own and in a group. You will also continue to create your own music in composing activities and listen and analyse music in a range of styles from classical to popular and world music.

What will I learn?

You will learn how:

  • to improve your performing skills
  • music is constructed from initial ideas through to the finished product and how to compose these ideas and develop these ideas yourself, usually on the computers, using Cubase Elements 7 and Sibelius software.
  • to analyse music in a variety of styles across a variety of study and discover the social and historical context in which music has been composed over the last 400 years.

How will I be assessed?

Within the performing assessment:

  • The total performance across all pieces must be no less than 4 minutes
  • Students must perform at least two pieces
  • One piece must be part of an ensemble and must be a minimum of 1 minute
  • A student performing as part of an ensemble must perform a significant individual part, which is not doubled, as a member of an ensemble, accompanied or unaccompanied. The ensemble must consist of two or more players. The student’s part may be realised acoustically or by the use of music technology appropriate to the context. (A solo with accompaniment is not acceptable unless the student being assessed is the accompanist)

Within the composing assessment:

  • Total composition duration across all pieces must be no less than 3 minute
  • Students must compose at least two pieces
  • One piece must respond to a set brief
  • One piece must allow students to devise their own composition without a set brief

Listening and analysing assessment in a formal exam:

  • Reflect upon, analyse and evaluate music in aural and /or written form, using knowledge and understanding of musical elements, techniques and resources to make critical judgements about repertoire and context of music within the 4 areas of study
  • Make critical judgements about their own and other’s music, using a musical vocabular
  • Formulation of critical judgements will be achieved by attentive listening (rather than just hearing) and aural perception

When will I be assessed?

Performances will take place and be assessed throughout the course. Two final compositions will be handed in towards the end of your final year, although you will probably start one of them at the end of your first year. Your listening paper will happen in the Summer exams in your final year.

Assessed performances are recorded in Year 11.

Additional Information

All instruments/voices are accepted and encouraged including guitar and drum kit. It is fine to start learning a new instrument now, but you will need to work a little harder at it. You only need to play one instrument, although it helps to know your way around a keyboard and you need to be willing to join in singing and group playing activities. You will be encouraged to get involved in school extra-curricular music, if you are not already, as this will give you a greater chance to succeed. A study guide is available to buy during the course.

What will this qualification allow me to do?

If you enjoyed the GCSE Music course then you can consider A levels in Music, Music Technology and Performing Arts as well as BTECs in Performing Arts and Music Technology. Former Hanley Music students are currently studying to become recording engineers and a film music composer.

Your listening skills will enhance the aural perception needed in language examinations. Your performing skills will give you confidence in playing to an audience – useful if you intend to pursue, for example, drama or law. Music students often move into careers involving performing professionally, teaching, arts administration / management of groups.
Useful links & Publications