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GCSE Music


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Below you will find more specific information about the curriculum in Music for students who have chosen this subject for GCSE, explaining to you what students will learn, when, why and how. There is also information about how parents/carers are able to support students in their learning, extra-curricular opportunities in this subject and how it links to other subjects and the wider world.

Subject Key Concepts

Performing; Improvising; Composing; Music Technology; Critical Engagement; Cultural Awareness.

Useful documents:

Music GCSE Year 10

Music GCSE Year 11

While this information covers a broad range of areas, please do get in touch with the Subject Leader Mr Byers if you have any questions.

Please click on the questions below to find out more.

Which exam board will students be examined by?

Pearson Edexcel

How are groups organised?

We organise our classes by mixed ability. The students have five one-hour lessons per fortnight.

What characteristics does a successful student have in this subject?

The most successful students in this subject will enjoy working creatively, both independently and with others. They will be open-minded and intrigued by different musical styles, and passionate about music-making. They will enjoy playing an instrument or singing.

What will students learn at this level?

Students will develop the three skills of performing, composing and appraising music. Appraising music will be taught through studying eight pieces of music. These eight pieces cover over 300 years of music from Bach and Beethoven through to John Williams’ music for Star Wars, Defying Gravity from Wicked, Queen and Esperanza Spalding.

What skills will students develop at this level?

  • Creativity; performance and composition
  • Analytical skills
  • Teamwork
  • Music software skills
  • Communication skills
  • Problem-solving skills

How will students learn at this level?

  • Performance practice
  • Listening to a wide range of musical styles
  • Experimenting with different compositional techniques
  • Observing peers
  • Using the internet to support your learning
  • Analysing and Writing about music

How will students’ learning be assessed at this level?

Performance work (solo & ensemble) recorded, internally assessed and externally moderated

Composition work (2 pieces) internally assessed and externally moderated

Written paper (1 ½ hours) is externally assessed

When do key assessments take place?

Year 10 mock exam (end of Year 10)

Year 11 mock exam

Performance & Composition work submitted Easter of Year 11

Written paper sat in Summer Term of Year 11

How can parents/carers support students’ learning?

Wider listening of any kind

Discussion of any music together

Use of Music First ‘Focus on Sound’ website at home (students have a login)

Performance opportunities

Time and space for practice

What equipment do students need for this subject?

Essential school equipment

Own musical instrument (unless they are a singer!)

How does this subject link to other subjects?

History: musical traditions, styles and context

Drama: performance practice

IT: use of music technology and specialist software

English: extending vocabulary through specialist language

Maths: strengthening numeracy through an understanding of rhythm, metre and harmonic relationships

What websites or resources may be helpful to support students’ learning?

This is the link to the exam specification


This is the link to the textbook endorsed by the exam board


What extra-curricular or enrichment opportunities are available for students in this subject at this level?

A variety of groups running at break, at lunch and after school, including orchestra, string and wind groups, choir, big band, guitar and ukulele club as well as use of all the facilities for students taking the GCSE and BTEC course.

What sort of careers can this subject lead to?


What does student work look like in this subject at this level?

By the end of the course, students need to be performing at a level equivalent to grade 4 or above. Students will be able to identify musical details and describe how music they have studied (and beyond) is put together. Students will use this knowledge to compose their own musically coherent and creative music.

How does this subject support a broad and balanced curriculum, meeting the needs of all students, and developing traditional core skills?

Music develops specific creative skills and ways of working. It also helps students make connections by studying music in its historical context, extending language through specialist vocabulary, and strengthening aspects of numeracy. As both a practical and academic subject, it is a useful addition to your mix of GCSEs.

How does this subject promote creativity, critical thinking, practice, perseverance and resilience, and making links?

Music develops students’ resilience and encourages them to embrace mistakes, persevere through practice and improve as performers. The same process applies to creative composition! Making decisions about their own music, and evaluating the music of others, encourages critical thinking. Music is always studied in context, making explicit links with other subjects and areas of knowledge.

How does this subject encourage enrichment and the development of cultural capital, deep learning, and inclusivity?

Through analysis and discussion of music from different times, cultures and places, students are given the chance to immerse themselves in deeper learning and enrichment.