Music GCSE

Course Content

There are 3 parts to the GCSE exam:

  • Performing
  • Composing
  • Listening and Appraising


Students must play a solo piece and an ensemble piece for the exam in Year 11. Students should be already able to play an instrument by the time they start the course, and be having instrumental and preferably theory lessons as well. Ideally students will have grade 3 by the time they start the course. Students without grades would need to demonstrate their ability to play an instrument to a good level of competence before being accepted onto the course.


Two compositions or arrangements are expected as coursework from each student, as a written score, with a CD of the work in performance. Students will begin to study composition at the start of the course, and will then be expected to compose two pieces. It is expected that students who take GCSE will be able to read music, and be willing to complete coursework assignments within given deadlines. A brief will be given for each composition, one chosen by Edexcel, one by the student.

Listening and Appraising

There are four areas of study in music at GCSE, each area of study looks at 2 pieces of music:

  •  Instrumental music 1700 - 1820 - Bach and Beethoven pieces
  • Vocal music - Purcell and Queen songs
  • Music for stage and screen - Wicked and Star Wars
  • Fusions - Afro Celtic and Samba


  • Performance (30%) – students record a solo and an ensemble piece at any time during Year 11 of the course, total at least 4 minutes. Assessment by teacher, moderated by Edexcel.
  • Composition (30%) – 2 pieces of composition or arrangement to be completed during the course. Assessment by teacher, moderated by Edexcel.
  • Listening and Appraising (40%) – 1 hour 45 minute exam, externally set and marked by Edexcel.


Success in music at GCSE allows students to progress on to the Sixth Form to take AS and A2 music and music technology.

Start Date

July 2019

Exam Board



Northallerton School & Sixth Form College

Course Level