GCSE Music

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Exam Board and Specification Code: AQA (8271)

The Course

The College has chosen the AQA Music GCSE programme: a comprehensive syllabus, giving the student a broad knowledge of the rudimentaries of Music. The various components develop pupils’ musical strengths and introduce them to new aspects of musical styles and techniques. The course is academic as well as creative, leading smoothly into the AQA Music A Level as well as preparing the student for the Edexcel Music Technology A Level.

The Music courses demonstrate the creative and academic capabilities of the student, something that is held in great esteem by top Colleges and Universities. Students will be required to submit two compositions. The first must respond to an externally set brief; the piece is a free composition of the pupils’ choosing.

What skills do I need? 

This course is accessible to anyone with an instrument, including voice, and a basic understanding of Music.

How is the course assessed? 

Component 1: Understanding music (40%) 

Students will study and investigate a wide variety of music, including Western classical between 1650-1910; Pop Music; Traditional and World Music; and Western music since 1910. Pupils will take a listening paper at the end of the course in which they have to respond to questions relating to audio extracts. There will also be questions on two set works which are studied in-depth. Currently these are Mozart's Clarinet Concerto in A Major, and the musical The Little Shop of Horrors

Component 2: Performing music (30%) 

Students will be required to perform a solo piece and an ensemble piece (minimum of two players) lasting a total of at least 4 minutes (the ensemble performance must last at least 1 minute). This can be on any instrument, and students should aim to perform music of grade 3-5 standard. Students are encouraged to maintain or take up instrumental tuition, which can be offered at school. Performances are recorded and assessed internally at the start of the summer term, then moderated by AQA. 

Component 3: Composing music (30%)

Students will be required to submit two compositions. The first piece must respond to an externally-set brief; the second piece is a free composition of the pupils’ choosing. Compositions can be in variety of styles using either notation (Sibelius) or sequencing (LogicPro) software. The compositions are marked internally and moderated by AQA. 


The GCSE course will be condensed into 1 year but follow the 2-year programme. On this course, you will : · 

  • Receive 1-1 or small group tuition to work on performance and composition  
  • Be given opportunities to perform in and around the College 
  • Learn critical analysis, evaluation skills and essay writing 
  • Attend concerts/gigs throughout the academic year 



AQA GCSE Music Study Guide: Andrew S Coxon (Rhinegold Education: ISBN 978-1785581526) 

Discovering Music Theory, The ABRSM Grade 1 Workbook*: Simon Rushby (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Discovering-Music-Theory-Workbook-workbooks/dp/1786013452)

AQA GCSE Music Revision Guide Paperback: David Ventura (https://www.amazon.co.uk/AQA-GCSE-Music-RevisionGuide/dp/1785581546)

*Unless students have completed this previously.

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