Years 10 & 11 Curriculum - Music

AQA 8271



The GCSE Music Course recognises a wide spectrum of needs and abilities. The syllabus caters for students with differing interests and musical experiences – from those who study music at school to the advanced musician.

Over the two years students will develop their musical skills in performing, composing and understanding music through studying four Areas of Study. These Areas of Study are The Western Classical Tradition 1650-1910, Popular Music, Traditional Music and The Western Classical Tradition since 1910. Within each Area of Study the students will be learning about and analysing specific pieces of music as set by the exam board.



Students will continue to develop their instrumental skills, as well as their skills in ICT and critical appreciation. In order for this learning to take place the course is divided into three main components.


Performing - 30%

Throughout the course students’ performing skills are regularly monitored. Each student prepares solo and ensemble pieces on their instrument/voice for assessment. The levels of difficulty of the pieces are carefully checked and targets are regularly set to ensure all students are able to achieve their full potential.

All GCSE Music students are encouraged to take part in extra-curricular activities and will therefore have the opportunity to perform to an audience regularly. There are also numerous performance opportunities within the course when each Area of Study is explored.

In order for students to complete this aspect of the course they are required to be able to perform on an instrument/sing to an appropriate level. For students to be able to achieve the highest grades, they would ideally need to be performing to at least grade 3 standard on their first instrument/voice. For the exam they must perform for a minimum of 4 minutes as a soloist and as part of an ensemble, of which 1 minute must be as an ensemble (with at least one other live musician).

Performing is 30% of the course and we strongly advise that all students receive regular lessons on their first instrument/voice in order for them to be successful on this course. These can be either with a Hampshire Music Service teacher through school, for which there will be an additional charge, or from a private teacher.

In the Autumn Term of Year 11 candidates must record their final solo and ensemble pieces for submission.

This unit of the exam is assessed and internally moderated by the teachers before external moderation takes place by the exam board.


Composing - 30%

The students will submit two compositions. One of these will be a free composition in a style and genre chosen by the student in discussion with their teacher. The second piece will be to a brief that is set by the exam board. Within each Area of Study students will learn about composition devices, structures and techniques that will help and guide them in their choice of composition style.

This unit of the exam is assessed and internally moderated by the teachers before external moderation takes place by the exam board.


Understanding Music - 40%

A listening and contextual understanding exam is set in the Summer of Year 11. The questions for this exam are taken from the four Areas of Study and the set pieces analysed in lessons through the course. The exam is split into two sections. Section A focuses on listening, where students will answer questions in response to excerpts of music played in the exam. Section B is contextual understanding, where students must answer questions about two pieces studied earlier in the course. For each Area of Study the students will learn about a specific piece of music set by the exam board and all questions will be based around these pieces. This exam is 1 hour and 30 minutes long.


Students who take Music at GCSE should have completed their foundation year in Music in Year 9 in order to have the skills in place for the course.


Enquiries to: Mr B Cull – Learning Leader: Music