Key Stage 4

Edexcel GCSE Music

Is this the right subject for me?

If you enjoy:

  • composing and performing music
  • learning an instrument or singing
  • creating music on computers or in a recording studio
  • learning about all types of music, including classical, popular and world

...then GCSE music is the ideal subject for you.

What do I need to know, or be able to do, before taking this course?

  • You have already gained many of the basic skills needed for this course in your music lessons over the last three years at secondary school.
  • You have been introduced to creating music of your own in class and this is developed on the GCSE course as you choose two topics for composition. For example, this could be a popular song and a dance track, a classical piece or some world music. There is a wide choice and it can be tailored to your own musical interests and strengths.
  • You have already listened to a variety of music in class and these skills are developed as you study some set pieces taken from the classical, 20th century, popular and world music Areas of Study.
  • You enjoy making music, either as a soloist or in a group. The GCSE course encourages you to perform music of your own choosing and in any style, as a soloist and also in a group. To take this course, you must be able to offer at least one instrument/or voice.

What will I learn?

You will learn how:

  • to improve your performing skills.
  • music is constructed from initial ideas through to the finished product.
  • to analyse music in a variety of styles and discover the social and historical context in which music has been composed over the last 400 years or so.

How will I be assessed?


You will need to play one solo piece and one ensemble piece.


You will need to create two compositions.

Listening and Appraising

You will sit a 90 minute written paper with questions on your prescribed set works. Questions such as these are asked:

• ‘Name the instrument playing the solo’

• ‘Give two musical reasons why you like or dislike this piece of music.’

• ‘This theme is shared between two instrumental families? What are they?’

What can I do after I have completed the course?

If you enjoyed the GCSE Music course then you can consider:

  • AS and A2 in Music
  • AS and A2 in Music Technology
  • AS and A2 in Performing Arts.

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.

Edexcel Level 2 BTEC First Certificate in Music

So what is a BTEC?

  • The Edexcel Level 2 BTEC First Certificate in Music is a qualification which offers an opportunity for students to experience a vocational qualification. By vocational it means that students will be learning skills that could be transferred to a career (especially in the music industry).
  • The Level 2 BTEC is the equivalent of one GCSE grades and is 75% coursework with a written exam taken at the end of year 10 worth 25%.
  • If you like performing, researching and analysing music of your choice, recording your own music in a studio, creating your own music and using computer-based programmes then this is the course for you.

What will I learn?

  • Students will develop a range of skills and techniques, personal qualities and attitudes essential for successful performance in working life.
  • Students will be able to choose from a wide variety of specialist training with a focus on aspects of employment within the music industry.
  • Students will develop a perceptive, sensitive, analytical and critical response to music of different styles in a variety of historical and cultural contexts.
  • Students can choose to focus on performance, Music Technology or a combination of the both.

So how is the course structured?

At Richmond Park Academy we deliver the following units:

Unit 1

The Music Industry (Year 10)

  • A. Understand the different types of organisations that make up the music industry.
  • B. Understand job roles in the music industry.

Unit 2

Managing a Musical Product (Year 10)

  • A. Plan, develop and deliver a music performance.
  • B. Promote a music performance.
  • C. Review the management of a music performance.

Unit 5

Introducing Musical Performance (Year 11)

  • A. Develop your music performance skills and review your own practice.
  • B. Use your music performance skills within rehearsal and performance.

Unit 6

Introducing Music Recording (Year 11)

  • A. Plan a recording session.
  • B. Use recording equipment safely to produce multi-track recordings.

How will I present my work?

Work is presented using formats that you prefer. A few examples of the ways that students have submitted work are as a Powerpoint presentation, as a DVD of a performance or interview or a CD of their own music. This has given students the opportunity not only to gain subject-specific skills but also develop transferable skills in ICT, leadership and management, planning etc.

What sort of trips and performance opportunities will there be?

The most important trips will be the recording weeks where students will use the studio at Heatham House in Twickenham for block sessions. Students have enjoyed performing to parents and other year groups at either BTEC specific events, the GCSE Performing Arts Showcase or the Christmas Concert to name a few.

Useful Links

PRS for Music - a £30 lifetime fee to join and protect your copyright and royalties. Any parent should buy this as a Christmas gift for a budding songwriter or producer.

BASCA (British Academy of Songwriters, Composers & Authors) - a key movement/union of songwriters that fights to change the law in this ever changing industry climate to protect songwriter's rights.

The Brit School - every young performers' dream college.

The Academy of Contemporary Music - a university that has its feet firmly planted in the industry and makes a point in involving students within the industry to give them a head start in their career.


Music Gateway