Castle Manor Academy

GCSE Music

Subject Overview

GCSE Music is an exciting opportunity for students to develop and consolidate their music work at Key Stage 3 in the principal areas of performing, composing, listening, and appraising. Each of these components is related to areas of study including Musical Forms and Devices, Music for Ensemble, Film Music, Popular Music.  

GCSE Music is intended to be relevant for those who enjoy making music at whatever level and is a practical course where 60% is coursework-based. As 30% of the course is in performing, music students are strongly advised to perform as part of the Academy’s music groups (Elastic Band, choir or create their own ensemble) and take instrumental lessons as this will help them fully develop in this area. 

Course Information and Assessment

The course is divided into 3 components: 

Component 1 – Performing (30% of overall mark) 

Students will have some limited practical time and workshops to practise their instrument in lesson. Students will need to dedicate time outside school to regular practice. Performances are embedded throughout the GCSE. Two final performances, one group and one solo, are submitted for examination at the end of the course. 

Component 2 – Composing Music (30% of total marks) 

Students will learn how to compose music in a variety of styles. For this component, students will compose one piece of music to a brief set by the exam board and one free composition set by the student. 

Component 3 – Appraising (40 % of total marks) 

During the course, students will learn how to analyse music using specific musical terminology covering areas such as pitch, rhythm, texture, dynamics, and structure. They will also look at a variety of music within the given areas of study. At the end of their course, they will be tested on this information in an exam where they must listen to extracts from pieces and analyse them. 


Music is widely regarded as providing many of the skills necessary for a rounded, creative personality. A practical course in Music develops many skills for which employers look for, including adaptability, physical coordination, confidence, and cooperation. After completing a GCSE in Music, students can go on to study Music or Music Technology at A-level or, vocationally, in a Sixth Form or at Further Education College.