Leehurst Swan School


Independent Co-Educational Day School

Tel: 01722 333094


The GCSE Music content is divided into the three components:

  • Understanding music - This component is worth 40% of GCSE marks (96 marks). It will be assessing listening and contextual understanding. There will be an exam paper with listening exercises and written questions using excerpts of music. There will be two different sections: A: Listening – unfamiliar music (68 marks) and B: Study pieces (28 marks). The exam is one 1 hour and 30 minutes long.
  • Performing music - This component is 30% of GCSE marks (72 marks). Students must be able to perform live music. There are two performances required. One performance must be as a soloist and one piece must be as part of an ensemble lasting a combined minimum of four minutes. The performance as part of an ensemble must last for a minimum of one minute.
  • Composing music -This component is 30% of GCSE marks (72 marks). Students are required to compose two pieces of music. One must be in response to an externally set brief (Composition 1 – 36 marks) and the other a free composition (Composition 2 – 36 marks). A minimum of three minutes of music in total is required. 

During the first year of the course, students learn about four areas of study: 

Western classical tradition 1650–1910

Popular music

Traditional music

Western classical tradition since 1910.

Pupils will also study the techniques of composition and will produce a piece of music for Christmas. 

In the second year pupils focus on finishing their examination compositions and performing chosen pieces of music.