Music GCSE

The GCSE Music course is designed to allow pupils to develop their interest in performing, composing and listening. In Ballyclare High School we follow the CCEA GCSE Specification.

Music at GCSE is open to musicians from any sort of musical background and it is as popular with electric guitarists as it is with classical pianists and violinists.

Performance and composition can be in any style and for any instrument (including voice).


Course Content

It includes three compulsory components:

Composing, Performing and Listening.

The Composing component includes two composition tasks, one in response to a pre-released stimulus and one free choice. This will be marked by your teacher but moderated by CCEA (30%). The free composition can be in any style and for any combination of instruments / voices.


The Performance component requires one solo and one ensemble performance (combined duration should not exceed 6 minutes). This includes a discussion of the performances with the visiting examiner (35%). The minimum standard for performance is Grade 3.


The Listening component includes 4 compulsory Areas of Study as follows:

  1. Western Classical Music 1600–1910

– Handel: For Unto Us a Child is Born from Messiah

– Mozart: Horn Concerto No. 4, third movement

– Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique, fourth movement

  1. Film Music

– Coates: March (The Dam Busters) from The Dam Busters

– Williams: Superman Theme from Superman

– Horner: Young Peter from The Amazing Spider-Man

  1. Musical Traditions of Ireland

– Beoga: Prelude Polkas: Prelude Polka, Paddy’s Polka No. 2 and Millstream Reel

– Stonewall: Fife Medley: Boys of Belfast and The Girl I Left Behind

  1. Popular Music 1980–present day

– Eurythmics: Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)

– Ash: Burn Baby Burn

– Florence and the Machine: Cosmic Love.

At the end of the course, there is a listening examination in which students answer questions based on familiar and unfamiliar music relating to the Areas of Study. The exam is 1 hour 30 minutes in duration (35%).


Teaching Methods

Candidates will develop their performing, composing and listening skills by studying the compositions of other composers. They will be introduced to various music software programmes and will use these to realise their own compositions.

Much of the preparation for the performance aspect of the course is studied with Education Authority peripatetic teachers or private teachers (at the expense of parents/carers), so it is important that pupils attend regular instrumental lessons.  Most of the ensemble work is covered in class time.


Additional Information

Pupils studying GCSE Music are expected to participate in at least one of the extra-curricular music activities provided by the school.

Year 12 Music students are also required to perform in the Mock Recital Night in February/March each year in preparation for their external practical examination.


Any pupil requiring more information about this course should discuss this with either Miss Orr or Mrs Doherty.