KS3 Music

Students in Year 7 and Year 8 are provided with opportunities to develop their knowledge and understanding of musical language through the study, creation and performance of a wide variety of music with a strong emphasis on practical skills. Students are able to perform and compose in styles which suit their taste and experience which may include using music technology such as Sibelius software. Students can also build on the knowledge and skills they have gained through their experiences of music outside school.

Music has three elements – Performing, Composing and Listening. These are not just studied in isolation but complement each other.

The Year 7 curriculum includes topics which focus upon:

  • Timbre
  • Notation
  • The Human Voice
  • The Baroque Period
  • Music From Different Parts of the World
  • The Classical Period
  • Melody, Phrase, Steps and Leaps
  • Pulse, Rhythm and Metre
  • Contrast

The Year 8 curriculum includes topics which focus upon:

  • Melody, Phrase, Pulse, Rhythm, Metre and Silence
  • Music for Advertisements
  • Notation
  • Score Reading and Arrangement
  • Tonality
  • The Romantic Period
  • 20th Century Music
  • Texture
  • Primary Chords
  • 12 Bar Blues
  • Theme and Variation Form
  • Pop & Commercial Music

Assessment of work in Year 7 and Year 8 is based on Peer Assessment of compositions and performances. Work is assessed at the end of each topic which is approximately every four lessons.


The GCSE Music qualification is designed to motivate and stretch students of all abilities, equipping them with the skills and experience to succeed at GCSE and go on to further study.

Music technology is fully integrated and many areas of study have artists or composers who have written works in this format. Students can perform and compose using technology.

The qualification appreciates all styles and genres, skills and instruments, catering for different learning styles and musical tastes.

GCSE Music Assessments

This qualification is linear which means that students will sit all their exams and submit all their non-exam assessment at the end of the course.

Component 1 – Understanding Music

What’s assessed

  • Listening
  • Contextual Understanding

How it’s assessed

Exam paper with listening exercises and written questions using excerpts of music


Section A: Listening – unfamiliar music (68 marks)

Section B: Study pieces (28 marks)

The exam is 1 hour and 30 minutes

This component is worth 40% of GCSE marks (96 marks).

Component 2 – Performing music

What’s assessed

Music performance

How it’s assessed

As an instrumentalist and/or vocalist and/or via technology:

Performance 1: Solo performance (36 marks)

Performance 2: Ensemble performance (36 marks)

A minimum of four minutes of performance in total is required, of which a minimum of one minute must be the ensemble performance.

The component is 30% of GCSE marks (72 marks).

Performances must be completed in the year of certification.

Component 3 – Composing music

What’s assessed


How it’s assessed

Composition 1: Composition to a brief (36 marks)

Composition 2: Free composition (36 marks)

A minimum of three minutes of music in total is required.

This component is 30% of GCSE marks (72 marks).

A qualification in GCSE Music can lead to a career as a Music Producer, Club DJ, Rock Star, Singer (Vocalist), Song Writer, Record Producer, Music Therapist, Radio DJ, Music Director, Program Director, Session Musician, Conductor, Music Journalist, Booking Agent, Recording Engineer, Production Music, Artist & Repertoire Co-ordinator, Background Singer, Composer, Music Teacher. Further details on 100+ careers in music can be found at