Bishop Challoner

Catholic Secondary School

KS4 Curriculum

Year 11 are currently following the last year of the Edexcel GCSE Music syllabus.

Work in class is based around the following Areas of Study:

Area of Study 1

Handel: And the Glory of the Lord from Messiah

Mozart: Symphony no. 40 in G minor, first movement

Chopin: Raindrop Prelude

Area of Study 2

Schoenberg: Peripetie from Five Orchestral Pieces

Steve Reich: Electric Counterpoint

Bernstein: Something’s Coming from West Side Story

Area of Study 3

Miles Davis: All Blues from Kind of Blue

Moby: Why does my heart feel so bad?

Jeff Buckley: Grace

Area of Study 4

Capercaillie: Skye Waulking Song

Koko: Yiri

Rag Desh: three versions (Anoushka Shankar, Mhara Janam Maran, Benjy Wertheimer and Steve Gorn)

Typically, the order in which we study the set works is as follows:

Year 10: Bridging unit: melody writing, phrasing, key, range, motifs, shape

Edexcel GCSE

Term 1: Moby, Miles Davis, Jeff Buckley
Term 2: Handel, Mozart, Chopin
Term 3: Schoenberg, Bernstein, Reich

Year 11 Edexcel GCSE: Term 1: Capercaillie, Rag Desh, Koko

Controlled conditions composing coursework from January
Appointments for Performing controlled assessments from March onwards


The exam falls into three components: Performing, Composing and Listening.

Performing (30%)

Students have to perform two pieces of music, one on their own (15%) and one as part of an ensemble (15%). Performances are recorded and internally moderated. The music performed can be in any musical style, but typically are pieces that the student has prepared in conjunction with an instrumental teacher. The student may re-record their pieces as many times as they wish within a maximum time limit of 10 hours. It is possible to involve other people in student performances as long as the recording takes place in the presence of the class music teacher.

Composing (30%)

Students have to compose two pieces of music; each composition is therefore worth 15% of the total marks. Compositions can be in any style but should be connected to two of the Areas of Study above.

The compositions should be written down using either traditional music or chord sheets, lyrics, tab; in some cases diagrams, annotated screen shots or detailed descriptions are more appropriate.

Composition work is completed in school and students are allowed 10 hours to write up and record their work. They may work on ideas at home or in school with no time limit.

Listening (40%)

Students are required to listen to extracts from the pieces in the Areas of Study and answer questions in an answer book. There are eight questions in Section A and contain a mixture of factual answers, multiple-choice answers and answers requiring description of the music or reactions to it.

Section B is an essay style question focusing on one of the pieces of music in more detail. Students are provided with comprehensive class notes about all the pieces of music in the Areas of Study. The Listening exam takes place once only, in the summer exam session of Year 11.

Year 10 GCSE Music

The Year 10 class are following the new Edexcel specification for GCSE Music 9 – 1 and will be the first year to be examined with this new specification.  It has some similarities with the old specification in that it is based around the key principles of Performing, Composing and Appraising (listening and applying knowledge). 

The exam content breakdown is:

Component 1:   Performing         30%
Component 2:   Composing         30%
Component 3:   Appraising           40%

Components 1 and 2 are controlled assessments that take place in school.  For Performing, students have to perform two pieces – one solo and one ensemble – and each are worth 15% of the marks.   They can perform on any instrument(s) and in any style.  Regular instrumental lessons either in school or out of school are extremely beneficial for success in this component.  For Composing, students have to compose two separate pieces; one is completely free choice of style and the other is written to a brief set by the exam board at the beginning of Year 11.  Compositions need to be written down in whatever format suits the piece and student best – conventional notation, lyrics and chords, tab etc. We will devote a considerable amount of class time to both Performing and Composing elements. All controlled assessment work is marked in school and externally moderated.


Component 3 is the only formal written exam and consists of answering questions based on set works that the students already know and some other pieces that are similar in style which they do not know.  The set works are:


   Area of study

         Set Works

1.  Instrumental Music 1700 – 1820

J S Bach: 3rd movement from Brandenburg Concerto no. 5 in D major

L van Beethoven: 1st movement from Piano Sonata no. 8 in C minor “Pathetique”

2.  Vocal music

H Purcell: Music for a While

Queen: Killer Queen (from the album “Sheer Heart Attack”)

3.  Music for stage and screen

S Schwartz: Defying Gravity (from the album of the cast recording of Wicked)

J Williams: Main title/rebel blockade runner (from the soundtrack to Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

4.  Fusions

Afro Celt Sound System: Release (from the album “Volume 2: Release”)

Esperanza Spalding: Samba Em Preludio (from the album “Esperenza”)

Progression routes
A significant number of students go on to study Music in some form at 6th form college. Many enjoy Music Technology as an A level choice and will have had the opportunity to use programmes such as Cubase and Sibelius as part of their GCSE work. A smaller number of students take the more traditional A level music; this is particularly appropriate for any student who might want to study music at university. A small, but fairly constant number of students, progress to take the Specialist Music courses at either Peter Symonds College or Farnborough 6th Form College.

Text books and resources
Students will be given comprehensive class notes about each work in the Areas of Study. They will also be given the opportunity to purchase a Rhinegold revision guide which is an additional useful resource. Currently, GCSE students can access all the set works via the Edexcel YouTube pages. It is possible to download some past Listening papers via the Edexcel website for the Year 11 specification but it is not possible to download the matching audio tracks. Students will in any case be using these resources in class.

Useful visits
It is possible that there may be some workshop opportunities that present themselves during the course. In recent years, students have been able to attend a workshop given by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra at the Anvil and also worked with a Composer in Residence in school. Costs associated with these are low. There will also be the opportunity to attend London shows which are always useful experiences for those with an interest in Music. Typically these cost around £30, including coach travel.