Search this Site:

GCSE Music

GCSE Music offers students an exciting opportunity to develop their musical interests; to build on and refine those developed at Key Stage 3, as well as learning new skills.

The course is ideally suited to those with good performance skills who are passionate about actively listening to a wide range of music, as well as writing their own pieces.

Students develop their theoretical understanding of music, study a wide variety of genres including Musical Theatre, Classical, Pop and World Music.

The interconnected skills of appraising, performing and composing music are all developed during the course and benefit each other. Our comprehensive and vibrant co-curricular programme means students can complement their learning through playing or singing in an ensemble, attending theory classes or the Music Technology club.

The GCSE course links seamlessly with the A Level Music course taught in St Edmund’s Sixth Form.


Head of Department Mrs D Wainwright
Syllabus Edexcel 1MU0 (9-1)


Course structure

To gain an early insight into the types of music covered, go to YouTube or Spotify and search Edexcel GCSE Music 9-1 Set Works for playlists of all the set pieces.

Four areas of study

Area of study Set works
Instrumental music 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 ‘Pathétique’
Vocal music Purcell: Music for a While Queen. Queen: Killer Queen (from the album Sheer Heart Attack)
Music for stage and screen Schwartz: Defying Gravity (from the cast recording of Wicked). J. Williams: Main Title/Rebel Blockade Runner (from the soundtrack to Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope)
Fusions Afro Celt Sound System: Release (from the album Volume 2: Release). Esperanza Spalding: Samba Em Preludio (from the album Esperanza)


The GCSE Music course has 3 components for assessment:


Component 1: Performing music (30%)

The student can perform as an instrumentalist and/or vocalist and/or via technology:

Performance 1: Solo performance (30 marks)

Performance 2: Ensemble performance (30 marks)

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

Component 2: Composing music (30%)

Students complete two compositions. They learn how to develop musical ideas and compose music that is musically convincing through two compositions. One must be in response to an externally set brief (Composition 1) and the other is a free composition (Composition 2).

Composition 1: Composition to a brief (30 marks)
Composition 2: Free composition (30 marks)

Component 3: Understanding music (40%)

Students are assessed on their listening and contextual understanding. They complete an examination paper with listening exercises using excerpts of music.

For each area of study there are two ‘set works’ and pupils will study these during the course. They will answer questions about musical elements in each piece as well as some about an unknown piece related to one of the set pieces.

Creative life at St Ed's

Future pathways

GCSE Music prepares students for A Level and further study in the subject, opening up a wide range of career possibilities.

Future roles range from working as a professional musician or performer, to roles in broadcasting and music production, and careers in teaching or music therapy.