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Key Stage 4 Subjects


Students who choose to study Music at Key Stage 4 follow either the Edexcel Level 2 BTEC First Award (equivalent to 1 GCSE) or the AQA GCSE Music course. These courses allow students to further develop their own performing, composing and listening skills, as well as, in the case of BTEC, giving them the opportunity to learn about different aspects of the music business. Students are offered the course which we believe best suits their musical experience and skills.


The specification requires candidates to develop their ability in performing/realising and composing, and to develop their listening and appraising skills.

Component 1: Listening and contextual understanding (40% of GCSE)

  • Written exam – 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Exam paper includes listening exercises using excerpts of music
  • Externally assessed by AQA

Component 2: Performing music (30% of GCSE)

  • Two assessed pieces – one solo and the other as an ensemble
  • Either through playing music, singing, or music technology
  • Total performance time must last four minutes minimum and seven minutes maximum (ensemble performance must be one minute minimum)

Component 3: Composing music (30% of GCSE)

  • Composition 1: composing to a brief
  • Composition 2: free composition
  • Combined composition time must last three minutes minimum and four and a half minutes maximum

Edexcel BTEC Level 2 First Award in Music

The Edexcel BTEC Level 2 First Award in Music is made up of two compulsory core units and two optional specialist units from a choice of five. Unit 1 is assessed by means of an externally set examination; all other units are assessed through ongoing internal assessment. The two optional units will be selected based on the suitability of the students on the course.

Compulsory core units:

  • Unit 1 – The Music Industry
  • Unit 2 – Managing a Music Product

Optional specialist units:

  • Unit 3 – Introducing Live Sound
  • Unit 4 – Introducing Music Composition
  • Unit 5 – Introducing Music Performance
  • Unit 6 – Introducing Music Recording
  • Unit 7 – Introducing Music Sequencing

Music beyond the curriculum

For those students who show additional interest in music we have a visiting team of teachers from Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust. String, brass, woodwind, vocal, guitar and drum lessons are all available. The school runs a wide range of extra-curricular activities including The Little Big Band, Folk Group, Vocal Ensemble, Junior and Senior Wind Ensemble, Djembe Beats and a range of rock and pop bands. The department presents concerts throughout the year and supports the local community in a variety of musical capacities. Further afield musicians have recently performed at the Derngate Theatre, Lighthouse Theatre, Masque Theatre, National Festival of Music for Youth, Wembley Arena, Spinney Hill Theatre, The Stables, Royal Festival Hall, as well as attended concerts at the Royal Festival Hall and the Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham. Tours included the 2013 Concert Tour to Rhineland Germany, a 2015 Concert Tour to Lake Geneva and our 2017 Concert Tour to New York. More information can be found at

For more information about Music at Manor School please contact the Curriculum Lead for Creative Studies Miss M Barron ().

Please follow the links below to access the full specifications for GCSE and BTEC Music on the awarding body websites:

Full Specification for Music GCSE

Full Specification for Music BTECFull Specification for Music BTEC

The BBC Bitesize revision website has a range of activities and test materials for GCSE subjects. The link below will take you to the GCSE subject page for Music where you can choose a topic to revise:

BBC Bitesize Music