What do students learn in music in Key Stage 4?

Students will learn how to listen to and analyse music from different cultures and traditions. The main areas of study are as follows:

AoS1 – My Music

This is an understanding of the student’s chosen instrument and the idiomatic features of this discipline in regard to composition and performance. 

Aos2 – The Concerto Through Time

Students will explore the concerto from the Baroque period through to the Romantic era spanning 300 years of musical development of this style.

Aos3 – Rhythms of the World

Students will explore traditional music from around the world. Topics will include Indian Classical music, Bhangra, Samba, Calypso, African Drumming and the music of the Middle East.

Aos4 – Film and Gaming Music

This unit will provide students with the opportunity to explore orchestral music for movies and also synthetic music created for console gaming from 1980 to the present day.

Aos5 – Popular Music

The popular music industry of Britain and the USA is studied here encompassing Rock and Roll of the 1950s through to present day solo artists.


Students are also given the opportunity to improve and refine their performing and compositional skills in a variety of tasks relating to the work studied during the course.


How will students learn in this course?

Students will respond to listening and analytical questions on the music they listen to. Identification of instruments and musical devices during listening exercises is a key component of the way in which students will learn during the course. 

A range of practical exercises will be undertaken during lessons to improve instrumental capability and development. Students will submit two compositions during the course that must show a good understanding of form, style, orchestration, melody and harmony.


How are students assessed in this course?

Students must submit NEA work as follows:

  • Two compositions and two performances – this NEA work will contribute 60% to their final grade.
  • Students will also sit a final listening examination at the end of the course and this exam contributes 40% to the final grade.


Term Unit Skills/Knowledge
1 The Concerto Through Time The year 10 course begins building on the prior knowledge of students in the area of Classical music studied in year 9. Composers such as Bach, Mozart and Beethoven and their works are explored.
2 The Concerto Through Time The students embark on a more in depth look at the concerto from the Baroque period through to the Romantic era. Students also begin to compose a short PIANO SONATA in a key of their choice.
3 Film and Gaming Music The large, powerful orchestras of the late 19th century lead nicely into this unit on orchestral music for film and television. Students explore the relationship between the screen and the music that supports the visual. The exploration moves to the world of gaming consoles and the simple music that has evolved since the early 1980’s to the large complex works used to support the modern games for the Playstation and Xbox. Students explore creating music for short movie clips and also for gaming concepts. 
4 Rhythms of the World Students are now equipped to explore the music from other traditions around the world. The focus here is to find the underlying musical elements that support the traditional music of the Indian Classical style.  The elements of Melody, Harmony and Rhythms are a focus throughout the unit.  Students are challenged to perform and create music that sounds authentic.
5 Rhythms of the World The Indian Classical unit takes the students towards the traditional and modern styles of Bhangra. The social and political aspects of the origins of Modern Bhangra are explored and discussed to provide students with a foundation to understand the history of the styles. Traditional Instruments of the style as well as western instruments are explored and their role and relationship within the music. 
6 Popular Music & Composition No.1 This final unit focuses on Popular music and it’s progression from the 1950’s through to the present day. The simple harmony of early Rock and Roll is compared to the more complex chord progressions that the Beatles introduced. The many styles of Rock that the 1970’s yielded are explored and how the style changed in the 1980s with bands such as Guns & Roses and Def Leppard. The Solo Artist as a popular musical genre is explored and how the relationship of melody and harmony is shared. Vocal styles and techniques that link to the music studied in term 3 on the Middle East are linked with the styles of singing in today’s solo ballads. Finally the Popular Ballad of the ages are explored. The unit takes the students on a journey from the Troubadours of the medieval times to the songs from Elton John and Bob Dylan to Bands such as Westlife and Take That. 


Term Unit Skills/Knowledge
1 AoS 1 Composition No. 2 The students are now ready to embark on the NEA journey having studied the rudiments of composition and effective performance throughout the course.  The core content of the course now having been delivered the students refine and practice their exam technique alongside the constant workshops in terms of their performances and compositions. 
2 Aos 1  Performance No. 1 & Composition No. 2 Rehearsing & Recording the SOLO performance  
3 AoS 1 – Performance No. 2 Rehearsing & Recording the ENSEMBLE  performance. Appropriate choice of repertoire, difficulty Factor, working with a group, phrasing and expression.


4 Revision – PPEs – Walking Talking Mocks The NEA work now submitted to the teacher the students are to concentrate on developing their exam techniques ready for the listening paper in June.  All topics are revised and re-explored through past paper exam questions and orchestral sound exploration. 
5 Revision – PPEs – Walking Talking Mocks – Final Exam Preparation – NEA Administration The NEA work now submitted to the teacher the students are to concentrate on developing their exam techniques ready for the listening paper in June.  All topics are revised and re-explored through past paper exam questions and orchestral sound exploration. NEA work submitted May 15th. 


What qualification is gained from which exam board?

OCR Exam Board

GCSE in Music


Link to exam board specification

OCR Music


How is it graded? 

Graded 9-1, with 9 being the highest grade


What further education and or careers can this qualification lead to? 

  •       Performer
  •       Composer
  •       Teacher
  •       Recording engineer
  •       Music publishing
  •       Music therapist
  •       Armed Forces Musician
  •       Instrumental tutor