'Ceaseless work, analysis, reflection, writing much, endless self-correction, that is my secret.'
– J.S. Bach
Online Resources for Leaving Cert. Music Students
The New School’s Leaving Cert. Music courses and workshops include:
- Private (one-to-one) lessons and Intensive Lessons in Leaving Cert. Music
- A Preliminary Course, designed for students intending to enter our Two-Year Course (or other Leaving Cert. Music course) without either Junior Cert. Music or formal studies in music theory
- A Two-Year Course, designed to prepare students for all aspects of the Essential Listening and Composing Activities at Higher level
- An Easter Revision Course, which also covers the Listening and Composing Activities and provides extra preparation to students studying for the exam.
- A Pre-Exam Revision Workshop in June, offering an intensive final preparation to students studying for this year’s Leaving Cert. Music exam, either at school or on their own.
See left menu for more information on these courses/workshops, as well as Leaving Cert. Music resources for students.
Here are some of the comments we've heard from students taking Leaving Cert. Music at the New School:
- ‘I didn’t know you could do Music for Leaving Cert. until my piano teacher mentioned it.’
- ‘I’ve been taking singing lessons for years and I do Leaving Cert. Music in school, but I wanted a little extra help with the theory.’
- ‘I play traditional music. Nobody had told me that you could play trad for Leaving Cert. I thought it was only classical.’
- ‘I wanted to do Art as a subject in school and it clashed with Music in the timetable.’
- ‘I had been playing guitar for five years, but I didn’t read music all that much. I mostly use tab…’
- ‘I only play electric guitar. I thought it was just classical for Leaving Cert. until a friend mentioned he had done Leaving Cert. Music at the New School.’
- ‘I didn’t know you could play drums for Leaving Cert.’
- ‘My school didn’t offer music as a Leaving Cert. subject, so my dad enrolled me here.’
- ‘I love singing and take lessons but I learn by ear and didn’t read music much.’
- ‘I had written some of my own songs for voice and guitar. My teacher said I could perform them for my Leaving Cert. exam.’
If you –
- play an instrument or sing (it doesn’t matter what performing style)
- compose your own songs or works
- know about Reason, Cubase or other sequencer programmes
- go to a school where Music isn’t offered to Leaving Cert. –
– then our Leaving Cert. Music courses and workshops may be suitable for you.
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Click here for a copy (in pdf format) of the current Leaving Cert. Music syllabus.
Examined for the first time in 1999, the new Leaving Certificate Music syllabus has seen a dramatic increase in the number of students taking music as a subject at Leaving Cert. level. 5,754 students sat the Leaving Cert. Music exam in 2010. The new syllabus has also put good exam results within reach of more students. According to the most recent Chief Examiner's Report in 2003:
- 17.8% of students achieved an A1 or A2 grade in the Higher level exam
- 74.1% achieved a B3 grade or higher
- 97.5% of students achieved honours (C3 grade or higher)
- there was only a 0.1% failure rate
The syllabus is structured into three Essential Activities – Listening, Composing and Performing – and assessed in relation to these activities by means of three categories of examination – aural, written, and practical. (The practical exam takes place in March/April of the exam year.)
The exam can be taken at two levels, Ordinary and Higher. At both levels, each activity is allocated a 25% weighting in the exam. At Ordinary level, students choose one of the three activities to represent 50%. Students at Higher level undertake additional studies – a Higher Elective – in one of the activities to represent 50%. This allows both Ordinary and Higher level students to gain up to 50% of their total marks in the activity that best suits their interests and abilities.
Students are required to analyse four prescribed works under such headings as historical context, style, form, texture, instrumental and compositional techniques (as well as production techniques, in the case of 'Bohemian Rhapsody' and the Sergeant Pepper album). They also learn how to compare and contrast music from different periods and musical styles. In addition, they learn to identify and describe the variety of styles and contexts of Irish traditional music today. Aural awareness (e.g., identification of instruments, as well as melody, rhythm and harmonic cadences) is taught in the context of the prescribed works as well as other instrumental and vocal/choral works.
Students presenting a Higher Level Elective in Listening choose a special topic from an area of musical study. Five pieces are selected by the student, and a tape of ten extracts from these pieces is prepared in advance of the June exam.
The art of melody writing is taught both in the context of word-setting and as a continuation of a given phrase. Students are taught the rudiments of harmony and counterpoint in a variety of styles and contexts as the foundation for exam-type questions. As points of reference, composers and songwriters from Bach and Mozart to the Beatles are used, enabling students to compose using both guitar chords and more traditional forms of notation.
In addition to the core components, the Higher Level Elective in Composing requires the presentation of two short pieces or songs, in any style or genre. These are composed, arranged or orchestrated by the student and notated using conventional and/or graphic notation, together with a full written description.
Options within the syllabus are offered in a wider variety now than ever before. Music for performance may be chosen from classical art music, traditional Irish, ethnic, folk, rock, jazz, stage musical or other modern popular repertoires. The music chosen must show diversity in style and technique and be of ‘a standard consistent with two years’ study as a continuation of Junior Cert. music or similar programme’ (i.e. five years’ playing or singing in a classroom context). The Performing Activity also includes one ‘unprepared test’ from a choice of sight reading/singing or melodic/rhythmic repetition. (The syllabus also allows students, at both Ordinary and Higher level, to demonstrate as part or all of the Performing requirement ‘an ability to understand and to use micro-technology music-making systems’.)
Performing requirements vary for each student: three or four pieces, depending on one or two activities. Students taking a Higher Level Elective in Performing are required to perform either six or eight pieces, a further expansion of the Core Performing activity.
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Rachel Foley (Easter Revision Course and Pre-Exam Revision Workshop
Eoin Mulvany (Preliminary Course and Two-Year Course)
Located in Dublin city centre, Waltons New School of Music is a comprehensive music centre, combining music tuition of the highest standard with innovative approaches to music education. The New School offers tuition in the broadest range of instruments and subjects of any music school in Ireland, for students of all ages, levels and abilities.
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