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Online Resources

for Leaving Cert. Music Students

This page includes information on the Leaving Cert. Music Syllabus, information and YouTube videos of all Prescribed Works, useful websites for Leaving Cert. Music students and links to third-level music programmes in the Republic and Northern  Ireland.

Exam Requirements

The Syllabus

Click here for a copy (in pdf format) of the current Leaving Cert. Music syllabus.

Performance Element

The performance element of the Leaving Certificate Music exam offers a wide range of choices for the student. Following is an excerpt from the current syllabus, which provides a brief description of the options available. Leaving Cert. Music students can be prepared for any of these options at Waltons New School of Music.

2.1.1 Performing

All students offering at Ordinary level must present performing as outlined in (a) and (b) below:

(a) Singing and/or playing individually; or
Singing or playing as a member of a musical group; or
Rehearsing and conducting a musical group;
and
(b) Singing or playing a sight reading test; or
Singing or playing an aural memory test; or
Singing or playing an unprepared improvisation.

2.1.2 Performing requirements

(a) Ordinary level students must perform:
(i) two prepared songs or pieces
and
(ii) one unprepared test (i.e. either a sight reading test or an aural memory test or an improvisation)

(b) Higher level students must perform:
(i) three songs or pieces
and
(ii) one unprepared test (i.e. either a sight reading test or an aural memory test or an improvisation).

(c) Higher level students may, as an alternative, present:
(i) two Ordinary level performing activities
and
(ii) the appropriate Higher level sight reading test or aural memory test or improvisation.

(d) All students should show appropriate musical and technical fluency.

(e) In individual performing, other than performing on traditional Irish instruments, accompaniments should be included as appropriate.

(f) In performing traditional Irish music, some use of ornamentation will be required at Ordinary level, where this is appropriate; at Higher level, proficiency in the use of appropriate ornamentation will be required.

(g) In group performing, students must show an ability to hold their own musical line and contribute musically to its interpretation.

(h) In certain circumstances, students may, with prior permission from the Department of Education, present performing for assessment using an audio or audiovisual medium.

(i) No specific programmes are given. The criteria for choosing music for performing at Ordinary level and Higher level are set out in appendix E.

2.1.3 Higher level Elective in Performing

Students taking this elective are required to perform a programme of approximately 12 minutes’ duration that reflects a further expansion of the Higher level essential performing activity.

APPENDIX A • SINGING OR PLAYING INDIVIDUALLY

(a) Ordinary level and Higher level students may present performing under this heading.

(b) Students should note the performing requirements outlined in 2.1.2.

(c) The criteria for choosing music are given in appendix E.

(d) Presentations under this heading may include individual singing and/or playing of traditional and popular musical genres as well as classical art works.

(e) Three different options are possible under this heading:

Option 1: singing individually
Option 2: performing individually
Option 3: demonstrating an ability to understand and to use microtechnoloqy music-makinq systems.

For Option 3, students will be expected to demonstrate an ability to:

  • input via electronic instruments (and/or conventional instruments with electronic controllers providing a MIDI interface) a musical score of at least two real parts;
  • save, retrieve and edit that score (e.g. change rhythms, pitch, dynamics, timbres, etc.);
  • produce a taped and/or printed final version.

In addition, Higher level students must demonstrate an ability to compile and perform to their own prepared recording or to play at least two pieces from the standard repertory for electronic instruments.

Music Technology Option

Below is is a summary of the requirements for Leaving Cert. Music students choosing the Music Technology option. Students can be prepared for this option through private music technology lessons at the New School or through our Leaving Cert. Music Technology Workshop.

Ordinary level
  • Input, save and retrieve one two-part score
  • Perform three edits
  • Produce a tape or score version of the music
OL unseen test
Higher
level core
(one activity)
  • Input, save and retrieve one two-part score
  • Perform six edits
  • Produce a tape or score version of the music
  • Play two pieces from the standard electronic repertoire or compile and play to own backing track¹
HL unseen test
Higher
level core
(one of two activities)
  • Input, save and retrieve one two-part score
  • Perform three edits
  • Produce a tape or score version of the music
HL unseen test
Higher level
elective
(one activity)
  • Input, save and retrieve two three-part scores
  • Perform six edits
  • Produce a tape or score version of the music
  • Play four pieces from the standard electronic repertoire or compile and play to own backing track ²
HL unseen test
Higher level
elective
(one of two activities)
  • Input, save and retrieve one four-part score or two two-part scores
  • Perform three edits
  • Produce a tape or score version of the music
HL unseen test
  1. Backing track to consist of at least 32 bars. Candidates must show evidence of / describe the compiling of the backing track
  2. Backing track to consist of at least three parts/lines of at least 32 bars each. Candidates must show evidence of / describe the compiling of the backing track.

Candidates presenting the Music Technology option will be required:

  • To state the medium / system / software he / she will use to input lines / parts / tracks and to name the edits they intend to make.
  • To input all or part of each line / part / track, at the discretion of the Examiner.
  • To make the required number of edits. Edits should make musical sense.
  • To demonstrate the ability to produce a tape or printed score. While the tape or score may be produced in advance on the day of the examination, the candidate will be required to demonstrate the procedure involved to the Examiner.
  • To perform the required number of pieces, if presenting Higher level core (one activity) or Higher level elective (one activity). See table above.

Methods of inputting, as defined in the syllabus, must be via electronic instruments and/or conventional instruments with MIDI controllers/interface. Music may also be input by use of the mouse directly onto the stave using appropriate notation software. Inputting may be in real time or step time. Teachers and candidates are reminded that copying and pasting is not a valid method of inputting unless the music copied was first input by the candidate.

Music to be input should be at least 16 bars long and of an appropriate degree of difficulty.

Past Exam Papers

Past exam papers for Leaving Cert. Music are available in pdf format (readable with Adobe Reader) in the Exam Material Archive on the State Examinations Commission website.

The Prescribed Works

The Prescribed Works Group A (2019, 2023, 2024, 2025)

  • Bach: Cantata BWV 78
  • Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture
  • Mercury/Queen: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’
  • Barry: Piano Quartet No. 1

The Prescribed Works Group B (2020, 2021, 2022)

  • Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major
  • Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique, Parts II and IV
  • Deane: Seachanges (with Danse Macabre)
  • The Beatles: Songs from Sergeant Pepper

Resources on the Prescribed Works

The following resources (in pdf format) were produced by the Post-Primary Music Teachers Association and are available to download on Google Drive:

Bach: Cantata BWV 78

Tchaikovsky: Romeo & Juliet Fantasy Overture

Mercury/Queen: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

Barry: Piano Quartet No. 1

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major

Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique

II (A Ball)

IV (March to the Scaffold)

The Beatles: Songs from Sergeant Pepper

‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band’

‘When I’m Sixty-Four’

‘She’s Leaving Home’

Deane: Seachanges (with Danse Macabre)

Other Information

Useful Websites

WEBSITE DESCRIPTION
Ceolas Houses the largest online collection of information on Irish and Celtic music, and has links to hundreds of related sites.
Contemporary Music Centre Ireland’s national archive and resource centre for new music.
Free Music-Making Software The Music Technology section of our website has a list free music-making software (including notation software, virtual studios, etc.) currently available online.
The Hector Berlioz Website A comprehensive website dedicated to the life and work of the composer.
Irish Traditional Music Archive A multimedia reference archive and resource centre for Irish traditional song, music and dance.
The J.S. Bach Home Page An extensive biography, tour of Bach’s life in Germany, catalogue of his works, bibliography, recommended recordings, and other Bach resources on the web.
The Mozart Project The life, times and music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, including a complete Köchel listing, bibliography, biography and links to related sites.
Naxos Education The website of Naxos, the budget classical record label, has an excellent education section, which includes, among other things, an A-Z glossary of musical terms and brief composer biographies.
Source Na Píobairí Uilleann’s huge digital media database, consisting of thousands of video clips of Irish traditional music; brief instructional tutor videos; audio and photo archives; and the Irish Music Collections Online (IMCO), consisting of music from 24 significant historical music collections dating from as early as 1724.
Study Music Ireland A great resource for anyone wishing to study music at third level in Ireland. It includes information and links for all undergraduate and postgraduate music courses in Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as lots of information about applying to study music, including entry requirements and auditions/tests.
Tchaikovsky Research Project The product of worldwide collaboration between Tchaikovsky scholars and enthusiasts, this website is a comprehensive survey of the composer’s life and work.
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