Music, from earliest times, has been an important outlet for human expression. Today it is a valued social and cultural art form that transcends language and religious and racial barriers.

In modern life, music serves many functions:

Music is a worthwhile activity for its own sake
Socially shared musical activities help develop social skills and co-operation
Music education engages aspects of human development in an active and imaginative way
Music provides life and employment opportunities
Music has an important role to play in the economy, both nationally and internationally

Today, individual differences in musical values and experiences are an indication of the diversity and vitality in our society. In accommodating these differences, this syllabus also accommodates divergence in students’ musical needs, interests, and ambitions.

Choosing Music

Students who have a background in music and play an instrument are usually attracted to studying music.

Students shouldn’t feel discouraged if they do not play an instrument or if they don’t have formal training in music. These skills can be acquired quite quickly if a student is interested.

Students should choose music as an option if they enjoy music!

1st year Music Module

All 1st year students will undertake a 3-4 week music module before Christmas.
The short module will include:

The basics in music notation
Musical genres
Songs and lyrics
Beginning guitar

Junior Certificate
Music syllabus

General Outline:

The course has been designed to enable all students to acquire musical skills suited to their age, varying abilities and musical experiences.
An effort has been made to broaden the scope of the syllabus and, where appropriate, to allow for greater diversification. A portion of the work is prescribed for set study.
This course in Junior Cycle Music has been specifically devised to suit the entire range of student aptitude and ability.

To advance the musical skills and concepts acquired at Primary level so that all pupils, including the very talented and those with special needs, can engage in worthwhile musical activities enjoyably and profitably.
To promote through creative involvement in music and the pursuit of excellence the development of personality.
To develop musical sensitivity and the critical and imaginative faculties.
To encourage social awareness and an understanding of the artistic views of others through musical activities.
To develop aural perception in its broadest sense and to foster awareness and an appreciation of the music of the past and of the present, and of its role in our own culture as well as other environments.


To facilitate the development of performing skills at an appropriate level by providing opportunity for the regular practice of vocal and/or instrumental music. Performing may be either school-based or the result of private tuition and may be practised individually or in a group.
To provide sufficient musical experience and factual information to enable the students to develop and practise listening skills. In the course of their study, students will acquire sufficient knowledge and experience to answer questions on prepared, as well as unprepared, songs and recorded works.
To help students develop composing skills with greater understanding and interest. Students will be involved in either the composing of melodic phrases and an introduction to elementary harmony OR free composition.
To aid students in acquiring a musical language so they can successfully describe music with intellectual depth and to illustrate the relationship between sound and symbol.
The course content can be perceived more clearly when outlined in terms of the precise examination requirements in the three main areas outlined above (performing/listening/composing).

Course content and exam

Below is a breakdown of the Junior Certificate music course and marking scheme

In total there are 400 marks for the Junior Certificate Music examination

The practical examination is worth 100 marks (25%) and takes place around Easter.
Higher level students perform 4 pieces and attempt an unprepared test
Ordinary level students prepare 2 pieces and attempt an unprepared test

The written paper is worth 300 marks (75%) of the total and takes place in June. The first part of the paper is an aural test and the later part tests the students’ skills in composition.

Question 1: Set songs – 30 marks
Students will study 8 songs that cover an array of genres
Question 2: Set works – 30 marks
Students will study 3 pieces of music
Question 3: Irish music – 40 marks
Students will study Irish Traditional Music
Question 4: Dictation – 40 marks
Students will study how to write down a melody from hearing it
Question 5: Choice songs and works – 40 marks
Students will study other songs and pieces and learn how to analyse and comment on music that they have not studied.

Question 6: Triads – 20 marks
Students will study about harmony and chords
Question 7: melody writing – 35 marks
Students will learn how to write an original melody
Question 8: harmony writing – 45 marks
Students will learn how to add chords to a melody

General study
Question 10: general study – 20 marks
Students will study a chosen topic – the songs of The Beatles

Transition Year Music

All transition year students undertake a 7-week music module, consisting of two 40-minute classes per week.

The course is designed to accommodate students who may have no musical background and to challenge students who have a solid musical background.

The overall aim of the module is to:

Broaden the student’s academic understanding of music and to enrich their enjoyment of music
To encourage students to develop an appreciation of the broader cultural and historical significance of music

The objective of the module is to incorporate the basic elements of music into the class:

Musical language

1 – 2 weeks will be spent on the following music topics:

Aural skills
Listening skills and music analysis
Students will learn about different styles of music and instruments from around the world

Music notation
Basics in reading and writing music
Students will learn about the treble and bass clefs, the notes on the lines and spaces, note values, bar lines, time signatures and to learn how to write basic melodies

Film music appreciation
Basics about applying music to the medium of film
Students will learn about the relationship between music and film, film composers, stylistic features of film music and great film music moments

Music technology
An introduction to the process of recording and producing music
Students will learn about how a music CD is recorded and produced; hardware, software, digital recording techniques, mixing and mastering

Music performance
Students will be encouraged to participate in practical music classes; either by singing or playing an instrument. Students who cannot play an instrument may be given the opportunity to learn the basics in guitar.

Leaving Certificate
Music syllabus

To foster an appreciation of the cultural and expressive qualities of music.
To value, through participation, musical creativity and the social sharing of music.
To encourage the enjoyment of music through listening to recorded and live musical events.
To cultivate an awareness of and a respect for the artistic views of others.
To develop an awareness of the economic and vocational value of music.
To encourage excellence in a variety of musical activities.

To provide continuity and progression in the skills acquired through the Junior Certificate syllabus in music, consistent with individual and special needs.
To provide a general education in music for all students, whether or not they proceed to further study or a career in music.
To encourage the development of musical creativity, sensitivity and potential through active involvement in performing, composing and listening to music.
To cultivate musicality and its expression to develop an informed interest in music and the enjoyment of music-making.
To develop the critical and imaginative faculties.


To provide opportunities for students to practise their instrument(s) for solo performance and/or in groups.
To provide opportunity for the regular practice in composing skills for melody writing and harmony at an appropriate level consistent with individual differences, needs, and interests.
To explore a wide variety of musical styles and genres, including music from the past and the present, Irish music and prescribed set works and to develop their listening skills
To aid students in acquiring a musical language so they can successfully describe music with intellectual depth and to illustrate the relationship between sound and symbol.