Aims of the course:

  • Broaden knowledge and understanding of music and musical literacy by listening to music and identifying level specific music concepts, signs and symbols.
  • Create original music using compositional methods.
  • Perform music.

Performing Skills – on two instruments/one instrument & voice

Overall 12-13 minute programme and at least one instrument must be a minimum of 4 minutes

There must be a minimum of at least 2 contrasting pieces for each instrument at ABRSM Grade 4 or similar difficulty level.

Each piece will be marked out of 10 marks. Criteria as follows:

  • Melodic Accuracy and tuning
  • Rhythmic accuracy
  • Maintaining tempo and flow
  • Musicality through mood and tone
  • Dynamics

Overall mark is scaled to achieve final mark.

Controlled assessment – marked by SQA visiting examiner (February/March) and QA by SQA.

50% of total mark

Understanding Music

Question Paper /40 marks

Marks are awarded for:

  • Identifying and using concepts in a range of excerpts of music and styles.
  • Applying musical literacy.

The paper is set and marked by SQA and conducted in centres for external examination by SQA.

Mandatory concepts at National 5 are built upon previous knowledge. It is therefore recognised that all students will have a secure understanding of concepts at Nat 3 and Nat 4 also see full list of concepts for all levels on NQ website.  Question Paper is timetabled in May.

35% of total mark

Composing Skills

The purpose of the composing assignment is to explore and develop musical ideas to create music. The assignment is marked on the basis of the following two parts:

  • Composing one piece of music                  (20 marks)
  • Reviewing the composing process           (10 marks)

The composed piece may be in any style and must last between a minimum of 1 minute and a maximum of 3 minutes and 30 seconds.

For the composition candidates are required to:

  • Plan the assignment
  • Explore and develop musical ideas using at least four of the elements:


  • Create one complete piece of music

For the composing review, candidates are required to:

  • Provide a detailed account of the main decisions when exploring and developing their musical ideas
  • Identify strengths and areas which may be improved.

Your completed assignment must include all of the following:

  • An audio recording
  • A score or performance plan
  • A composing review

15% of total mark

Course Assessment

Performance              50%

Question Paper          35%

Composing                 15%

TOTAL – 100 marks

Grading – A – D