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Leaving Cert Music

Studying for and revising Music can seem daunting - Music is not the same as English or Biology. A different but not difficult approach needs to be taken with music. While studying the music curriculum you are training your eyes and ears to see and hear features in music such as structure, themes, keys, texture, harmony, cadences and melodic features. In the composing paper you show your understanding of these elements and your ability to create them yourself. Here you will find the tools to help you prepare for the Leaving Cert. Music exam.

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Tips for the Leaving Cert Music Exam

  • Read the question - It's an obvious piece of advice and everyone is saying it but many, many students misread the question every year and lose marks unneccesarily. It is the cause of the most common mistakes I come across when I'm marking papers. Read carefully and underline key words. Some people find it helpful to make notes or write possible answers in the margin as a guideline, especially for questions that call for more than a few words in the answer
  • Answer the question - Never give more than you're asked for, you will be negative marked. If you're asked for two examples of something and give three answers, two of which are correct and one which is wrong you will be given +1 +1 and -1 marks, meaning you end up with one mark.
  • If asked to compare always mention both - If you're asked to compare two sections of music you must mention both in you answer i.e. Section A is accompanied by piano only while section B is accompanied by piano and guitar.
  • Bring a pencil and eraser for the composing paper and dictation parts of the listening paper. Music should always be written in pencil. Scribbling out mistakes in pen on a stave is really messy and makes your melody very difficult to read and mark.
  • Don't waffle - When I'm marking I often come across answers that are made up of complete waffle. This happens especially in the Irish Music written question. A marker can always tell if you don't know what you're talking about so save everybody some time and write short sentences that get to the point, if you don't know what your point is then come up with your best and most reasonable guess and write it in one or two sentences. Endless waffle never gets you more marks.
  • Save the flowery words for English - "The guitar solo is expressive and full of longing" or "The music makes me feel as though I'm floating on a beautiful cloud of perfect raindrops surrounded by swaying trees" are both worthless as drawing a diagram of a volcano in a music exam. Use only musical terms in your answers. Short sentences. Get to the point.