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Leaving Cert Music Practical

The performance component of the course involves preparing a programme of music to perform for an examiner who will visit your school around Easter of sixth year. Performance activities can include

  • Singing and/or playing solo
  • Singing or playing as a member of a musical group
  • Conducting a musical group

Higher level students are expected to perform three songs or pieces, ordinary level students must perform two songs or pieces. Higher level students may perform two ordinary level activities (e.g. two songs each on two instruments) if they prefer.

Performance Elective

The most popular elective by far is performance. Higher level students wishing to perform for their elective must prepare a twelve minute programme (usually six songs or pieces for one performing activity or four each for two). Alternatively, within the performing elective is music technology. Music technology involves learning to use one of a range of music software and demonstrating your knowledge of that programme to the examiner on the day of the performance exam. Higher level students can opt to prepare four songs or pieces and then do music technology to make up 200 marks in performing. Within the music technology option there are many options. Refer to the music syllabus, examinations.ie and/or ask your teacher for guidance.


Here are some tips on taking the practical exam that are relevent for all levels:

  • This is a performance exam. It is not a "how high is your standard on your instrument" exam. You will be marked according to your own standard, not against anyone elses
  • Overall presentation is important – you should consider the exam to start the moment you walk in the door so walk in with confidence and a smile. Practice walking in and out of a room standing tall, looking confident and greeting the examiner.
  • There is no need to wait for the examiner to give you the go-ahead to begin the next piece – this is your performance. Imagine the examiner is an audience at your concert. Begin and continue in your own time.
  • Have all of your music ready and in order – you shouldn't be shuffling about with books and papers in the middle of the exam.

Unprepared tests

Every student must choose one unprepared test to do in the exam. The options are:

  • Sight-Reading
    For Junior Cert. you must sight-read an eight-bar piece on your instrument. For Leaving Cert. you can choose to sight-read an eight bar rhythm and clap it or and eight-bar piece on your instrument.
  • Aural Memory - Melody or Rhythm
    The examiner will play an eight-bar melody and you must sing (melody) or clap (rhythm) it back. You must specify which you would like to do before the examiner plays.
  • Improvisation

Examples are available on www.examinations.ie