Course Overview

The National 5 Music course builds on the work done in S3 Music. As well as engaging pupils in performing activities and providing them with a wide range of Composing and Understanding Music experiences, it also provides opportunities to enhance their literacy and numeracy skills. 

Course Content

The course consists of three units – Performing, Composing and Understanding Music.  


Performance based activities either solo or in a group on two instruments of their choice.

They will also study topic based activities such as World Music; Scottish Music; Blues & Jazz Music; Music from Earlier Times and Rock & Pop music.

Teacher-led discussion, cooperative group work and formative assessment strategies are used to give pupils the opportunity to demonstrate and improve their performing skills and knowledge about music.


Performing Skills has one outcome which is assessed at appropriate times during the course.  This outcome involves performing music in a range of music styles by:

1.1           Developing musical and technical skills, showing clear understanding of the composers’ intentions

1.2           Self-reflecting on the quality and accuracy of their playing and performing, and identifying personal strengths and areas for improvement

Composing Skills has one outcome which is assessed at appropriate times during the course.  This outcome involves creating original music by:

1.1           Understanding how a range of compositional methods and music concepts are used by composers and the influences on their work

1.2           Experimenting and using music concepts and compositional methods in creative ways to develop refine and create original music

1.3           Developing musical ideas that make musical sense and realise their creative intentions

1.4           Self-reflecting on their music and their creative choices and decisions

Understanding Music has one outcome which is assessed at appropriate times during the course.  This outcome involves recognising and identifying music concepts and styles by:

1.1           Identifying and distinguishing between level-specific music concepts in excerpts of music

1.2           Identifying and analysing the social and cultural influences that have influenced the distinctive sounds and structure of specific music styles

1.3           Identifying and understanding the meaning of music signs, symbols and terms

In addition to the unit assessments, pupils also undertake coursework assessments for Performing and Understanding Music.  

The performing exam takes place in February or March of the exam year and is worth 60% of the pupil's final mark.  

The remaining 40% is achievable in the final external SQA exam.  In order to fully prepare pupils for success in the exam, they will undertake additional end-of-topic tests to re-inforce their knowledge and understanding of music concepts.  


The department supports a positive homework policy.

Homework is set regularly to support and consolidate classroom experiences. Some homework assignments will require pupils to carry out research in their own time. Pupils are expected to practise their instruments for 30 minutes at least 5 times throughout the week.

Recording and Reporting

The unit assessment outcomes form the basis for the comments in the pupil reports, issued to parents in Januray and March, while the S4 parents’ night in late January provides an opportunity to discuss successes and/or concerns.