Leaving Cert music: few bum notes in exam which featured Queen, The Beatles, Tchaikovsky and Bach

Students were presented with a mix of original and covered Beatles tunes, including Eleanor Rigby, Blackbird and Come Together

Leaving Cert students sat the written music exam on Thursday. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

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The higher-level music paper was fair, with reasonable challenges in clearly identifiable sections, teachers have said.

Ciara Coleman, a music teacher at the Institute of Education, said that students would be mostly happy with balanced and user-friendly listening paper.

“While there is no doubt that there will have been an initial groan to see Gerald Barry’s Piano Quartet No 1 as the focus of Question 1 (worth 25 marks), this question was in fact very manageable for students who had really put in the effort to get to grips with the various sections of this work,” said Ms Coleman.

“While some of the C sections of the Barry question often trip students up on account of sounding somewhat similar, the C sections featured here were instantly recognisable, as were the other sections featured in the question.”


Nicole Cooney, ASTI subject representative for music and a teacher at Maryfield College in Drumcondra, Dublin, said that students were surprised not to see sean-nós on the paper, but glad to see question one of the composing section feature the melody in a major key.

“That said, the three-four time signature may have thrown some students. The harmony questions were in a minor key, but had a tricky bassline.”

Ms Coleman said that the remaining set works were manageable and designed to reward students.

“While some students may have been surprised to see that the Bach question focused mainly on the chorale, there was a chance to demonstrate their knowledge of movement one at the end of this question.

“The remaining focus on instrument identification and cadences will have settled the nerves, as will the chance given to provide an explanation of the Tierce de Picardie at the end of the chorale.”

Among the artists featured on this year’s paper were Queen, The Beatles, Tchaikovsky and Bach.

“The Queen question was similarly fair with a focus on features of the accompaniment and word painting in verse two” said Ms Coleman.

“A small dictation concluded this question and students who listened carefully to the previous two bars will have found clues there for the taking.”

In the aural section, Ms Cooney said that students faced a fair tests of their skills and did not feature anything unexpected.

Ms Coleman said that students were presented with a mix of original and covered Beatles tunes, including Eleanor Rigby, Blackbird and Come Together.

“Students will have been relieved that there was no dictation included in this question, with a focus instead on features of accompaniment, time signatures and texture,” said Ms Coleman.