Featured Advice
What are your interests?



The Linguistic's interests are usually focused on ideas and information exchange. They tend to like reading a lot, and enjoy discussion about what has been said. Some will want to write about their own ideas and may follow a path towards journalism, story writing or editing. Others will develop skills in other languages, perhaps finding work as a translator or interpreter. Most Linguistic types will enjoy the opportunity to teach or instruct people in a topic they are interested in.

Subject Choice

Leaving Certificate


Career Zone
NFQ Level
2 Years


Leaving Certificate Music involves a series of interrelated musical activities within each of the three core areas of musical experience - performing, composing and listening.

In performing, students choose from a variety of individual and/or group performing activities. In composing, students develop an understanding of musical structure and form, while the listening component provides for rich aural experiences through exposure to music of different periods, styles and genres.

Why Study Music

  • Students can get up to 50 per cent of the total marks in the musical activity that best suits their talent before they even sit the written paper
  • In music you can develop your talent and knowledge in this area and continue your studies in a wide range of colleges

What kind of student would Music suit?

  • Students who have shown an aptitude for music, such as by getting high grades in Junior Cert Music and are keen to develop and practice more.
  • If you can read music and have a competence in singing or playing an instrument
  • Anyone considering a career in a creative discipline such as singing, playing in a band, music production and performance technology and management.
  • Those interested in the rock and pop areas of music can develop their talents in a number of PLC courses in Rock and Jazz Music, including management.
  • Students who are looking for a break from intensive memory-work in their other subjects


  • Because of the practical nature of this subject, students and/or parents should discuss this with the senior level music teacher before choosing it as a Leaving Certificate subject.
This subject builds skills and knowledge that are particularly useful for careers in the following Career Sectors:

Grades Awarded

Marks Distribution 2019:

Listed below are the percentage distributions of marks from the 6234 students who sat the Higher Level Music exam in 2019.

Listed below are the percentage distributions of marks from the 425 students who sat the Ordinary Level Music exam in 2019.


Explore Marks Distribution for all Subjects:

Course Overview

The Leaving Certificate Music syllabus provides continuity and progression from Junior Certificate Music. The general aims and overall shape of both is broadly similar. In providing the musical knowledge, understanding, practical competencies and attitudes appropriate to their age, abilities and interests, the syllabus caters for the varying needs of all students including those who wish to pursue further studies in music. You do not need music to progress into a music course in college but, needless to say, it would help.

The syllabus structure has been adopted to provide a fully balanced musical experience central to which is the development of musicality. Studying music at Leaving Cert. provides a vital basis for further education in the area and if students are good at music they can gain valuable points in the Leaving Certificate.

Quick Facts

Performance - Examined in April of 6th year
Listening Paper - Examined in June of 6th year 90 minutes duration

Composition Paper -Examined in June of 6th year 90 minutes duration 

Course Content

The course consists of three main components: (1) Composing (2) Listening (3) Performance  

Ordinary level

Students will choose one of the three activities to represent 50 per cent, e.g.

  • Performing 50% Composing 25% Listening 25% or…
  • Performing 25% Composing 50% Listening 25% or…
  • Performing 25% Composing 25% Listening 50%

Higher level

Students will undertake additional studies (a Higher level elective in one of the three activities, e.g.: Performing 25% Composing 25% Listening 25% + One Higher level elective 25%.

This will allow Ordinary level and Higher level students to gain up to 50 per cent of the total marks in the musical activity that best suits their talent.


Musical Performance:

As mentioned above, you can choose to designate 50% of your assessment to musical performance. If you choose this option you have a few further options open to you:

Perform 6 pieces of music on one instrument


You can be examined on two instruments. If you choose this option you are required to perform fours pieces of music on each instrument.


You can choose to perform four pieces of music (25%) and be examined in Music Technology (25%). Music Technology involves inputting music into a software package on the computer and being able to perform music edits on it, e.g. add dynamics or tempo markings, or transpose the music. If you have good computer skills, this could be a nice option for you.

Exam Structure

Listening Paper 
Examined in June of 6th year
90 minutes duration
Four set works, Irish music and general listening skills.

Composition Paper  
Examined in June of 6th year
90 minutes duration                     
Melody writing and harmony

Examined in April of 6th year
Candidates may perform as a soloist or as part of a group or both.

Ordinary Level: 2 pieces on one instrument and one unprepared test.

Higher Level: 3 pieces on one instrument and one unprepared test
OR 2 pieces on each of two instruments and one unprepared test


Electives for extra 25%: Higher Level only Each candidate must choose one of the above components to study for this extra credit. The majority tend to opt for a Performance elective.

Listening Elective: The candidate must work on a music project over the course of 5th and 6th year. They must submit some work to the State Examinations Commission and sit an extra written paper in June.

Composition Elective: The candidate must undertake a large scale composition to be submitted to the Examinations Commission in their final year.

Performance Elective: This involves a more substantial performance during the examination period in April of 6th year.

Career Possibilities

Music is useful for media work or studies, primary teaching, sound engineering, public relations, library work, speech therapy, film, physical education, communications, production, performance and music at third level.

Note: Students are required to be able to read music to study this subject. Little knowledge of music theory or history is not a problem, but a working knowledge of a musical instrument (piano, guitar, voice etc.) is essential. 

Career Guidance

Subject Group: Artistic

These subjects involve developing creativity and the appreciation of the work of others. This involves learning the methods and techniques of the subject and producing your own work using these skills.

Required for 3rd Level?

For most music courses, your Leaving Cert results are not the only factor considered for entry. Different colleges have their own requirements. For example: to study Music in UCD an entrance test is given to all candidates and in Maynooth University applicants must sit an entrance exam, an interview and an audition.

Most music courses are considered “restricted application” this means that you must put your preferred course(s) on your list by the 1st February or by the date for the correction of errors. Late applications after 1st February will not be considered.

Make sure to research thoroughly the requirements of your preferred course.


This subject is not an essential requirement for any courses in the CAO system.


What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?

Megan McEvoy, Dancer
Aside from English, Irish and maths I did music, French, art and chemistry. I did business studies until the Junior Cert but dropped it then. Although I didn't enjoy business studies I really wish I had kept it on as had I known that I'd be self-employed in the future it would have helped me greatly in terms of tax, loans, self-marketing and starting a business.

Essentially I am now running a small business by being self-employed. While I didn't use French and ended up living in Spain for 4 years I do feel having had a second language in school made picking up Spanish easier for me and I was really willing to learn it. Music of course has helped greatly in my career as there is nothing worse than a dancer who has no sense of musicality. Music has always played a big part in my life and many teachers have commented on my strong sense of musicality through dance.

... View Full Interview

Caitriona Jackman, Planetary Scientist

For Leaving Certificate I did the usual English, Irish, Maths, then Physics which I loved, Chemistry which I wasn’t great at (kept breaking stuff in the practicals), French, Geography and Music as an extra. I really enjoyed English actually, and even though a lot of my job involves computer programming and some hard maths and physics, I still rely heavily on my writing skills.

As important as it is to have technical ability in my job, it is still crucial to be able to communicate any results I find. One of the main tasks for me is to write papers for scientific journals, and occasionally to write articles for a more general audience.

My French is also useful because I collaborate with several people from a lab in Paris and they like if I make an effort to speak a bit of French, even though my accent is very embarrassing!

... View Full Interview

Niamh Cacciato, Solicitor
I chose two languages in school- French and German. I had the choice of German or Art and Music. Most people chose Art and Music and there was only one class out of six classes of first year doing two languages. I believe that doing two languages improved my proficiency in language in general and my ability to learn new vocabulary and grasp new concepts.

I realised I was good at working out how to express myself in French and German and I always wanted to learn new words and phrases and this led me to then choose languages as two of my three subjects for an Arts Degree at third level. I knew that I would like to do French at university and then when I learnt that Italian was on offer I thought why not try something new! I also knew that Italian was similar to French as they are both Latin-based languages and I could guess some of the Italian vocabulary from my knowledge of French.

... View Full Interview

Career Articles

6 Tips to Break into the Fashion Industry
6 Tips to Break into the Fashion Industry
Posted by CareersPortal