Extended Writing Questions

Extended writing questions

Each exam will contain only one extended writing question. This is a question usually worth 8-9 marks which is approximately 10% of the entire exam. Students are asked to write an extended paragraph - one A4 page - describing an extract of music.

Sometimes the question is linked to a theme and students must link their descriptive writing to that theme. For example 'this extract describes the movement of hens and chickens'. With this particular example students' responses must relate to how the music successfully represents the movement of the hens and chickens. This is the ONLY question in the listening exam where the quality of students' responses are also assessed.

There are other sub-questions elsewhere in the listening exam in which spelling, punctuation and grammar is also marked but these are typically worth much less, in total only 4-6 marks out of the whole paper.


What is the extended writing question? Watch the video FIRST before moving on to the practice resources below

Practice Resources

Before starting on practice questions you should explore the resources below first

Elements of Music

Clicking the link above will take you to the elements of music page

Listening to Repetoire (Mr Laviolette Spotify playlists)

Clicking the link above will take you to Mr Laviolette's Spotify playlists, which include several GCSE music playlists.

Listening to the styles of music you are to study is crucial to understanding HOW to write about them

Listening Exam Preparation Booklet

Clicking the link above will take you to the Listening Exam Preparation Booklet and all information about it

Practice Questions and Practice Exercises

Scroll down to see practice questions and how to create your own practice exercises related to the extended writing exam question

Extended Writing Guidance 2019.pdf

Extended Writing Guidance

Use the PDF guide sheet to the left to help you understand how to answer this type of question

Practice Exercise

Using any piece from the playlists available HERE on Spotify, listen to just a portion of the piece you choose from that playlist (1 min 15 seconds maximum, 40 seconds minimum) then using lined paper or your theory exercise book you make notes on the music using at least five of the elements of music headers. See below for an example:

Using the pop ballad 'Your Song' by Elton John as an example, you can write out a table, spider diagram or grid based on the following FIVE elements. I chose to simply list the five elements as it was easier for this website:

  • melody

  • structure

  • instrumentation

  • timbre

  • tempo

Again, above I have decided to simply list them. Make sure you leave room after or below each header to make notes. You can also write them out as a spider diagram, or as a table.

Then play the track. Make sure you only play part of it, just as you would listen to in an exam question - we call this an 'extract'. For this example, we shall play from the beginning to where the second verse begins, around 1:52 minutes of music.

Begin with focusing on one element at a time. I shall start with melody. You can keep replaying the track, but for the exam you eventually will need to work within time constraints such as hearing the track three times only. See below for the example of the practice exercise, focusing only on melody:

Melody - melody provided by male vocalist. Medium pitched, baritone to tenor. Spoken at times. Melismatic - more than one note per syllable. Uses fall-offs and slides. Melody repeated in chorus on lines 'I hope you don't mind, I hope you don't mind, if I put down in...'.

You would then do this for the next element, structure:

Begins with a 2 bar introduction on piano. Verse comes in with vocals. Verse consists of 2 A sections. Second A section has strings accompanying. Chorus follows.

You would then do this for the next element, instrumentation, then timbre and tempo.

You can then hand this in to your music teacher for marking and feedback.

The point of this exercise is to get you used to writing about music and hearing music with the elements in mind.

Extended Writing Practice Questions