Music (A Level)
Why study Music?
This course is designed to develop students’ skills to a level appropriate for entry to relevant courses at university or specialist music colleges. More fundamentally, however, it provides an informed basis for a lifelong appreciation and enjoyment of music. This is a challenging course that draws on and develops a very wide range of academic and practical musical skills. Yet it also offers opportunities to gain excellent general academic skills in historical research, writing and presentation.
In addition to our general entry requirements, you must have: GCSE English – grade 4 n GCSE Music – grade 4 OR an equivalent level of musical experience (to be assessed by a member of the music teaching team at interview/enrolment)
You must also have or be close to achieving Grade 5 Music Theory and be able to read and write standard staff musical notation (both bass and treble clefs, not tab). You must also be able to play your main instrument to at least Grade 4 standard (rising to Grade 6/7 standard at the end of the second year). Basic music keyboard skills are also extremely useful.
The course explores Music through a close combination of performing, composing, listening and historical research. Studies focus on the diverse heritage of Western classical and popular traditions, although scope exists to engage with a wider range of music in the performance modules (including in some cases non-Western cultures).
Opportunities exist to develop creative skills using music technology, as well as through more traditional harmony, composition and instrumentation activities. Students will develop the skills necessary to research, analyse and reflect critically upon music through a wide range of practical, written and listening-based tasks. They will prepare detailed written essays on the music they study and undertake practical performance exams.
Career and Progression Opportunities
There are an incredible variety of degree-level courses in music-related subjects. Many include a strong performance element and these usually require a post-ABRSM Grade 8 level of performance and practical musicianship on entry (usually assessed at interview and audition). Most also require high levels of music theory, harmony and staff notation skills. These can lead to careers including teaching (instrumental/vocal or classroom), performing, academic research, journalism, music therapy, commercial composition, music publishing, arts administration, arts librarianship, theatre/performing arts work, music and media/multimedia production and sound design.
Course Structure and Assessment
This is a two-year course and the syllabus is divided into three components
Component 1: Performing Music A performance recital of no less than eight minutes which can be playing or singing solo, in an ensemble, improvising, or realising music using music technology.
(30% of total A Level. Practical examination to be recorded after 1st March in the second year and assessed externally.)
Component 2: Composing Students explore compositional practices and will submit a total of two compositions, one to a brief set by the exam board and one either free composition or also to a brief.
One composition must be from either a list of briefs related to the areas of study, or a free composition, carrying 40 marks for this component. This composition must be at least four minutes in duration.
One composition must be from a list of briefs assessing compositional technique, carrying 20 marks for this component. This composition must be at least one minute in duration, unless the brief specifies a longer minimum duration.
The total time across both submissions must be a minimum of six minutes.
(30% of total A Level. Externally assessed portfolio of two compositions. Assessed compositions are submitted in the second year of the course.)
Component 3: Appraising Students develop aural skills by listening to and studying a variety of pieces from six areas of study: Vocal Music, Instrumental Music, Music For Film, Popular Music and Jazz, Fusions and New Directions. Students prepare for the exam by focusing on a series of set musical as well as applying this knowledge to unfamiliar works.
(40% of total A Level. Externally assessed examination taken in May/June in the second year of the course.)
This subject can be combined with either A Level Music Technology or the BTEC Music Practice (Performing) Subsidiary Diploma.
In order to prepare for the various practical exams and coursework tasks it will sometimes be necessary for students to attend activities outside lessons. These sessions may be scheduled before, during or after students’ normal timetabled day or, occasionally during evenings or at weekends. Examination Board: Pearson Edexcel A