Specification: AQA at AS
Why study Music?
If you have a love of music and have previously been successful at GCSE, then you would enjoy studying the subject at AS and A level. Study at A level would enable you to access a variety of higher education options available for the study of music; for example, the performance elements of the course open up opportunities for studying at one of the music colleges – such as jazz, classical, popular music or performing arts courses – such as musical theatre. The composition and analytical elements of A level music provide opportunities for studying composition or musicology at university.
With a degree in music you would be able to choose from a wide variety of music-related careers; for example in: music performance, music composition (film/television/ gaming), music therapy, music teaching, sound engineering, music publishing, musicology, arts management – to name a few.
What will I study?
At AS level, you will develop your understanding of the dimensions of music and your score/notation-reading skills through in-depth study of specified set works related to the two areas of study: ‘Western Classical Tradition’ and the ‘Popular song since 1960’. You will develop your ability to identify, analyse and compare musical styles and features within contrasting pieces of music and relate them to their historical context. (At A2 there are a different set of set works related to the ‘Western Classical Tradition’ plus a study of ‘Musical Theatre’ in the 20th & 21st centuries).
You will compose one three-minute long piece in any style/genre of your choice within a twenty hour timescale related to one brief chosen from: Vocal music, Small ensemble, Electronic music or Keyboard music. You will develop your understanding of harmony, texture, rhythm, timbre and melodic development, and how to structure your ideas successfully.
You will make use of your music performing skills, giving two different six to eight- minute performances during the course chosen from: performing as a soloist (instrumental/vocal), within an ensemble, as a soloist on a second instrument or multi-track sequencing using music-technology.
How will I be assessed?
At AS, your performances will be assessed internally and moderated externally. Your composition will be assessed externally.
Your understanding of different genres, styles and periods of music will be assessed externally via a written exam and a timed listening exam in June – based on both the selected set works studied and unfamiliar pieces of music.
It is essential to have previously completed GCSE music and to have gained at least a B grade. It is preferable to have achieved at least a Grade 4 in a performance exam (or to be able to perform at the equivalent standard) in singing or on an instrument. It is preferable to already have Grade 5 Music Theory.
On-going instrumental lessons are not only highly recommended, but essential at this level, since the performance aspects tend to have a crucial bearing on course results.