Why study Music at A Level?
If you have a love of music, have been successful at GCSE and enjoy the academic study of music as well as a love of performing and composing then you would enjoy studying the subject A level. Study at A level would let you 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 or courses linked to the performing arts – such as musical theatre. The composition and analytical elements of A level music open up opportunities for studying composition or musicology at university. With a degree in music you would be able to choose from a very 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 but a few of the thirty-four potential music-related careers.
What will I study?
- 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 THREE Areas of Study over the two years: Western Classical Tradition 1750-1900, Jazz 1920-1960, Into the 20th Century
- You will develop your ability to identify, analyse and compare musical styles and features within contrasting pieces of music and relate them to their stylistic and historical context.
- You will make use of your music performance skills, giving a performance as either a soloist, within an ensemble or a mixture of both.
- You will compose three pieces of music: one in any style/genre of your choice, one composed to a set brief chosen from a choice of four set by the exam board but related to the Western Classical Tradition, one related to one other Area of Study. You will develop your understanding of harmony, tonality, texture, rhythm, sonorities and melodic development, and how to structure your ideas successfully. You will also develop your existing skills in the use of music technology when composing.
How will I be assessed?
- Your performances will be assessed externally by a visiting examiner between March and April of the Spring Term of your second year
- Each of your compositions will be assessed externally
- Your understanding of historical context and of the different periods, style, genres of music will be assessed externally via a written appraisal paper in June of the second year consisting listening analysis of familiar and unfamiliar musical extracts, detailed written comparisons and contextual analysis essays related to each of the three chosen Areas of Study and the related set works studied.
- It is essential to have previously completed GCSE music and to have gained at least a B grade.
- It is preferable to have already 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.
- You will need to be a minimum of Grade 6 in standard by the time you take the Performance exam in the Spring Term of the second year – therefore on-going instrumental lessons are not only highly recommended, but essential and expected at A level, since the Performance aspects tend to have a crucial baring on final course results.
- It is preferable to already have gained Grade 5 Music Theory. If not students are expected to attend the music theory lessons provided for free.
Any students who have not taken GCSE music must be of at least Grade 6 standard (instrument or voice) and have taken Grade 5 Music Theory to be even considered for the course. Such students will be required to perform a short audition to gauge their suitability and the Department reserves the right to refuse entry to the course.
Costs of Instrumental lessons are not born by the Department / School, although in special circumstances some supportive funding is available for music students to enable lessons to proceed. The Department provides all course booklets, notes and scores without cost to students / parents. Occasionally the Department recommends and coordinates attendance at professional public concerts locally / regionally. Related ticket and travel costs are not covered by the Department – although students do benefit from heavily discounted ticket prices.
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