Music A Level

Departmental contact

Ms Harrisson – harrisson.w@myton.co.uk

Examining board & Qualification

EDUQAS – A LEVEL/AS LEVEL

You may be able to take Music AS level across 2 years in addition to your other subjects.

Entry requirements

Ideally grade 6 in GCSE Music plus proficiency on any instrument or voice; students with a high level of performing skills and theoretical knowledge without GCSE Music may be considered.

Ms Harrisson says

“Unlike more traditional A level Music courses, which tend to focus solely on Western art music, the Eduqas course enables students to study an additional area of interest (currently Rock and Pop).”

WHY STUDY THIS SUBJECT?

If you are passionate about music of any genre, want to develop your knowledge of how music works, explore a range of musical styles, perform and compose, then this is the subject for you.

You will learn more about Western art (“classical” orchestral) music from 1750 up to the present day, alongside one additional area of study (currently Rock and Pop). You will need a high level of performing ability on any instrument or voice (approximately grade 4/5 standard at the start of the course) and must be prepared to study musical theory including reading score notation if this is not already familiar to you.

WHAT SKILLS WILL I DEVELOP?

You will develop a range of skills, including honing your instrumental technique at a high level, developing your confidence through performing, and receiving expert feedback to improve your performance and presentation skills. Through regular class practice activities, you will learn to play music at sight or on minimal rehearsal, reading from score notation, tab and lead sheets, and will develop your ensemble and communication skills. You will learn to interpret a range of musical notations, including orchestral score notation (treble, bass, alto and tenor clefs), transposing instruments, and performance directions.

You will learn to analyse chord progressions, cadences and modulations, developing an in-depth understanding of music which will inform your own compositions. You will study the history of music with a focus on Western art music and the symphony and the development of one other genre (currently Rock and Pop).

WHAT WILL I STUDY?

The course is divided into three assessed components:

  • Component 1: Performing
  • Component 2: Composing
  • Component 3: Appraising

Students have the option to specialise in either performing or composing:

Option A: A final recital performance of at least 3 pieces lasting 10-12 minutes in total, 35% of the qualification plus a portfolio of two compositions lasting 4-6 minutes in total and a composing log, 25% of the qualification.

Option B: A final recital performance of at least 2 pieces lasting 6-8 minutes, 25% of the qualification plus a portfolio of three compositions lasting 8-10 minutes in total and a composing log, 35% of the qualification.

The remaining 40% of the qualification with either option is gained through a final written examination (listening paper).

YEAR 12

Students will study the history of Western art music, focusing on The Development of the Symphony 1750-1830 for Area of Study A: The Western Classical tradition. This will include the study of one set work: Symphony No. 104 in D major, ‘London’, by Haydn, an overview study of a second work (Symphony no 4 in A major ‘Italian’ by Mendelssohn) and composition exercises, in preparation for composition work in the classical style in Year 13.

Students will also begin to study Area of Study B: Rock and Pop 1960-2000 (including pop, rock, soul, funk and folk), which will be taught through a range of listening and practical activities, with regular opportunities to perform in class and experiment with composing in a range of related styles.

There will be a mock listening paper at the end of Year 12 which will test students on the Haydn set work as well as a range of unprepared listening examples from both the classical genre and Rock and Pop.

YEAR 13

The study of Western Art Music continues with Area of Study E: Into the Twentieth Century 1895-1935. Students will learn about developments in musical styles including impressionism, expressionism, serialism and neo-classicism, and will study two more set works in depth; Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano: Movement II by Poulenc and Three Nocturnes: No. 1 – Nuages by Debussy. Students will also deepen their knowledge of the classical and romantic symphonies and the set works studied in Year 12, as well as further developing their understanding of the optional area of study B, C or D.

Performance and compositional work will continue throughout the year, as students prepare for their final assessments in components 1 and 2. Having made the decision to specialise in either performance or composition, students will prepare for their final recital of solo and/ or ensemble performances and develop a portfolio of compositions. One of these will be in the Western classical style in response to a brief from a choice of four set by the exam board and released in early September; the remaining composition(s) can be in any style.

AS LEVEL

If you take AS level Music across two years, you will complete the work from Year 12 only.

HOW WILL I BE ASSESSED?

All assessment takes place in Year 13. The coursework components 1 and 2 are worth 60% of the overall A level. The performance component is assessed through a final recital in front of an external examiner in March/ April. The composition component is submitted in April for external moderation. The appraising component worth 40% is assessed through a 2 hour 15 minute listening paper in early May, with questions on the set works and on unprepared extracts from the Western art music tradition and and Rock and Pop.

WHAT ARE MY POST-18 OPTIONS?

The Music A level course offers a broad foundation for students wishing to continue their studies at university, college or conservatoire. The A level prepares students for courses with a historical/theoretical basis and those with a performing or composing emphasis including degree courses in Music, Popular Music or Jazz. An A level in Music can prepare students for a range of careers in music, including performance, composition, sound recording, music therapy, arts administration, events management, music journalism, publishing and education.

Music helps you to develop transferable skills including creativity, self-expression, critical thinking, discipline, communication, teamwork and confidence which are valuable in a range of professions. It also sits well alongside a range of other A level subjects such as English, Humanities, Maths and Science. It is also a wonderful way to meet new people with similar interests and can become a rewarding pastime for life.

What extra-curricular opportunities are there?

Students will be expected to take an active role in the music department through participation in and leadership of performing groups at Myton and take advantage of performance opportunities both in and out of school.

There will be concert trips and activities relevant to the course which may include a symphony or chamber music concert at Warwick Arts Centre or Symphony Hall Birmingham, Music Theatre performance trip, rock concert or jazz evening and workshops led by visiting professionals as appropriate.

Students are encouraged to make use of the department’s facilities during study periods and after school, including practice rooms, recording studio and Mac suite (Mac workstations running Sibelius and Logic).

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