Subject Leader
Mr Hopkinson
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Aims of the course

  • To further instil and develop a passion for music.
  • To develop personal expression through performance, creativity through composition and academic analysis through studying set works.
  • To study a wide range of musical genres over the last 500 years and to learn how to analyse and write about them in relation to the musical elements.
  • To develop many skills as a musician through applying the knowledge of the course to composition and performance. The course is quite an interlinked musical process and will help you develop many aspects of musicianship simultaneously.
  • To develop transferable skills such as confidence, teamwork, independent learning, creative thinking and personal expression.

Course Content

Component 1

Students have to perform a recital with a minimum of 8 minutes in length. The pieces to make up the recital can be in any style and can be solo, ensemble or a combination but should be a minimum of ABRSM Grade 6 level.

Component 2

Students must compose two pieces. The first must be a piece with a minimum duration of 4 minutes. They can either compose from a brief set by the exam board or they can do a completely free composition. The second composition is set by the board and will assess specific compositional techniques, mainly Bach Chorale, and should be no shorter than 1 minute in duration.

Component 3

Students have to complete a 2 hour written examination. The aim is to show their understanding of musical elements, context and musical language. They have to apply their knowledge through a study of six areas of study, each with three set works. They also have to be able to apply their knowledge to unfamiliar works and this will be taught through learning how to date and contextualise a piece of music. The exam paper is split into two sections Section A and Section B. In Section A, students have to answer three listening questions on the set works they have studied. In Section B the students have to answer two essay questions. Essay 1 requires them to listen to an unfamiliar set work and compare it with a familiar one. Essay 2 is from a choice of three questions based on the set works they have studied.


60% of the course is examined through controlled assessment and 40% is examined through a final written examination. Details of the controlled assessment requirements and the final examination are outlined above in the course content section.  All controlled assessment work and exam work is marked 100% externally.

Component 1: Performing Music (30%)

Component 2: Composing Music (30%)

Component 3: Appraising Music (Listening and Analysis) (40%)

Career Opportunities

The transferable skills that are developed in the study of music will allow access to a range of career opportunities in addition to the more obvious ones. Some of the possible career paths are:

  • Working as a performer (orchestral, solo, in a band, theatre, DJ’ing etc)
  • Composing for film, TV, computer games and or other projects
  • Teaching (classroom, private tuition, instrumental tuition, group classes, conducting/musical direction)
  • Self-Employment/Business owner (running an agency, events company, studio etc)
  • Working at a music specific venue (ie, Sage Gateshead)

The skills developed through studying A Level Music are applicable to many aspects of Higher Education and indeed work. They encourage analytical thinking supported with examples and opinions. Regardless of your University course choice many establishments recognise the serious academic nature of Music along with the creativity students have to develop and it is deemed a very credible qualification to have with many transferable skills.