Music

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”

Plato

Entry requirements

Automatic entry onto Level 3 courses includes students achieving 4 x Grade 9-4 or equivalent at GCSE alongside a Grade 4 or above in English and/or Mathematics. Students with either English and/or Mathematics at Grade 3 or below will have individual meetings to determine the most suitable pathway within the Sixth Form.

As well as the general entry requirements for the Sixth Form, we would recommend that students applying for this course have a grade 5 or above in GCSE Music or play an instrument at Grade 5 standard – Associated Board or equivalent and read music competently.

Course description

This new A Level course will allow students to develop knowledge and understanding of many different styles of music, through in-depth study and analysis. It brings listening, performance and composition to life in new and engaging ways, and links to the world around us.

Every student has different learning styles and musical tastes, which is why our A Level course values all music styles, skills and instruments. This course will broaden students’ minds and foster a love of all music with a qualification that students of all abilities and backgrounds will enjoy. This course allows students to develop particular strengths and interests and encourages lifelong musical learning.

The Subject content is divided into three components:

For this specification learners must choose either Option A in both Components 1 and 2 or Option B in both Components 1 and 2. All learners must study Component 3.

Component 1: Performing

  • Option A: 35% of qualification
  • Option B: 25% of qualification
  • Non-exam assessment: externally assessed by a visiting examiner

Component 2: Composing

  • Option B: 35% of qualification
  • Option A: 25% of qualification
  • Non-exam assessment: externally assessed by WJEC

Component 3: Appraising Written examination: 2 hours 15 minutes 40% of qualification

Performance Opportunities

In addition to practical work in class and the extra-curricular programme, you will have many opportunities to perform in:

  • Concerts throughout the year in School and in external venues such as York Minster
  • School Shows
  • Visits to festivals, competitions, and playing in the community
  • Master classes with visiting professional musicians

Exam board

Past papers

Assessments

Component 1: Performance

Option A: Total duration of performances: 10-12 minutes

Option A: 35% of qualification

A performance consisting of a minimum of three pieces. At least one of these pieces must be as a soloist.

Option B: Total duration of performances: 6-8 minutes

Option B: 25% of qualification

A performance consisting of a minimum of two pieces either as a soloist or as part of an ensemble or a combination of both.

Within the performance module students will develop instrumental technique and the ability to interpret the performance details of their chosen pieces.

Component 2: Composition

Option A: Total duration of compositions: 4-6 minutes

Option A: 25% of qualification

Two compositions, one of which must reflect the musical techniques and conventions associated with the Western Classical Tradition and be in response to a brief set by WJEC.

The second composition is a free composition.

Option B: Total duration of compositions: 8-10 minutes

Option B: 35% of qualification

Three compositions, one of which must reflect the musical techniques and conventions associated with the Western Classical Tradition and be in response to a brief set by WJEC.

The second composition must reflect the musical characteristics of one different area of study (i.e. not the Western Classical Tradition) while the third composition is a free composition.

Component 3: Appraising Music

Three areas of study:

Area of study A:

The Western Classical Tradition (The Development of the Symphony 1750-1900) which includes two set works. Choose one set work for detailed analysis and the other for general study.

      • Symphony No. 104 in D major, ‘London’: Haydn
      • Symphony No. 4 in A major, ‘Italian’: Mendelssohn

A choice of one area of study from:

Area of study B: Rock and Pop

Area of study C: Musical Theatre

Area of study D: Jazz

Area of study E:

Into the Twentieth Century including two set works:

        • Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano, Movement II: Poulenc
        • Three Nocturnes, Number 1, Nuages: Debussy

Area of study F:

Into the Twenty-first Century including two set works:

        • Asyla, Movement 3, Ecstasio: Thomas Adès
        • String Quartet No. 2 (Opus California) Movements 1 (Boardwalk) and 4 (Natural Bridges): Sally Beamish

Questions:

        1. Set work analysis with a score
        2. Extended responses on wider context
        3. Unprepared extracts of music with and without a score
        4. Comparison questions

This component includes a listening examination.

What this course leads onto

An A Level in Music gives you a strong foundation for higher education in the subject and a career composing or performing music. Some students go on to work in the music industry for TV, radio or in companies, others go on to be music teachers or instrumental/vocal teachers or use their musical skills and knowledge in other careers, such as event management or leisure and tourism. This is both an academic and practical subject that will develop transferable analysis and essay writing skills and its relevance is not just limited to a musical degree or a career in Music.

Ways to help my child succeed

  • Performance, composition and analysis are of the highest importance. Students will need to practise their own instrument regularly and complete composing and written assignments.
  • It is expected you will already have a high level of music theory knowledge, be able to read staff notation fluently and have experience both studying and performing music. You will be required to complete an audition prior to enrolment.

Useful websites