Examining Board

Course Introduction
This qualification has been redesigned to reflect the demands of a truly modern and evolving music environment. It enables students to apply themselves and gives them the skills to succeed. The qualification has a straightforward three part structure involving performing coursework, composing coursework and one examined listening paper appraising eight set works. As part of the course, the College will pay for 6 term’s worth of music lessons on one instrument of the student’s choice to help them with the performing component. This has a current monetary value of £1,050.00. Composition work is completed using ‘Sibelius’ music software in a computer suite. Overall, this subject is very practically based and can be a very enjoyable contrast to other more essay dependant subjects chosen by students. The teacher/student ratio is usually very good in this subject, which has a very positive influence on outcomes.

Paper 1 Performing - Internally assessed/externally moderated (30% of the overall mark)
Paper 2 Composing - Internally assessed/externally moderated (30% of the overall mark)
Paper 3 Listening and Appraising - Written paper externally assessed, 1 hour 45 minutes (40% of overall mark)

The Music Industry including performers, composers, educators, sales/promotions, arts administrators, journalism, sound engineers, recording engineers, producers, acousticians.

Course Content

Area 1 : Instrumental Music 1700 - 1820  
J.S Bach: 3rd Mvt, Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D Major
Beethoven: 1st Mvt, Piano Sonata in C Minor ‘Pathetique’

Area 2: Vocal Music
Purcell: Music for a while
Queen: Killer Queen (Sheer Heart Attack)

Area 3:  Music for Stage and Screen
Schwartz: Defying Gravity (Cast of recording of Wicked)
Williams: Main Title: Rebel Blockade Runner (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope)

Area 4: Fusions
Afro Celt Sound System: Release (Volume 2:Release)
Esperanza Spalding: Samba Em Preludio (Esperanza)

Contact Name
Mr A Day – Director of Music

Contact Email

A Level

This course is ideally suited to musicians with an interest in both popular and classical music. It caters for students with a range of musical backgrounds and provides opportunities to develop skills in performance, composition and musical analysis. Each unit can be tailored to suit the needs of the individual. The College will provide free instrumental tuition towards the compulsory performance element of the course for five terms. Students are expected to join in the extra-curricular music provision at the College as this is an integral part of the course.

Coursework/Examination Requirement

A mix of performance, listening and written examinations.

The College expects students to have

Grade 6 in Music, or above or good practical ability with Grade 5 theory. The ability to read music is also required.


Music A Level can be a stepping stone to becoming a professional musician or to associated careers such as recording, broadcasting, theatre, film, journalism and arts administration. It also provides the opportunity to pursue an interest in music to a higher level.

Course Content

Unit 1: Extended Performance (30%/60 marks) - Non examined assessment: externally assessed

A public performance of one or more pieces performed as a recital. The performance can be playing or singing solo, in an ensemble, improvising, or realising music using music technology. 

The total performance time across all pieces must be a minimum of 8 minutes. 

Unit 2: Composing and Technical Study (30%/60 marks) - Non examined assessment: externally assessed

Total of two compositions, one to a brief set by Pearson and one either free composition or also to a brief. One composition must be from either a list of briefs related to the areas of study, or a free composition, carrying 40 marks for this unit. This composition must be at least 4 minutes.

One composition must be from a list of briefs assessing compositional technique, carrying 20 marks for this component. This composition must be at least 1 minute in duration, unless the brief specifies a longer minimum duration.

Total time across both submissions must be a minimum of 6 minutes.

Unit 3: Further Musical Understanding (40%/100 marks) - Written examination: 2 hours

Knowledge and understanding of musical elements, contexts and language.

Application of knowledge through the context of six areas of study, each with three set works. 

Vocal Music: J.S. Bach, Cantana, Ein feste Burg; Mozart, The Magic Flute; Vaughan Williams, On Wenlock Edge.

Instrumental Music: Vivaldi, Concerto in D Minor, Op. 3 No. 11; Clara Wieck-Schumann, Piano Trio in G Minor, Op. 17: movement 1; Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique.

Music for Film: Danny Elfman, Batman Returns; Rachel Portman, The Duchess; Bernard Herrmann, Psycho.

Popular Music & Jazz: Courtney Pine, Back in the Day; Kate Bush, Hounds of Love; Beatles, Revolver.

Fusions: Debussy, Estampes; Familia Valera Miranda, Cana Quema; Anoushka Shankar, Breathing Under Water.

New Directions: Cage, Three Dances for Two Prepared Pianos; Kaija Saariaho, Petals for Violoncello and Live Electronics; Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring.

Curriculum Learning Journey

Curriculum Overview

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