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This exciting music A level course offers students opportunities to study contemporary music as well as traditional musical components.

In this course you will develop your skills in performing, composing and developing musical understanding. You will encounter a great variety of music both from the western classical traditions and from numerous more contemporary genres and, in your own performing and composing, you will have the freedom to work in whichever style and genre interests you.


It is not necessary to have completed GCSE music though an understanding of music theory and a grade 6 level of competency on your principal instrument (or voice) is essential.


As a music student you will play a full part in the musical life of the school and take part in the extensive range of co-curricular activities throughout the year, with performances in school and outside.

Important Dates

All performance and composition coursework must be completed by Easter.

Course Outline

1) Performing 

You will perform as a soloist and you are free to choose music in any style on any instrument/voice at Grade 4 standard. You will take part in various performances throughout the course and can choose to focus on either performance or composition in your final assessment by choosing Option A or Option B.

Option A: Total duration of performances: 10-12 minutes
Option A: 35% of qualification

Option B: Total duration of performances: 6-8 minutes
Option B: 25% of qualification

This component is externally assessed by a visiting examiner.

2) Composing 

You will develop your compositional skills during the course in a wide range of styles using Sibelius or Dorico software to notate ideas and will complete two or three compositions depending on which option you choose. 

Option A: Total duration of compositions: 4-6 minutes
Option A: 25% of qualification

Option B: Total duration of compositions: 8-10 minutes
Option B: 35% of qualification

This component is externally assessed.

3) Listening and Appraising 

Written examination: 2 hours 15 minutes (approximately) 40% of qualification.

Three areas of study:

Area of Study A (compulsory unit): The Western Classical Tradition (The Development of the Symphony 1750-1900) which includes two set works: Symphony No. 104 in D major, 'London' by Haydn and Symphony No. 4 in A major, 'Italian' by Mendelssohn.  You can choose one set work for detailed analysis and the other for general study.

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

A choice of one area of study from:

Area of study E: Into the Twentieth Century including two set works: Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano, Movement II by Poulenc and Three Nocturnes, Number 1, Nuages by Debussy.
Area of study F: Into the TwentyFirst Century including two set works: Asyla, Movement 3, Ecstasion by Thomas Ades and String Quartet No. 2 (Opus California) Movements 1 (Boardwalk) and 4 (Natural Bridges) by Sally Beamish.


1. Set work within 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.

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