By choosing to study A-Level Music, you will develop performance skills in music (solo and/or ensemble) and you will learn about a number of musical concepts. You will also engage in and develop an appreciation of the diverse and dynamic heritage of music.
Before starting on A-Level Music, you may require some musical understanding, such as completing GCSE music, as well as possessing skill in either instrumental or vocal performance.
A specific arrangement of units is required for certification, made up of three AS-Level units and three A2 level units. You will study six units and the assessment for A-Level Music is by composition, performance and exam. You will also demonstrate aural skills.
Over the course, you will undergo at least 360 guided learning hours over a two-year period. These guided learning hours are levels set by the government on how much time the tutor at your sixth form or college has to be present to give guidance (such as lectures, tutorials etc.) towards your award.
- AQA AS-Level Music
The first unit, Influences on Music will allow you to acquire, explore and apply musical language to two of the following areas:
- The Western Classical Tradition (compulsory)
- Choral Music in the Baroque Period
- Music Theatre: a study of the Musical from 1940 to 1980
- British Popular Music from 1960 to the present day
In Creating Musical Ideas, you will be able to focus on one of the three areas:
- Compositional techniques
- Free composition or pastiche in response to a given genre
In the third unit, Interpreting Musical Ideas, you have the opportunity to perform as solo or as part of an ensemble with voice of any instrument.
- Edexcel AS-Level Music
The Performing Music Unit offers you the opportunity to perform as a soloist or as part of an ensemble, with either your voice or any instrument. In the second unit, Composing, you will produce a three minute piece and CD sleeve note in response to a brief. In Developing Musical Understanding, you will develop knowledge of how music works, by listening and studying scores. You will also develop understanding of harmonic and tonal features.
- WJEC AS-Level Music
In Performing, you will present a piece of solo or ensemble music with voice or any instrument. In Composing, you will produce two contrasting compositions, one of which will reflect the Western Classical Tradition; the second will be a free composition. In the third unit, Appraising, you will focus on musical, structural, expressive and contextual aspects of set works.
- CCEA AS-Level Music
Making and Appraising Music will allow you to develop knowledge, understanding, skills and sensitivity to music. You will focus on composing, performing, listening and appraising. In Responding to Music, you will develop your aural skills through involvement in composition performance, listening and appraising.
- OCR AS-Level Music
In performing Music, you have the opportunity to perform as a soloist as well as perform on a second instrument of voice, or perform as part of a duet, as an accompanist or in an ensemble. In Composing 1, you will submit a portfolio of work that focuses on the language of Western tonal harmony and instrumental techniques. In the Introduction to Historical Study in Music unit, you will focus on a number of different recordings.
- University of Cambridge International Examinations AS-Level Music
In Listening (Music of the Western Tradition) you will study in detail ‘First Viennese School (1770-1827) and Picturing Music. In the Practical Musicianship, you will perform a variety of compositions as a soloist, in a duet or an ensemble.
The A2 Music is the equivalent of the second year of study of A-Level Music. This is not a separate award. The A2 –Level Music with the AS-Level Music makes up the A-Level Music. The A2-Level Music will further develop your knowledge from AS-Level Music.
- AQA A2 Music
In Music in Context, you will focus in detail on two of the following topics:
- The Western Classical Tradition (compulsory)
- English Choral Music in the 20th century
- Chamber Music from Mendelssohn to Debussy
- Four decades of Jazz and Blues 1910–1950
In the second unit, Developing Musical Ideas, you will demonstrate that you can create and develop musical ideas with expressive understanding and technical control. You will complete one of the following briefs:
- Compositional techniques
- Free composition or pastiche in response to a chosen brief
In the third unit, Musical Performance, you will produce two or more contrasting pieces to form a short programme of music.
- Edexcel A2 Music
In Extended Performance, you will perform a 12-15 minute piece as a solo or ensemble. In Composition and Technical Study, you will compose a piece in response to a brief and you will develop your technical knowledge. In Further Musical Understanding, you will focus on musical features and learn how to compare and contrast, contextualise and identify features of music.
- WJEC A2 Music
In Performing, you will demonstrate your musical skills in a performance in which you demonstrate contrasting styles. In Composing, you will submit two contrasting styles of composition that allow you to demonstrate harmonic progressions and relationships as well as styles. In Appraising, you will focus on specific styles of music.
- CCEA A2 Music
In Making and Appraising Music, you will develop your knowledge and skills from the AS units by producing a composition, In Responding to Music, you will be tested on your aural perception abilities around musical elements, structure and resources across a variety of styles, genres, periods and traditions.
- OCR A2 Music
In Performing Music 2 (Interpretation), you have the opportunity to perform a recital and in Composing 2, you will produce a portfolio that focuses on stylsirtic techniques and an original composition. In Historical and Analytical Studies in Music, you will develop your aural skills as well understanding of vocal music. You will also study one of the following historic topics:
- Programme Music
- Music for Screen
- Music and Belief
- Music for the Stage
- Popular Music
- University of Cambridge International Examinations A-Level Music
This is a separate award to the AS-Level. In Listening (Music of the Western Tradition), you will study in detail ‘First Viennese School (1770-1827) and Love and Loss. In the Practical Musicianship, you will perform a variety of compositions as a soloist, in a duet or an ensemble. In Performing, you will focus on a piece of music from any tradition, and in Composing, you will produce one piece, or a group of smaller pieces as a whole for voice, instrument or combination.
A-Level Music Exam Board Information
- The AQA A-Level Music specification is available on the AQA website.
- The specification for the WJEC AS and A-Level Music is available here.
- The CCEA AS-Level and A-Level Music specification is available on their website.
- The Edexcel AS and A-Level Music specification is available from their website.
- The OCR specification is available here.
- The University of Cambridge International Examinations specifications are available here.
Most people study A-Level Music so that they can study Music or Music-based subjects such as Digital Music, Music Technology, Music Performance or Music Recording at university. A number of degrees will focus on particular aspects of music, such as jazz and if you are looking to progress to university, you should consider what aspects of music you prefer to focus on. Other career opportunities include performing, teaching, music publishing or promotion.
Other Useful Information
- Edexcel past papers and exemplar materials are available on their website.
- AQA past papers for A-Level Music are available on their website.
- Past papers and a student guide are available on the CCEA website.
- WJEC have a variety of past papers available.
- There is a selection of past papers on the OCR website.
- University of Cambridge International Examinations past papers are available here.
- The Times Educational Supplement has links for a wide variety of Music Resources.
- A-Level Music students may find this site useful for listening revision.