What does the course involve?

The AQA A-Level music course offers students the opportunity to develop their musical understanding to a high level and explore different aspects of analysis, performance and composition in a wide range of musical styles.


Component 1: Appraising Music (40%)

A Level Music offers the opportunity to investigate with curiosity the inner workings of a piece of music. Pupils learn how to analyse and interpret the elements at play within a diverse range of pieces by honing their listening and identification skills. This component is tested by listening examination in May/June of the final year of the course. Pupils learn how to analyse by ear and from a score; dictate a section of music, and to write in depth about the musical elements and historical context in an extended essay.


What is studied?

-Western Classical Tradition 1650-1910- Baroque Solo Concerto, Mozart Opera and Romantic Piano Music (compulsory module)

-AOS5: Jazz- Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Pat Metheny and Gwilym Simcock (elective module)

-AOS7: Art Music since 1910 - Shostakovich, Messiaen, Reich and MacMillan (elective module)


Component 2: Performance (worth 35% of final grade)

Students will perform a varied selection of pieces which display different performance skills in a recital on any instrument or voice, lasting no less than 10 minutes. Pupils must prepare their recital pieces throughout Year 12 and 13 with the support of an instrumental or vocal teacher so they are ready to perform for a recording with a small audience around Easter of Year 13.  Performances will be solo with or without accompaniment on the piano. Pupils must perform at ABRSM Grade 6 standard or above for A Level Music.


Component 3: Composition (25%)

Composition will be taught and practiced throughout the two years of the course and is an excellent opportunity for pupils to develop musical creativity and flair. By the Easter of Year 13, pupils must have finished one free composition in a style of their choice (started in Year 12) and one Bach chorale harmonization in Year 13. Compositions must be a minimum of 4 ½ minutes combined.


What qualifications do I need?

A confident pass at GCSE music is important. Candidates must also be able to perform pieces to ABRSM grade 6 standard or above by the end of Year 12 (although they needn’t have taken the examination). A solid foundation of Music Theory (working at or towards Grade 5) is also highly recommended.


Pupils must have use of their own instrument at home to practice for performance. A good quality pair or headphones or speakers to complete listening and appraising tasks at home.


Future Prospects

A level Music is a highly regarded subject, either alongside other creative courses or as a foil to scientific or mathematical subjects. Music can lead to any number of Arts faculty courses at University or is a respected A Level to lead on to Medicine or Science subjects.

A Level Music can lead to a range of exciting career options both within and without of the musical field. Specific musical careers include: music publisher, sound technician, music therapist, composer, arranger, professional performer, music academia, music teacher, arts administration and events management. 

Videos from the Department

Mrs Welburn-Kelly, Head of Music, discusses the A-level Music course, what topics are covered, how you are assessed and the types of trips and activities you should expect!