Music A level

Enjoyment for Life

Music is all around us, and in the words of Albert Einstein: “The greatest scientists are artists as well”.

The subject of music is unique – part art, part science. Which means it will help you build your problem solving, research, planning, analytical and critical thinking skills, as well as develop your creativity. Studying music can give you a great mix of social, technical and business skills, which can all help in acquiring the seven skills that define employability. While some of these skills are acquired by students of all subjects, for example, team work, good communication and self-management, music students have an edge. The experience of organising, hosting and performing in events that are open to the public provides them with skills beyond studying other subjects, for example, requiring knowledge of customer awareness, or interaction with the public. Not to mention discipline, composure under pressure, time management, communication, team and individual working ability – all gained from practice and performing. You will also learn technical skills through using computers, equipment and software to create and record music.

Year 1 AS level (40% of the full A-level qualification)

Unit 1 – Performing. You will perform two or three pieces to a visiting examiner. These will be of your choice either as a solo or as part of an ensemble. The total performance should last between 6 – 8 minutes and any instrument or voice is acceptable for this unit of Grade V standard.

Unit 2 – Composing. You will compose two pieces; a free composition of a least 2 minutes duration and the other in response from a brief set from WJEC in the Western Classical Tradition.

Unit 3 – Appraising. A written examination of 1 hour 30 minutes (approx.) on two Areas of Study: Part 1 from the orchestral Western Classical Tradition and Part 2: Musical Theatre (Porter, Rodgers, Schoenberg & Lloyd-Webber) or Rock and Pop (1965 – 1990)

Year 2 A-level (60% of the full A-level qualification)

The A-level units are the same as for AS, but with a greater weighting for Performing and Appraising.

Unit 4 – Performing. You will perform two or three pieces to a visiting examiner. These will be of your choice either as a solo or as part of an ensemble. The total performance should last between 10 – 12 minutes and any instrument or voice is acceptable for this unit of Grade VI standard.

Unit 5 – Composing. You will compose two pieces; a free composition of a least 2 minutes duration and the other in response from a brief set from WJEC in the Western Classical Tradition.

Unit 6 – Appraising. A written examination of 2 hours 15 minutes (approx.) on one Area of Study: Part 1 from the orchestral Western Classical Tradition and two strands: Impressionism or Music in Wales or Popular Music in Wales or Musical Theatre (Stephen Sondheim or Stephen Schwartz)

Entry Requirements

You will need to have either a good GCSE pass in Music or be of a Grade V standard on both your chosen instrument and Music Theory. We do require that all students who take AS/A2 Music continue to have instrumental lessons and take part in at least one extra – curricular musical group. Music complements a range of commonly required A-level subjects like Mathematics, Physics, English, History, Geography and Biology, and selecting a good mix can help keep degree choices wide open. You should have a curiosity about the subject and be able to use a notation program.

Course Content

The specification we follow is the WJEC Syllabus

AS Level (one year):
1. Performing – performance during April of the first year
2. Composing – two compositions which include a score, recording and write-up
3. Appraising – a written examination in the June of the first year

A-level (two years):
4. Performing – performance during April of the second year
5. Composing – two compositions which include a score, recording and write-up
6. Appraising – a written examination in the June of the second year

Practical Assessment:

There will be no internal assessment that leads to marks that contribute towards the AS or A-level grades. Instead, practical work (Performing) will be assessed by a visiting examiner and the Composing folio will be sent off to be marked by WJEC.

Appraising√Examination questions

AS (after 1 year of study) and A-level (after 2 years of study)
AS Listening Paper: based on music from the Western Classical Tradition and Musical Theatre or Rock and Pop (1965 – 1990)

A-level Listening Paper: based on music from the Western Classical Tradition and American Musical Theatre

Where does it lead?

Music graduates have a wide range of career options available to them both inside and outside the industry, including: performer, teacher, administrator, songwriter, conductor, composer, recording engineer, manager, promoter or music publisher. There are also more jobs than ever in music business related areas, such as: careers in digital marketing, social media, PR, technology, label services, ticketing and merchandising. It is also common to find music graduates in consultancy, finance, banking, music therapy and legal jobs.

Reading List

‘Composing Contemporary Music – A Student’s Guide’ – Pwyll ap Siôn & Iwan Llewelyn-Jones https://www.amazon.co.uk/Composing-Contemporary-Music-Students-Guide/dp/1845214072?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0
Music of the Three Great Eras pub. Pen Y Groes http://www.gwales.com/goto/biblio/en/9790708091240
Music of the Twentieth Century pub. Pen Y Groes http://www.gwales.com/bibliographic/?isbn=9780900426971&tsid=1
Discover series: Baroque Era, Classical Era, Romantic Era, Music of the 20th century http://www.naxos.com/naxosbooks/naxosbooks_twentieth.asp

Useful websites:

There are many, the following is a short selection:
Educational Resources for GCE Music can be found here: http://resources.wjec.co.uk/Pages/SearchResources.aspx
http://www.therestisnoise.com/noise/
http://www.classicfm.com/discover/periods/modern/
http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Twentieth-century_music
http://www.dolmetsch.com/musictheory40.htm

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