The Music A Level course offers a wide range of opportunities in all areas of Music study. Whether it is performing, composing or analysing and expressing opinions, the qualification allows you to develop your individual strengths within Music, whilst developing your understanding of the music’s place in different cultures and contexts. You will be encouraged to engage critically and creatively with a wide range of musical genres and techniques, all the while helping you to interpret and reflect on how Music is used in the expression of personal and collective identities.
Much like the GCSE, the A Level qualification is divided into three areas of assessment, all studied over the two-year course.
Performing (externally assessed practical coursework; 35% of the qualification)
The Performing unit consists of a public performance of one or more pieces, performed as a recital. The total performance time across all pieces must be a minimum of 10 minutes. The recital must be in front of an audience, and must take place within the final year of the course.
Composition (externally assessed practical coursework; 25% of the qualification)
The Composing unit requires the completion of two compositions, one to a brief set by AQA and one free composition. The total time across both submissions must be a minimum of 4½ minutes.
Appraisal (2½ hour written examination; 40% of the qualification)
The Appraising unit tests your knowledge and understanding of the musical elements, contexts and musical language. There are six Areas of Study which you will explore throughout the course, learning specific set works chosen by the exam board. The written A Level examination will require the application of your musical knowledge to all set works and composers studied throughout the course.
You do not need to have studied Music at GCSE Level in order to study the A Level course. If you have taken GCSE Music, then at least a Grade 6 is required. However, you will need to play an instrument to Grade 6 standard or above. Listening and appraisal within the A Level builds upon that required for the GCSE, so a sound theoretical knowledge is necessary to fully access the A Level course. The course involves a substantial amount of written work, including essay based questions within the written exam, so you will need to write confidently to a high standard. Also, at least Grade 5 in GCSE Maths and English.
You could take this course to complement other Advanced Level courses, which could lead onto Higher Education to study Music related courses, or more general Higher Education courses. With further training, you could go into a job related to Music such as a Music Composer, Musician, Sound Technician, or you may wish to use your music ability for recreational purposes.