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Music - AS / A level at Kesgrave High School

Course description

A Level Music is mainly centred on an academic study of classical music. Students wishing to take A Level Music should be approximately grade V in theory and be able to perform to a similar level. The syllabus does not follow on from GCSE music, so it is open to candidates who have not studied music at Key Stage 4.

The course divides into 6 main units. The first 3 units constitute the AS exam.

Course content

Most sessions are teacher-led where you will analyse and learn about the set works. In the first term students will develop their composition techniques in preparation for completing the coursework. There will be occasional master classes and solo performances through-out the year to help you prepare for the performances.

The course demands performing, composing, listening and analytical skills in almost equal measure.

You will improve your skills in performing and composing in a range of styles. You will listen to a wide variety of music and develop a more informed appreciation of how and why it was written and/or performed.

What kind of student is this course suitable for?

Anyone who has a keen interest in creating and listening to different styles of music and who wishes to broaden their experience and deepen their understanding of both live and recorded music.

According to which Areas of Study and options you choose, you could follow a route which focuses mainly on classical music or popular music, for example.

There are Areas of Study in 'Keyboard Music', 'Popular music and jazz', 'Music for film and television', 'World music', 'Secular vocal music', 'Sacred vocal music', 'Music for large ensemble', 'Music for small ensemble' and '20th and 21st Century art music'.

Entry requirements

It is useful to have taken music at GCSE level, but this is not essential as long as you can already play a musical instrument and are able to read music.




AS is short for Advanced Subsidiary. This is the first half of the Advanced GCE course. It is a stepping-stone to the full Advanced GCE qualification.

You can take the AS on its own after a year if you and your teacher agree that this is best for you.

You can even decide at the end of the AS Course whether to continue and to complete the full Advanced GCE qualification.

There are 3 units of work for the AS course which are all assessed externally:

1. Performance 30%:
Candidates must perform a 5 minute recital of pieces that are approximately
    grade VI in standard. This performance may contain solos, group ensembles
    and improvisation. The recital must be recorded in one take and it can be for any

2. Composition 30%:
    Candidates must compose a three minute piece from a choice of four topics that
    are set by the board. This work must be completed during lesson times under 
   “controlled conditions”. The set briefs are published in January. During the first
    term we will be developing the students’ compositional techniques.

3. Developing Musical Understanding 40%: 
    There are three parts to the written exam. The first part contains pieces from an
    anthology that have been studied as part of the course. The students are asked
    essay style and short answer questions regarding the analysis of the music.
    The second part is a listening test which asks the candidate to aurally analyse,
    compare and contrast additional pieces from the anthology. The final section is  
    a harmony test where the candidates must complete a piece for a choir (SATB).

The A2 units follow the same format but are completed at a more advanced level.

Board : Edexcel


Future opportunities

Students who have studied music at KHS have taken up careers in various music disciplines including live sound in theatres, recording engineer, composing music for films, class teaching, instrumental teaching, radio production, composing music for adverts, arts administration, professional musician and writing songs for Rihanna.


Further information

For more information, contact Mr Woodley.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Kesgrave High School directly.

Last updated date: 20 July 2015
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