Music A Level *Fees Payable* at Rochester Independent College
The A level music course attracts students with a passion for music, who want to develop their composition, listening and performing skills. It is suitable for students with instrumental skills at around grade IV/V level at AS level, and grade VI at A2, as well as students with an interest in music technology as an alternative to traditional performance. There are six modules over the entire A-level.
Unit 1 - Influences on Music
Influences on Music is a unit of practical and listening activities, in which students develop a vocabulary to talk about a range of classical music, from the Baroque to the present day.
A broad investigation of classical repertoire prepares students for the first part of the exam paper, where they answer questions on music they may not have heard before. They then study a set work in greater depth – currently Haydn’s Symphony no. 104 (to change in coming years) – as well as the development of popular music from 1960 to the present day. In the exam, they write two essays – one on Haydn’s Symphony and one on popular music. This unit is worth 30% of the AS and 15% of the A Level, and is assessed on a written exam lasting 1 hour 45 minutes, which is taken in the summer. There are 80 total marks on the exam paper.
Unit 2 – Composing: Creating Musical Ideas
For this unit, students have a chance to develop their composition abilities, by writing original music for instruments of their own choice, or by arranging a given melody in a new style. There is also the option of more structured composition exercises as an alternative to original composition. This unit is worth 30% of the AS and 15% of the A Level, and is externally assessed coursework. The compositions are marked out of 60.
Unit 3 – Performing: Interpreting Musical Ideas
For this unit, students prepare two performances of 10 – 16 minutes in total duration. The first performance is a solo performance or music technology equivalent, and the second is chosen from a range of options, including performance on a second instrument, ensemble performance and sound engineering. The required standard for traditional performance is grade 5 on an instrument of the student’s choice. This unit is worth 40% of the AS, 20% of the A Level, and is internally assessed. Students receive a mark out of 80.
Unit 4 – Music in Context
This unit is similar to AS unit 1, exploring more general musical features, as well as a set work, this time from the twentieth century - Shostakovich’s Symphony no 5. In addition, students research the development of jazz and blues. In the exam they answer questions on previously unheard music and essays on the set areas of study. The unit is worth 20% of A Level, and is assessed via a written exam of 100 marks lasting 2 hours 15 minutes.
Unit 5 – Composing: Developing Musical Ideas
This unit is similar to unit 2, in that students compose a piece of between 5 and 8 minutes to a chosen brief. Like the AS module, there is also the option of arranging a melody in a popular style or of the harmonisation of a Bach chorale. The composition is worth 15% of the overall A Level. It is externally assessed and carries 60 marks.
Unit 6 – Performing: A Musical Performance
Candidates offer two (or more) contrasting pieces to form a short programme for either acoustic performance and/or performance via music technology chosen from either solo acoustic performances lasting 10–15 minutes, technology-based performances, one solo performance and one technology-based. The required standard for traditional performance is grade 5 on an instrument of the student’s choice. The unit is worth 15% of the A Level. It is externally assessed and carries 60 marks.
Assessment methods: 6 Modules
Length of exams: 1 x 1h 45m and 1 x 2h 15 written papers + composing and performing units
Overlap with other subjects: Music as an academic discipline does not necessarily have a set of transferable study skills although our students have been encouraged in recent years to work with students in Film Studies to create original compositions.
How to apply
If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Rochester Independent College directly.