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Music A Level at Helston Community College

Course description

If you have a keen interest in creating and listening to diff erent styles of music and if you wish to further your appreciation and understanding of music, then this is the course for you. There is a strong emphasis on performing and you can perform in any style, whether it’s jazz, classical, folk or heavy metal. You will study in detail Classical music and Jazz and learn compositional techniques from both these styles. You will also study basic and advanced Harmony.

Course content

Unit 1: Performing (33.3% AS, 16.65% overall) Students must prepare a recital that lasts between 10 and 15 minutes. There are opportunities for ensemble performance, improvisation and performance on a second instrument. You are expected to have a fi veminute discussion with the examiner.

Unit 2: Composing (33.3% AS, 16.65% overall) This unit is split into two sections. For the fi rst, your tutor will set you seven harmony exercises which you have to complete at any point during the course. The second can be either a free composition or a creative arrangement (for example you may want to arrange a jazz lead sheet into a full Big Band score).

Unit 3: Introduction to Historical Study (33.3% AS, 16.65% overall) This consists of an exam which will take place in the third term. Section A will test your aural skills. You will have to identify chords, cadences, harmonic and melodic devices and there will be aural dictation. Section B and C will relate to six set works that you will have studied during the course.

Unit 4: Performing Music 2 (16.65% A2) Students must prepare a recital that lasts up to 15 minutes. This diff ers from the AS performing unit in that you are expected to perform on one instrument only and there is a focus area of your choice in your recital. For example, you might prepare four separate pieces that are by Russian composers, or a set of Joe Satriani guitar studies.

Unit 5: Composing 2 (16.65% A2) This is similar to unit 1 except that for section A you have to complete eight exercises from a choice of eight diff erent styles including pop song, minimalism and chorales. For section B candidates must submit a composition four minutes in length and must be based on one of three briefs set by OCR. They include composing for Film/Television, Programme Music or a Vocal Composition.

Unit 6: Historical and Analytical Studies in Music (16.65% A2) This is similar to Unit 3 except instead of the 6 prescribed works in AS Music, the class chooses one of six topics to study in detail.

These are:

  • Song
  • Programme Music
  • Music for Screen
  • Music and Belief
  • Music for the Stage
  • Popular Music

Entry requirements

College entry requirements plus GCSE English grade C or above. You will need a B grade or above in GCSE music. However, if you have not done GCSE Music and are interested in the course, it is essential that you contact the course tutor before signing up.


There will be an external examiner visiting the college to assess unit 1 and 4 (performing). Unit 2 and Unit 5 (composing) is internally assessed and externally verifi ed. Unit 3 and 6 (the exam) is externally assessed.

Future opportunities

It is a very rewarding course and universities and employers really do hold people in high regard if they have completed A Level Music successfully. It is a sign of someone who is highly motivated, shows perseverance, works well in a team and, above all, is creative.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Helston Community College directly.

Last updated date: 20 July 2016

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