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Music A Level at The Downs School

Course description

We are surrounded by music and consume it constantly. Advertising, television and film bombard us with music; it is part of our culture and more importantly, our identity. Music is a means of communication, it can change moods, alter opinion, educate, soothe, excite and promote.

Students studying A Level Music will learn and develop skills of listening and appraising and will further develop their performance and compositional skills as well as their understanding of musical devices both through the appreciation of the music of others and through their own work. It is a course which is interesting and incorporates music from a wide range of styles whilst allowing students to perform and compose in their own chosen style.

There are many opportunities for performing within the course, and the opportunity to set up a music group if you wish. If you are currently learning and practising instrument to grade 5 standard (or above) then you are prepared for the 30% performing aspect of the course and could possibly devote more time to the composing and musical understanding aspects of the course.

Course content

AS Course – 3 units

1. Performing – 30% A 5-6 minute performance is required of Grade 5 or above and this can be recorded at any time during the course.

2. Composing – 30% One 3-minute written composition to a brief of students choice, together with a written description of the final piece explaining how other pieces of music have influenced it.

3. Developing Musical Understanding– 40% This unit is an exam unit which concerns listening to music and understanding how it works through the study of set works. There is also a short exercise on four part harmony as part of the exam.

A2 Music – 3 units

4. Extended Performance – 30% A 12-15 minute balanced programme is required of Grade 7 standard or above and this can be Recorded at any time during the course.

5. Composition and Technical Study – 30% In this unit students must complete 2 tasks choosing from either one composition and one technical study or two compositions or two technical studies.

6. Further Musical Understanding – 40% This unit is an exam unit which looks at different set works from the anthology concentrating on important musical features, whilst developing listening skills to compare and contrast music of a similar style.

Entry requirements

Students should play at least one instrument/voice at GRADE 5 standard.



Future opportunities

The A Level Music course provides an excellent basis for lifelong learning and for Higher Education courses in Music, and many students who take A level Music continue their studies at university. The three units of the course can lead to studies in performance, composition, musicology, ethnomusicology, sound engineering, conducting, popular music and jazz, and music education.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact The Downs School directly.

Last updated date: 26 June 2015

Key information

  • Start date: Next September
  • Duration: 1 - 2 Years