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Music A-Level at Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College

Course description

AS and A2 cover Performing, Composition, Analysis and Musical History.

Modules 1 & 4 specialise in the history and analysis of music. At AS level, students focus on a set Classical work and also study Choral Music in the Baroque Period. Students learn how the music is constructed, how it reflects the time in which it was composed and the important links that exist with other related music. Knowledge of traditional music notation, harmony, keys and scales is essential, as is the ability to read a score.

At A2 level, students focus on a different Classical set work and also study Chamber Music from Mendelssohn to Debussy.

Modules 2 & 5 specialise in composition. This element incorporates IT and extensive use of music software, particularly Sibelius 7. As well as having the opportunity to be creative, the course offers the opportunity to acquire the traditional techniques of composition.

Modules 3 & 6 specialise in the performance of music. This unit utilises the skills that the students have already acquired.

The whole course is ideal for students who have learnt a musical instrument over a number of years and are at grade 4 standard or above. Many students who play an instrument well will find the course enjoyable because it uses already acquired performance skills which count for 40% of the AS examination (30% of the A2 year). The ability to play an instrument or sing is required and there are plenty of opportunities for ensemble work with the regular College concerts. It is essential to have knowledge of music theory to a grade 5 standard.

Course content

Module 1: Influences on Music – Students study one set work, currently two movements from Haydn’s Symphony No. 104 for Choral Music in the Baroque Period students study works by J. S. Bach, Handel, Vivaldi & Purcell.

Module 2: Composing: Creating Musical Ideas – Coursework consists of one free composition; students compose a work for voices, keyboard or a small ensemble.

Module 3: Performing: Interpreting Musical Ideas – Students offer two performances. These consist of a solo recital on an instrument or voice and a second performance on a different instrument or as part of an ensemble. A minimum standard of grade 4 is required.

Module 4: Music in Context – Students study one set work, currently Elgar’s first symphony; for Chamber Music from Mendelssohn to Debussy, students also study works by Schumann, Wagner, Ravel and Dvořák.

Module 5: Composing: Developing Musical Ideas – Coursework consists of one free composition in any style or genre for a combination or voices and/or instruments.

Module 6: Performing: A Musical Performance – A recital on a solo instrument which can focus on an area of special interest. The minimum standard required is grade 5.

How it is taught

We listen to a wide range of music and examine the techniques used by a variety of composers. Short essays are set after informal listening and discussion; music software can be used for both composition and the improvement of music theory. Students have the opportunity to work both individually and as part of a group. Opportunities are also provided to play an instrument or sing in rehearsals and concerts throughout the year. Students are encouraged to integrate all the units so that what is learnt in one area can be practically applied to another.

Entry requirements

The usual entry requirement to QE is 5 GCSE grades at C or above including Maths or English. A good number of students study four AS Levels in their first year and to do this we require at least 3B grades and 3C grades at GCSE including Maths and English Language. Students who do not achieve these GCSE grades take fewer subjects at A Level and will be required to do resits in GCSE Maths and English if they have not already achieved a grade C in these core subjects. The College is large enough to have a very flexible timetable that allows students to take almost any combination of subjects at A Level. The advantage of this system is that we can tailor your programme to suit your needs and abilities. We give lots of advice if you decide to apply to the College.


Subject Specific

Knowledge of music theory to at least a grade 5 standard is essential: this will be assessed through a theory test in Bridging. A student should also perform a musical instrument or sing to grade 4 standard. A student must be interested in listening to a wide range of music and wish to acquire and improve their essential skills in music.


Module 1 - Influences on Music - 1 hour 45 minutes written exam

1st Year - 30% of AS (15% of A level)

Module 2 - Composing: Creating Musical Ideas – Coursework

1st Year - 30% of AS (15% of A level)

Module 3 - Performing: Interpreting Musical Ideas - Internally Assessed

1st Year - 40% of AS (20% of A level)

Module 4 - Music in Context - 2 hour 15 minutes written exam

2nd Year - 40% of A2 (20% of A level)

Module 5 - Composing: Developing Musical Ideas – Coursework

2nd Year - 30% of A2 (15% of A level)

Module 6 - Performing: A Musical Performance - Internally Assessed

2nd Year - 30% of A2 (15% of A level)

Future opportunities

Music enhances essential skills such as communication, problem solving, creativity, working in a team and building self-confidence. The experiences it offers are valuable in university applications and many of our music students have continued their musical studies in Higher Education.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College directly.

Last updated date: 17 April 2015
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