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Music A level at Bishop Thomas Grant Catholic Secondary School

Course description

The Music department at Bishop Thomas Grant School is a vibrant, well-established department with a strong tradition of making music in all areas of school life – curricular, extra-curricular and in support of the spiritual life of the school.  Our passion for music is broad and varied, and we offer a rich musical experience to every student who comes to the school.

Course content

In both years students are required to complete two compositions using Sibelius, a software package used in the music industry at all levels.  These compositions are then performed by live musicians.  In the past, our students have had their compositions performed by members of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and Glyndebourne Opera House.  We often take students on trips into London to the English National Opera, the Barbican and the South Bank, as well as Ronnie Scott’s as we believe that London is our ‘wider’ classroom.

Performance is a great strength of Bishop Thomas Grant School Music.  At A-Level a visiting examiner assesses this aspect of the course.  We are very proud of our advanced performers, and offer our A-Level students half hour lessons with an expert tutor as part of the course.  Students perform solo recitals on their main instrument.



Performing:   A solo or ensemble recital (8-10 minutes); 

  • 90 marks;
  • Assessed by visiting examiner

Composing: Two contrasting compositions.  

  • One demonstrating techniques of the Western Classical Tradition 
  • One free composition.
  • 90 marks;
  • Teacher assessed and externally moderated

Appraising:  One listening exam in two parts:

  • Part 1 – 1 hour appraising test based on extracts of music (set works) taken from two areas of study
  • Part 2 – 1 hour aural perception exam based on unprepared musical extracts
  • 120 marks
  • External assessment


Performing A: A solo or ensemble recital (10-12 minutes) – 90 marks


Performing B: A solo or ensemble recital (16-18 minutes) – 120 marks

Assessed by visiting examiner


Composing A: Two contrasting compositions.  One demonstrating techniques of the Western Classical Tradition and one reflecting 20th Century musical techniques – 90 marks


Composing B: Three contrasting compositions.  The two as above plus one free composition – 120 marks

Teacher assessed and externally marked


Appraising A: One written exam in two parts

Part 1 - A ¾ hour listening exam based on extracts of unfamiliar 20th/21st century music

Part 2 – A 1 ½ hour listening/written exam based on one set work and related works – 90 marks


Appraising B: The two exams above plus an additional ¾ hour written exam on a second set work – 120 marks

External assessment

Further information

The Music department believes that the work we do in the classroom feeds into and works alongside the instrumental and singing lessons provided by our peripatetic tutors.  We offer subsidised tuition on all orchestral and rock instruments, including voice.  We do ask parents for a contribution each term, but this is minimal compared to market rates.  In return, we expect that all children taking music lessons will contribute to at least one school music club, and expect them to take at least one ABRSM or Rock School grade per year to ensure that they are making progress.  All pupils taking extra music lessons must be practicing daily, and parents should be signing their planners every week as evidence.  Our GCSE and A-Level students all receive their lessons free of charge.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Bishop Thomas Grant Catholic Secondary School directly.

Last updated date: 24 November 2016
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