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Music A-Level at Ranelagh School

Course description

The syllabus for A Level Music is designed to cover the basic disciplines of listening, harmony and performing. Students have the opportunity to develop their practical skills as well as studying exciting and interesting set works and learning about different  approaches to harmony. This qualification will enable students to develop their musical knowledge, understanding and skills, including performing, composing and appraising. Students will be encouraged to engage critically and creatively with a wide range of music and musical contexts and develop an understanding of the place of music in different cultures and contexts.

A Level students are expected to participate fully in extra-curricular activities and they should also be available to perform in school concerts. It is not advisable to undertake the performing aspects of the course without regular lessons from an experienced and qualified instrumental/vocal teacher.

Studying A Level Music enables students to develop a range of skills, with particular emphasis being on communication, working with others and improving learning and performance. As well as developing their musical expertise, practical musicianship and knowledge, students also develop aptitudes which are transferable to other disciplines including analysis and problem-solving.

Course content


Unit 1 - performing

  • Demonstrate an understanding of musical elements, style, sense of continuity, interpretation and expression
  • Assessed performances can involve playing or singing solo or in an ensemble

Unit 2 - composition

  • Demonstrate the manipulation of musical ideas and the use of musical devices and conventions
  • Free composition and a brief assessing technique (chorale harmonisation)
  • Free composition brief will be released in September of Year 13, brief assessing technique will be released in April of Year 13

Unit 3 - appraising

  • Appraise contrasting genres, styles and traditions of music, and develop understanding of musical contexts and a coherent awareness of musical chronology
  • Areas of study include vocal music, instrumental music, music for film, popular music and jazz, fusions and new directions

Entry requirements

Prospective students who are studying GCSE Music are expected to achieve grade B or above. Students not studying GCSE Music are also welcome; performers of grade 5 standard on an instrument or voice would have the necessary practical skills to consider opting for A Level Music and grade 5 theory is also useful. Students who have not studied the subject at GCSE should consult the Curriculum Leader.


Unit 1 - 30% of A level - minimum of 8 mins performance programme - recital recorded between March and May of year 13

Unit 2 -  30% of A level -  submissions must be a minimum of six mins in total - brief assessing technique (10%) to be completed under controlled conditions (up to 6 hrs)

Unit 3 - 40% of A level - written exam 2 hrs - questions include short responses related to the set works, aural dictation, extended response to set works and listening-based comparison with an unfamiliar work

Future opportunities

Students with A Level Music or a degree in Music often follow specialist music careers, further education at university or equivalent, or are accepted in almost any type of employment. A Level Music is considered as an academic A Level which can also support students’ progression to a range of degree subjects. Many former students from Ranelagh have studied Music at university; equally, Music students have gone on to study subjects in unrelated disciplines including Medicine, Engineering, Psychology, Physics and Theology

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 04 January 2017

Key information