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A Level Music at Royal Latin School

Course description

Music at AS and at A2 demands performing, composing, listening and analytical/critical thinking skills in almost equal measure. You will develop skills in performing and composing in a range of styles and listen to a wide variety of music, developing an informed appreciation of how and why the music was written and performed. You need a keen interest in creating and listening to different styles of music and become open to broadening your experience and deepening your understanding of both live and recoded music.

Course content

AS Unit 1: Performing Music (120 marks). Practical Examination with a visiting examiner: Section A: solo recital (maximum 8 mins) 60 marks. Section B: includes a Viva voce – a discussion for about 5 mins) 20 marks. Section C: Extended performing: either performing on a second instrument (maximum 4 mins), or further performance on the recital instrument in an ensemble or duet or as an accompaniment (maximum 4 mins) or performing own composition (maximum 4 mins) or improvisation (maximum 2 mins plus 10 mins preparation time) 40 marks. This gives great flexibility to perform to your own particular strengths.

AS Unit 2: Composing (90 marks). Teacher-assessed Portfolio. Section A: The Language of Western Tonal Harmony: exercises in musical grammar (maximum seven) 45 marks. Section B: Instrumental Composition (maximum length 3 mins) 45 marks.

AS Unit 3: Introduction to Historical Study in Music (90 marks). Timed examination (1 hour 45 mins + 15 mins preparation time). Section A: Aural Extract: one of solo instrumental chamber or orchestral repertoire from the period 1700 – 1830 or popular instrumental music from 1900- present day, 30 marks. Section B: Prescribed Works: two extracts 18th/early 19th century Orchestra and Jazz 1920 -1960, 40 marks. Section C: Contextual Study: one question from 3, 20 marks.

A2 Unit 4: Performing Music 2: Interpretation (120 marks). Practical Examination with a visiting examiner: Section A: recital: solo, ensemble or accompanying (maximum 15 mins), 100 marks. Section B: Viva voce: interpretative understanding (approximately 5 mins), 20 marks.

A2 Unit 5: Composing 2 (90 marks).Teacher-assessed Portfolio. Section A: Stylistic Techniques: exercises (maximum 8) based on one of: (a) two-part counterpoint of the late 16th century, (b) two-part Baroque counterpoint (c) chorale harmonisations in the style of J.S. Bach (d) string quartets in the Classical style (e) keyboard accompaniments in early Romantic style (f) popular song (g) serialism (h) minimalism, 45 marks. Section B: Composition: one of: (a) vocal setting of a text (maximum 120 words or 4 stanzas), (b) instrumental interpretation of a programme/story (maximum 4 mins), (c) music for film/TV (maximum 4 mins), 45 marks.

A2 Unit 6: Historic and Analytical Studies in Music (90 marks). Timed Examination paper (I hr 45 mins + 15 mins preparation time). Section A: Aural extract: accompanied vocal music 1900-45, 40 marks. Section B: Prescribed topics: two questions from three on one of six topics: (a) Song (b) Programme Music (c) Music for Screen) (d) Music and Belief (e) Music for the Stage (f) Music Post -1945 9 (g) Popular Music, 50 marks.

Entry requirements

We require at least a grade B in Music GCSE, or we may accept Grade 5 theory, and prefer you to have at least a Grade 5 (or equivalent) practical. Music at this level is highly academic as well as practical. It is useful to have taken music at GCSE level, but this is not essential, providing you can play an instrument to a reasonable standard. It is essential that you can read music. If you have equivalent qualifications, we will ask you to sit an informal entrance test. Contact with any queries.


Assessment is by exercises, essays, examination and coursework concerts. We place great emphasis on your individual musical development.

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 27 April 2015

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