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A Level Music Technology at The Bishop of Winchester Academy

Course description

Technology is increasingly fundamental to the way music is written, performed, recorded and distributed. As the tools of the trade become cheaper and more sophisticated, there are more opportunities than ever for people to produce music of professional quality without spending a fortune. It’s true to say that musicians are now only limited by their imaginations and their motivation to learn! This course looks at how various kinds of technology are used in the creation and production of popular music.

Course content

Students with a good understanding of music (both theory and practice) will be able to develop their skills in Arranging (Year 1) and Composing (Year 2); whilst acquiring technical skills in Sequencing, Synthesis, Recording and Mixing. Most importantly, students will learn to listen analytically: this skill underpins all practical activities. In this course there are three Areas of Study:

1. The Principles and Practice of Music Technology: the study and practice of MIDI sequencing, audio sequencing, synthesis, sampling, recording and mixing. This involves using appropriate equipment to develop an understanding of the processes that achieve musical results.

2. The Development of Popular Music Styles since 1910: the study of many styles and genres of Popular Music, including jazz as well as pop and rock. You will be learn about the main developments in these styles and will be able to recognise and write about key features. Each year there are two “Special Focus” styles, which students study in greater detail.

3. The Development of Technology-based Music: you will learn about the main developments in music technology over the last 100 years. This includes both the equipment itself, and how it has been put to use in various styles of music. Study for this element includes the development of electric and electronic instruments, recording technology and processing/effects.

Entry requirements

This course is suited to students with an active interest in music; in particular, those who may already be performing, writing or producing music independently. Students must be willing to listen objectively to music from a broad range of styles.  Students must meet the standard 6th Form entry criteria and it is preferred that students have a minimum of a GCSE grade B or Merit at Level 2 BTEC in this or a related subject.  If you have not taken GCSE Music you will need to audition to gain entry to the course, as an ability to perform is essential for all practical tasks. Students must have a basic level of keyboard skill and must have the ability to read music using conventional, 5 line stave notation in treble and bass clefs (this does NOT include drum or guitar ‘tab’ notation). A good understanding of traditional music theory is essential; ideally students should have passed the Grade III Music Theory examination. There is no requirement for any previous experience with technology hardware or software.


In both years you will put together a portfolio of three pieces of practical work and also sit an examination at year-end.  In the first year 70% is awarded to practical work and 30% to the examination.  In the second year 60% is awarded to practical work and 40% examination.

Future opportunities

Many students progress to a wide range of degree courses in Sound Recording and/or Music Technology, and this course is good preparation for these kinds of programme.  There are also a growing number of university courses which incorporate music technology in a number of ways, and also, a wider range of courses (e.g. in Media or Design) which recognise and value the computer and technical skills you will have learnt during this course. Degree courses in Sound Engineering or Acoustics, such as the prestigious Tonmeister Course at the University of Surrey, will require students to have Maths and Physics A Levels alongside Music Technology in addition to a strong understanding of the rudiments and theory of music.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact The Bishop of Winchester Academy directly.

Last updated date: 04 June 2015

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