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Music A Level at Bishop Heber High School

Course description

Does the prospect of performing music excite you?

Do you enjoy creating your own songs or instrumental tracks?

Are you intrigued by the recording process?

Are you open to a wide range of musical styles and traditions?

If the answer to these questions is yes, then studying Music at Advanced Level could be for you.

Course content

The course develops the essential skills of performing, composing and listening and builds on the knowledge skills and techniques studied in GCSE Music. The course can be studied at AS along with A level and comprises the following three components.

Performing (30%) Students have to perform (either solo and/or ensemble) for a minimum of 6 minutes at AS and 8 minutes at A level.

Composing (30%) At AS students compose two pieces, one to a set brief and the second in response to a different brief or as a free composition. At A level students must compose two pieces, one in response to the free choice brief/free composition and one in response to a brief assessing technique. The two pieces must have a combined duration of at least 4½ minutes at AS and 6 minutes at A level.

Appraising (40%) The content of musical elements, musical contexts and musical language is taught through the context of six Areas of Study, each containing two Set Works at AS and an additional Set Work at A level, allowing co-teachability between the two qualifications.



Component 1: Performing

  • This is a non-examined assessment which is externally marked.
  • Students will give a public performance of one or more pieces, performed as a recital.
  • The recital can be playing or singing solo, in an ensemble, improvising, or realising music using music technology. 

Component 2: Composing

  • Again this is a non-examined assessment and is externally marked.
  • Students will compose a total of two compositions, one to a brief set by the board and one either free composition or also to a brief. 

Component 3: Appraising

  • This is a 2 hour written examination taken at the end of the course.
  • It will assess students’ application of knowledge through the context of six areas of study, each with three set works. (Two set works at AS).

The Areas of Study are:

Vocal Music (J. S. Bach, Cantata, Ein feste Burg, Mozart, The Magic Flute, Vaughan Williams, On Wenlock Edge)

Instrumental Music (Vivaldi, Concerto in D minor, Op. 3 No. 11, Brahms, Clarinet Quintet, Op. 115, Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique) 

Music for Film (Bernard Herrmann, Psycho, Klaus Badelt and Hans Zimmer, Pirates of the Caribbean - The Curse of the Black Pearl, Danny Elfman, Batman Returns)

Popular Music and Jazz (Beatles – Revolver, Courtney Pine – Back in the Day, David Bowie – Low) 

Fusions (Debussy, ‘Estampes’, Cubanismo: ‘Descargo de Hoy’ and Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz: The Girl from Ipanema, A. R. Rahman, ‘Jai ho’ (‘You are my destiny’), Punjabi MC, ‘Mundian to Bach Ke’)

New Directions (Cage – Three Dances for two prepared pianos, Britten, War Requiem, Schoenberg, Two Piano Pieces)

This paper comprises two sections: A and B

  • Section A: Three questions related to the set works (audio and skeleton score provided), and one short melody/rhythm completion exercise.
  • Section B: requires extended responses. Two essay questions – essay one (20 marks) and essay two (30 marks). Essay one asks students to draw links from their study of the set works to the music heard as an unfamiliar extract. Essay two gives a choice of three questions that ask students to evaluate the musical elements, context and language of one set work. Each option will be from a different area of study.


How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Bishop Heber High School directly.

Last updated date: 01 September 2016

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