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Music A Level at Truro and Penwith College

Course description

In this course you will learn the central aspects of music: Performance; Composition; Analysis. Central aspects means you will play to a high level (you must be a grade 5 player to start the course). In composition you will grow to understand the mechanics of music, how it works in terms of harmony, structure and arranging, and you will be able to recognise and talk about different styles of music. Anyone taking this course must read music as discussions about styles and compositional techniques will all be based on notation. 

A brilliant aspect of the course is that you get to work with an accompanist each week in order that your recital is as polished as possible. As a result, in this section of the course most students get an A grade.

As a good musician you will need to be able to hear what is happening in music and we will spend a lot of time developing your ability to listen. By the end of the course you will be able to work out what notes and chords are being played. This of course means your composing will improve as you will be able to write down what you can hear in your head. Listening to a range of composers will give an idea of what you can write, so the whole course is linked.

Taught by experienced musicians, the course is exactly right if you want to progress in music performing; film music composing; song writing or music education.

Course content

AS Level

Unit 1 – Performance recital which should last between 8 and 10 minutes demonstrating contrasting styles. You are not restricted to one instrument/voice.

One of the pieces performed must be a realisation of a composition submitted in Unit 2 or should reflect one of the areas of study chosen in Unit 3. The recital is assessed by a visiting examiner.

Unit 2 – You are required to submit two contrasting compositions. Composition one must reflect the musical techniques and conventions associated with western classical tradition. Composition two is a free composition. The total playing time of the submission should be between a minimum of four minutes and a maximum of eight minutes. Compositions must be recorded and presented with a score using the appropriate notation. Each composition must be accompanied by a summary of the initial stimulus and processes used. Unit 2 compositions are internally assessed and sent to the examination board for moderation.

Unit 3 – This unit will take the form of a 90 minute set works exam and a further 60 minute exam of aural perception.

A2 Level

Unit 4(A) – Performance recital: solo and/or ensemble which should last between 10 and 12 minutes in length demonstrating contrasting styles. One piece should reflect the new area of study (music in the 20th and 21st centuries.) This is assessed by a visiting examiner or

Unit 4(B) – Performance recital: solo and/or ensemble which should last between 16 and 18 minutes in length demonstrating contrasting styles. One piece should reflect the new area of study (music in the 20th and 21st centuries). One piece must reflect a further area of study. This is assessed by a visiting examiner.

Unit 5 (A) – Composition: Two contrasting compositions lasting between six and ten minutes. Composition one should reflect the western classical tradition and composition two should reflect the area of study (music in the 20th and 21st centuries) or

Unit 5 (B) – Composition: Three contrasting compositions lasting between 12 and 18 minutes. Composition one should reflect the western classical tradition and composition two should reflect the area of study (music in the 20th and 21st centuries). Composition three is an innovative free composition.

Unit 6 (A) – Listening and analysis: 45 minutes listening exam based on extracts of unfamiliar 20/21st century music, followed by a 90 minutes listening/written exam requiring candidates to analyse a set work and place within a broader perspective or

Unit 6 (B) – Listening and analysis: 45 minutes listening exam based on extracts of unfamiliar 20/21st century music, followed by 90 minutes listening/written exam requiring candidates to analyse a set work and place within a broader perspective, followed by 45 minutes written exam requiring the students to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the overall musical style and output of one of the set work composers. Candidates will be required to demonstrate their competence in written communication in Unit 6 where they are required to produce extended material.

Entry requirements

The basic requirement is five GCSEs at grade C with Maths or English (English preferably at  grade B).  Students must play at a grade 5 standard to start this course.

Future opportunities

Music at A Level can be combined successfully with most other A Level subjects. It is a suitable subject for progression to a BMus Degree or to a degree course in which Music forms part of a BA. It is very useful for those intending to teach, and can lead to a career in the recording industry, arts administration and performing arts. We are successful in getting students into several conservatoires including Guildhall and the Royal Academy.

Further information

We encourage all students to practise, watch and be around music as much as possible. Make it a part of your world and you can understand it in greater detail. It is also advised that seeing live professional music will enhance your understanding and ability. In support of this the College works with the Truro 3 Arts society to put on 6 high calibre concerts with international artistes which are free for A Level students to attend.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Truro and Penwith College directly.

Last updated date: 15 June 2016

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