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Music A Level at Ashfield School

Course description

A Level Music enables you to extend your knowledge and understanding of music and builds on much of the GCSE qualification. Students must play an instrument or sing and will need to demonstrate technical, interpretative and communication skills through performing music. You won’t necessarily have formal lessons, but PERFORMING IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE COURSE and instrumental lessons are highly advisable to access higher grades. You will also compose and develop your own musical ideas and study set musical works in detail and develop analysis skills that will enable you to access academic musical studies at degree level.

Entry requirements

GCSE Music grade B (Grade 5 Music Theory desirable if no GCSE Music), plus a Performing Standard of Grade 5 and above.


Component 1: Performing - 30% of the qualification - Non-examined; externally assessed. Component 2: Composing - 30% of the qualification - Non-examined; externally assessed. Component 3: Appraising - 40% of the qualification - Written examination; externally assessed.

Performing – You will need to produce a public performance of one or more pieces, performed as a recital. The performance can be playing or singing solo, in an ensemble, improvising, or realising music using music technology. Total performance time across all pieces must be a minimum of 8 minutes for A Level, 6 minutes for AS Level. During each year your teachers will ask you to participate in performance workshops to monitor your progress towards this element of the course.

Composing – You need to complete a total of two compositions for each qualification, one to a brief set by the exam board and one either free composition or also to a brief.

  • One composition must be from either a list of briefs related to the areas of study, or a free composition. This composition must be at least 4 minutes in duration for A Level, 2 minutes for AS.
  • One composition must be from a list of briefs assessing compositional technique in A Level. This composition must be at least 1 minute in duration for A Level, unless the brief specifies a longer minimum duration or 2 minutes in duration for AS.

Time across both submissions must be a minimum of 6 minutes A Level, 4 minutes 30 seconds for AS.

Appraising – You will develop knowledge and understanding of musical elements, contexts and language and demonstrate this in an exam with both listening and essay questions (90 minutes AS, 2 hours A Level) through the context of six areas of study, each with two or three set works

Future opportunities

The A Level course prepares you well for either an academic degree at university, where you will be likely to study the history of music, analysis, composition, performance and aesthetic thinking in music. It will equally prepare you for entry to a specialist music college or academy through the performance and music theory elements of the course.

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 10 October 2017

Key information

  • Start date: Next September
  • Duration: 2 years