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Music AS & A Level at St Brendan's Sixth Form College

Course description

A-Level Music has a three-unit structure and is taken over two years.  It follows the structure of Music GCSE. A wide range of music is studied and performances and compositions can be in any musical style/genre.

The areas studied and the scheme of assessment is outlined below:

  • Component  1: Performing (30%)
    Performing solo and or ensemble performance totaling eight minutes in a recital environment
  • Component 2: Composing (30%)
    Two compositions, one free or to a brief given by the exam board lasting no less than 4 minutes.
    Composition 2 can be to a brief based on specific compositional techniques lasting no less than 1 min.
    Total time: 6 minutes minimum
  • Component 3: Appraising (40%)
    Section A:  Aural and dictation based on areas of study
    Section B: 2 essay questions based on areas of study and comparison with one new piece

Course content

The A-level Music course requires a high standard of music theory. All students will have to take additional music theory to support their studies. We offer additional Music Theory support classes for students to work through ABRSM Music Theory graded workbooks, leading to an exam in Music Theory, with accompanying UCAS points for grade 6 and above.  All students should aim to be at grade 5 Music theory by the middle of the 1st year of study.

As performing to a high standard is such an important aspect of the course it is essential that all students have instrumental/voice lessons.  Lessons are available in College and further information is available for tutors.  We have a wide range of peripatetic music teachers at College, but can also recommend teachers with specific specialisms if required.  All students must continue with these external lessons throughout the duration of the course.

Entry requirements

  • A minimum of 5 GCSE’s at Grades A*-C or at point 4-9 (including English Language). Level 2 vocational qualifications (e.g. BTEC/OCR) must be a merit grade or above and will count as 1 GCSE equivalent.
  • Music GCSE at Grade C/ point 4 is desirable but not essential. Grade 4/5 instrumental/voice skills or ability to perform to that level or above is essential.
  • Previous ensemble playing experience would be advantageous. You will need to demonstrate a level of theory understanding at grade 4 (ABRSM) or above, and undertake the grade 5 Music theory exam through your own independent study and through college support workshops by the end of the first academic year.


The course will be assessed through a combination of coursework, written examinations and performances.

Financial information

There is a charge for instrumental lessons (private or in college) and all students are expected to be taking these throughout the course although bursary funding may be available where appropriate.  Students will be expected to provide their own stationery (including manuscript paper) memory sticks, headphones and theory books.  Some of these items are available from the College Stationery Shop.

Future opportunities

The A Level provides a sound basis for students wishing to proceed to Higher Education courses in Music or Performing Arts.  It can lead to careers in teaching, performing, composition and music therapy as well as related areas in publishing and media.  A level Music is highly regarded by universities as it requires a high level of academic and also creative skill. It is on the list of subjects favorably looked upon by Oxford and Cambridge. 

Further information

St Brendan’s has a well-equipped Music Suite that includes:

  • Extended practice facilities
  • A Pro Tools 11 based recording studio and related equipment
  • A range of scores and recordings
  • Instruments including a grand piano, guitars, drums, keyboards etc.
  • Computer Suite with relevant music software for sequencing (Pro Tools 11). Score production (Sibelius 7) and Ear training software (Aurelia)
  • A wide range of peripatetic support specialists
  • Fully equipped performance space including substantial sound and lighting systems for recitals and performance workshops. 

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact St Brendan's Sixth Form College directly.

Last updated date: 24 October 2016

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