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Music (IB Standard & Higher Level) at Bexley Grammar School

Course description


Candidates can opt to take the subject at Standard Level or Higher Level. The standard of work undertaken at both levels is comparable to the A-level but more time will be spent on the subject if studied at Higher Level and a higher standard will be expected of the student, particularly in performance. The music studied will be very varied ~ the bulk will come from the Western Classical tradition, but a range of world music, jazz and popular styles will also form part of the course.

Course content

This course is open to all students who are around grade 5 standard or above on an instrument or in singing, and you are required to achieve at least a B grade in GCSE Music.

In Music IB you will study the following units:


• Musical perception

• Creating

• Solo performing


• Musical perception

• Creating or Solo Performing or Group performing

Musical Perception 50% (HL and SL)

You will study a range of musical styles and be encouraged to make links and connections between the music you listen to. This will include popular music, jazz and world music, as well as music from the Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, 20th century eras of Western art music.

You will also study two prescribed works:

• "An American in Paris " by George Gershwin
Petite Messe Sonenelle by Rossini

This unit includes two sections :

Listening paper - 30% of overall grade (examined at the end of Year 13)

You will answer five (S) / seven (H) musical perception questions in exam conditions (100 marks)

Section A:  The questions in this section are based upon the prescribed works. Candidates can take unmarked scores of the prescribed works into the examination room. The first two questions are each based on one of the two prescribed works, and both the Standard and Higher Level candidates have a choice between the two. The third question is one in which you will compare musical elements in the two works.

Section B: The three questions in this section are based on extracts on an accompanying CD provided during the examinations. These can be from any time, period, genre or culture. Questions are usually along the lines of ‘Analyse, examine and discuss in detail what you hear in this extract’, and you are given credit for making intelligent suggestions and justifying your answers.

Section C (HIGHER only): The question in this section asks Higher Level candidates to compare and contrast two of the selections heard in "section B", with regard to two specific musical elements / links.

You will choose two contrasting pieces of music from distinct musical cultures, and write a ‘media script’ of no more than 2000 words which    investigates the significant musical links.  Mass media communication in the 21st century has many formats, such as radio, television, CD-ROM, Internet, printed article, or lecture .This shouldn’t be an essay; it can be in the form of a magazine article, radio show script, an online blog or website, or anything else you can come up with!

Performing (50% SL or 25% HL)

This is less prescriptive than A-Level; they are looking for musical performances, rather than for you to have reached a specific grade. You can perform on any instrument, in any style. Higher students record 20 minutes, and Standard record 15 minutes’ worth of music. It can be recorded in separate sessions throughout the course, and you can re-record as many times as you like!

Composition (50% SL or 25% HL)

Higher students will submit three pieces of work for their Composition portfolio, and Standard students submit two. You can choose from:

COMPOSITION (3-6 minutes): You choose the brief

ARRANGEMENT (3-6 minutes): You choose the stimulus, for example, a Christmas carol arranged for jazz quartet! It needs to be significantly different from the original.

IMPROVISATION (3-6 minutes): you will be recorded improvising, and this probably suits musicians who already improvise regularly, for example Indian raga or jazz

STYLISTIC TECHNIQUES: you complete 2 exercises of between 12-16 bars in length, following the rules of a specific style of music or composer. You can choose from:

• Bach Chorale
• Baroque Counterpoint
• Classical string quartet
• Romantic song accompaniment
• Serialist 12-tone exercise


Musical links investigation - 20% of overall grade
(SL AND HL Coursework; externally assessed)

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 04 October 2016
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