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Music A'Level at Newstead Wood School

Course description

Awarding Body: Edexcel

Course content

Candidates are required to develop and demonstrate their musicianship skills through performing, composing and appraising.

Component 1: Performing

You will work independently, with support from your instrumental teacher and the Music department, to prepare a recital lasting a minimum of 8 minutes. You will perform at various points throughout the course, in preparation for the final assessed public recital in April of Year 13. You can perform as a soloist or as part of an ensemble, in any style or genre and on any instrument/voice.

Component 2: Composing

You will develop your composing skills in a number of styles, leading to a submission of two pieces. The length of the two compositions combined must be over 6 minutes in total.

Composition 1 (at least 4 minutes in duration) Free composition or choose a brief linked to the Areas of Study (set by Edexcel in September of year 13) 

Composition 2 (at least 1 minute in duration) o The second composition must be from a list of briefs assessing compositional technique, which are set by Edexcel on 1 April of year 13. This part of the portfolio will be completed under controlled conditions in 6 hours. The four briefs will always include: Bach chorale, Two-part counterpoint, Arrangement, Remix.

Component 3: Appraising

Students will develop knowledge and understanding of musical elements, musical contexts and musical language. They will apply their knowledge through studying 6 areas of study, each with 3 set works. The areas of study are: Vocal Music, Popular Music and Jazz, Instrumental Music, Fusions, Music for Film, New Directions.

Section A: Areas of study and dictation (50 marks)

  • Three questions related to the set works (audio and skeleton score provided).
  • One short melody/rhythm completion exercise.

Section B: Extended response 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.

Entry requirements

A* - A grade at Music GCSE. At least grade 5 on their first instrument. Students that do not meet both of these requirements, but have passed grade 6 or above on their first instrument, may still be considered.


Component 1: Performing Externally Assessed 30%

Component 2: Composing Externally Assessed 30%

Component 3: Appraising 2 hour Examination 40%

Future opportunities

Music is an excellent basis for further academic study, both in Music and in other subject areas. Its breadth is valuable to both arts/humanities and science/mathematics candidates in higher education or employment and is often recognised as highly developing skills of communication, self-management, teamwork, problem solving and application of numeracy. Students in year 12 are invited to apply for positions of Music Subject Leaders. Their roles include running student led ensembles, organising concerts, arranging for professional musicians to give talks and performances at school and to generally promote the subject.

Further information

A level Music results at Newstead are constantly high. In 2016:

  • 100% of year 12 students who took AS Music achieved an A grade.
  • 100% of year 13 students achieved A*-B grades at the end of year 13.

Recent A level students have gone on to study music at:

  • University of Cambridge
  • Royal College of Music
  • University of Manchester
  • Guildhall School of Music and Drama

There are regular concerts and a wide range of orchestras, ensembles, bands and choirs to take part in. We also offer individual tuition in a wide range of instruments. We have a purpose built Music department, which provides a perfect setting for these extra-curricular activities.

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 03 November 2016
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