Music A Level at The Ashcombe School
Why study the subject?
Anyone who has a keen interest in creating and listening to different styles of music and who wishes to broaden their experience and deepen their understanding of live and recorded music would be suitable for this course. A-level Music develops the practical skills of performing and composing alongside listening to a variety of music and developing ideas about how and why it was written and/or performed. Whilst an artistic and practical subject, Music is recognised by universities as an academic A-level and provides a good step towards degrees in a wide range of subject areas including Sciences, Mathematics, Languages, Humanities and Arts. It is a requirement to have passed A-level music for most Higher Education music courses, but is also considered a valuable subject to take for entry other degree courses. Some information on past students’ projects can be found at http://musicatashcombe.blogspot.co.uk/p/ashcombe.html
At both AS and A-level, students study the three musical disciplines of performing, composing and listening and understanding. The use of Music Technology (computer sequencing, sampling and multi-tracking) is encouraged throughout the course and may be particularly appropriate for composition and arranging. The department is equipped with Cubase 7 and Sibelius 7.
Unit 1: Performance (30%):
In this unit you develop your skills as a performer through delivery of a performance of over six minutes. You can perform music in any style, on any instrument(s) and/or voice as a soloist and/or as part of an ensemble. Notated and/or improvised performances may be submitted.
Unit 2: Composition (30%):
In this unit you develop your skills by composing a minimum of two pieces. One will be written in response to a chosen brief, the other will be a free composition. Each piece must be a minimum of 4 minutes and 30 seconds long. There is a possibility that one brief may take the form of a technical study for which understanding of harmony and specific composing styles will be covered (note that this may only be at A-level, or may not be required).
Unit 3: Developing Musical Understanding (40%):
This unit focuses on listening to both familiar and unfamiliar music and understanding how it works. Students study a collection of set works from different musical styles and complete wider listening based on these styles. Additionally in this paper, students may use a score to identify harmonic and tonal features.
Unit 4: Performance (25-35%):
This unit gives students the opportunities to extend their performance skills by delivering a longer performance (more than 10 minutes) as soloists and/or as part of an ensemble. Again, you can perform music in any style, on any instrument(s) and/or voice as a soloist and/or as part of an ensemble. Notated and/or improvised performances may be submitted.
(There may be the opportunity to do a shorter performance and more compositions)
Unit 5: Composition (25-35%):
The composition section further develops students’ composition skills, leading to the creation of two pieces between six and ten minutes long. One will be written in response to a chosen brief, the other will be a free composition. There is a possibility that one brief may take the form of a technical study for which understanding of harmony and specific composing styles will be covered (note that this may only be at A-level, or may not be required).
Unit 6: Further Musical Understanding (40%):
This unit focuses on listening to music, familiar and unfamiliar, and understanding how it works. Set works from the anthology provide the focus for much of the unit. Students will also listen to a wide range of unfamiliar music. They will learn how to compare and contrast pairs of excerpts, contextualise music and identify harmonic and tonal features.
The music specifications have not yet been approved and are still in draft form. We are waiting for accredited specifications to be finalised, so course content is subject to change.
Grade C or above at GCSE. Candidates must be having lessons on their chosen instrument. Candidates are expected to participate in Music Department activities. Some understanding of the rudiments of Theory is needed for this course. Working at a Grade 5 level is very helpful.
How to apply
If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact The Ashcombe School directly.