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Music AS/A Level at Brockenhurst College

Course description

For many students taking Music as one of their AS levels is an obvious choice: they usually have invested many years learning an instrument, listening to music and studying the subject. However, it should also be remembered that whatever future area of study, or career the student intends to pursue, studying music is evidence of creativity and discipline and therefore is highly respected by university entrance panels and employers.

This course is for students who have an active interest in performing music – and are also interested in other aspects of music: composing music, listening to and analysing music, and studying the history of music from a range of periods and styles. The course is designed for students who have a background in classical music; however, other styles, including jazz, are studied on the course.

Course content

You will study music from 3 perspectives: performing, composing & listening/analysing:

In the 1st year you will complete three units:

  • Performance – you will have instrumental lessons, accompaniment sessions, and performance coaching and workshops that lead to a recital on your 1st study instrument (or voice) plus a 2nd shorter recital on a 2nd instrument.
  • Composition – you will complete an original composition (normally performed and recorded by a professional instrumental ensemble) plus a portfolio of composition exercises.  These are normally done using Sibelius software on Apple Mac computers.
  • Listening & Analysing – this is an introduction to the historical study of music. You will look at 2 styles of music: the Classical/Early Romantic period and Jazz of the Twentieth Century. Within each period there will be a number of ‘set works’ which you will study in detail. You will also study the historical context of these pieces. Skills developed in this unit are listening, analysing and writing about music.

In the 2nd year you will complete a further 3 units:

  • Performance – this again involves a recital on your first study instrument or voice. (The recital is longer than in the first year and is expected to be at a higher level).
  • Composition – in the second year you complete another original composition and another set of composition exercises.
  • Listening and Analysing – in this unit you will study a new ‘set period’ of music history, looking at a particular genre of music. You will also be tested on your listening skills, plus an opportunity to discuss your general musical understanding.

This course will allow you to develop your musical skills in performance, listening and analysing, and composing. 

Music studied will be, for the most part, in the Western Classical tradition; however, you will also study Jazz of the Twentieth Century. 

The AS course requires you to perform a short recital on your main instrument (or voice); to compose an original work for instruments, and a portfolio of composition exercises; and to study a range of set works – three Classical works and three Jazz works. 

You are entitled to free instrumental (or vocal) tuition and are encouraged to take part in the College's instrumental ensembles, choir, and other productions.  You should be able to play a traditional instrument at a minimum of Grade V standard as well as having a good understanding of music theory.

Entry requirements

If you do not have Grade 5 Theory (Associated Board) you should take Music Theory as part of the enrichment programme. 

You also should participate in at least 1 of the college musical ensembles.

Performance is a required unit within this course and you must be having regular lessons on your 1st study instrument or voice. The college is normally able to offer tuition free of charge, or if you wish you can make your own private arrangements.


The assessment of units is the same for both AS and A2 qualifications:
Performance work is assessed in a practical exam during the second term.
Composition work is a coursework submission.
Historical Study (listening & analysing) is assessed by a written exam in May/June.

Financial information

You will need to buy 1 textbook for the course, which costs approximately £20. 

Lessons on your first study instrument are free and lessons on further instruments (or voice) are subsidised.

Composition work is normally supported by professional musicians, giving workshops and also performing and recording student work. A small charge is made for these workshops.

There are a number of concert trips organised each year. These support the work that is done by studying set works. Costs will vary for each concert.

Future opportunities

Music A level is accepted by institutions of Higher Education as a sound academic A-Level, enabling you to take a degree in a vast range of subjects.  Universities and employers value greatly a student’s musical training and qualifications and this becomes a very well respected element of any student’s CV.

If you want to go on to take Music as a subject at university or music college, this A level is essential.

During the last few years’ students have gone on from Brockenhurst to The Guildhall School of Music, The Royal Academy of Music and Drama, The Trinity School of Music, The Royal Northern School of Music, The Royal Scottish Academy of Music, the prestigious Tonnmeister degree course at Surrey University as well as a diverse range of different universities including Oxford and Cambridge.

Further information

This is a friendly course: great friendships develop amongst music students as you are likely to spend many lunchtimes together rehearsing for concerts and recitals.  You will be encouraged to join in lots of musical groups.  There is a choir, and various ensembles including a chamber orchestra, music theatre orchestra, percussion ensemble & samba band, jazz band and brass ensemble.

What other subjects? Music works very well with just about any combination of other subjects.  Students often include Music as a contrast to Science-based or Humanity-based programmes; alternatively many students include AS Music as one of a number of creative subjects. (There is no reason why students should not take both Music and Music Technology – although we recommend that students speak to Music Department staff regarding this combination.)

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Brockenhurst College directly.

Last updated date: 18 February 2016

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