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Music A-Level at Dr Challoner's High School

Course description

Those who study Music develop confidence, resilience and perseverance. They are people who are willing to work hard, pay attention to detail and take risks. They are good team-players and problem-solvers and adaptable to a variety of situations.

Course content


Unit 1 Performing (30%)

The standard level of performing for AS is Grade 5. 5-6 minute performance on any instrument/voice; this may include solo and/or ensemble performance.

Unit 2 Composing (30%) (completed under controlled conditions)

One 3 minute composition based on one of four briefs, submitted with an analytical CD sleeve note.

Unit 3 Developing Musical Understanding (40%) (2hr examination)

Learning how to listen to music in order understand how it works. This is assessed in 3 sections in which you will learn how to:

  • analyse set works through aural work and studying scores
  • identify chords aurally and on a score
  • write 4 part harmony

At AS, the 2 hr paper requires answers in note form and essay writing skills.


Unit 4 Extended Performance (30%)

The standard level of performing for A2 is Grade 6. 12-15 minute performance on any instrument/voice; this may include solo and/or ensemble performance.

Unit 5 Composition and Technical Study (30%) (completed under controlled conditions

This unit contains 2 separate areas in which to develop compositional skills: composition and composition techniques. Candidates must submit either two compositions, or two technical studies, or one of each.

  • Composition topics may be chosen from instrumental music and/or Applied music such as film, TV, dance and theatre.
  • Technical studies are Baroque counterpoint and chorale (four-part harmony).

Unit 6 Further Musical Understanding (40%) (2hr examination)

Listening to music, familiar and unfamiliar and analysing it aurally and from a score. There are 3 sections:

  • Aural analysis including chord recognition and simple dictation
  • Music in context – study of set works
  • Continuity and Change in Instrumental Music – study of set works. At A2, the 2 hr paper requires answers in prose and essay writing skills.

Entry requirements

Prospective students are required to achieve a minimum of 2 GCSEs or iGCSEs at grade A and a further 4 GCSEs or iGCSEs at grade B, including English Language and Mathematics.

Subject Specific

It is useful to have taken the subject at GCSE level - grade B minimum would be expected, but this is not essential. Grade 5 is required on any instrument for AS and Grade 6 for A2. Grade 5 theory is highly recommended.

Future opportunities

You do not need to have decided on a career in Music in order to justify studying it at university or college. The transferrable skills developed through studying and performing music are valuable in a multitude of career paths, musical or otherwise.

Many of those hoping to study Music beyond school will opt either for university, where there is a stronger focus on academic study, or music college, where the bias is towards performance work. Most universities offer good performing opportunities, composition and other practical courses such as music technology; some will offer instrumental/vocal tuition at a nearby conservatoire. Music can often be combined with other subjects such as Mathematics and Modern Languages. If it‘s a career in music you‘re after, it‘s tough to break into the world of professional performance but there are a number of openings for music graduates in broadcasting, journalism, music therapy, publishing, sound engineering, events management and teaching to name but a few. Music administration, orchestral management and education assistants with orchestras are also popular and rewarding careers.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Dr Challoner's High School directly.

Last updated date: 05 May 2015
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