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Music A and AS Level at William Howard School

Course description

AS/A Level Music is intended to give all students the opportunity to develop their knowledge, understanding and skills in music whatever their previous experience.

Course content

Its six-unit structure allows you to experience all three main musical disciplines of performing, composing and listening with understanding (appraising). The course has been designed to engage and extend your appreciation of the diverse and dynamic heritage of music.

Set Works – an engaging and varied range of set works to nurture indepth musical understanding: 

Vocal Music

  • J.S. Bach, Cantata, Ein feste Burg, BWV 80:Movements 1, 2 and 8
  • Mozart, The Magic Flute: Excerpts from Act 1 no. 4 (Queen of the Night), 5 (Quintet)

A level only:

  • Vaughan Williams, On Wenlock Edge: Nos. 1, 3 and 5 (‘On Wenlock Edge’, ‘Is my team ploughing?’ and ‘Bredon Hill’)


Instrumental Music

  • Vivaldi, Concerto in D minor, Op. 3 No. 11
  • Clara Wieck-Schumann, Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 17: Movement 1

A level only:

  • Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique: Movement 1 


Music for Film

  • Danny Elfman, Batman Returns: Main theme (Birth of a Penguin Part II), Birth of a Penguin Part I, Rise and fall from grace, Batman vs the Circus
  • Rachel Portman, The Duchess and End titles, Mistake of your life, Six years later, and Never see your children again

A level only:

  • Bernard Herrmann, Psycho: Prelude, The City, Marion, The Murder (Shower Scene), The Toys, The Cellar,
  • Discovery, Finale


Popular Music and Jazz

  • Courtney Pine, Back in the Day: Inner state (of mind), Lady Day and (John Coltrane), Love and affection
  • Kate Bush, Hounds of Love: Cloudbursting, And dream of sheep, Under Ice

A level only:

  • Beatles, Revolver: Eleanor Rigby, I’m only sleeping, Here, there and everywhere, I want to tell you, Tomorrow never knows 



  • Debussy, ‘Estampes’: Nos. 1 and 2 (‘Pagodes’ and ‘La soirée dans Grenade’)
  • Familia Valera Miranda, Caña Quema: ‘Allà va candela, and ‘Se quema la chumbambà’

A level only:

  • Anoushka Shankar, Breathing Under Water: Burn, Breathing Under Water, Easy


New Directions

  • Cage, Three Dances for two prepared pianos: No. 1
  • Kaija Saariaho, Petals of Violoncello and Live Electronics

A level only:

  • Stravinsky, Rite of Spring: Introduction, The Augurs of Spring, Ritual of Abduction 




6 minutes

Level 6 standard (approx)

A Level

8 minutes

Level 7 standard (approx)

  • Students can use the same piece(s) of music to perform at AS and A Level
  • Students can add to their performance at A Level due to the increase in the minimum time
  • The performance will have to be recorded again in the year of certification for the A Level
  • The work submitted will be marked to the different standards of AS and A Level 




4½ minutes minimum composition time

2 pieces – one to a brief and either one to a brief or a free composition 

A Level

6 minutes minimum composition time

2 pieces – either one to a brief or a free composition and one to a brief assessing technique 

  • Free composition in A Level can be resubmitted and developed from one of the pieces composed in AS Level
  • Compositions must be developed for 2 hours in the year of certification
  • The work submitted will be marked to the different standards of AS and A Level 




90 minute exam – 80 marks

6 Areas of Study with 2 set works 

Vocal Music, Instrumental Music, Music for Film, Popular Music and Jazz, Fusions, New Directions 

A Level

2 hour exam – 100 marks

6 Areas of Study with 3 set works

Vocal Music, Instrumental Music, Music for Film, Popular Music and Jazz, Fusions, New Directions 

  • Same Areas of Study used for AS and A Level
  • The AS set works are a subset of the A Level set works – common to both
  • AS appraising content and year 1 of the A Level appraising content are the same
  • In year 2 of the A Level you will need to revisit the AS set works in greater depth as well as learning about the additional 6 set works. 


Future opportunities

Music is both a creative and an academic subject, and to gain a qualification in it proves to any college, university or employer, that you are a special kind of person that can cope with the organisation, dedication and discipline. A professional in music can work in many areas; playing, composing, teaching, theatre, recording, TV/media to name a few. 

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact William Howard School directly.

Last updated date: 13 October 2016
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