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Music A level at The Holy Cross School

Course description

A Level Music builds on the three essential components which are studied throughout Secondary curriculum; Performing, Composing and Listening and Appraising. The course is designed to build on what students have learnt at GCSE and it is an excellent opportunity for students to put their musical skills to use in an academic and practical way. Throughout the course, students study music from different eras including the vocal music of Bach and Mozart, instrumental music from Berlioz and Vivaldi, Music for Film, popular music including jazz, and music of the avant-garde 20th Century. Students also study compositional techniques in set styles and will be expected to perform a range of repertoire in front of a live audience.

Course content

Unit 1: Performing 30% – Students perform one or more pieces in a concert at the College lasting for a minimum of 8 minutes.

Unit 2: Composing 30% – This is organised in two parts:

1) A composition either to a brief or a free composition (40 marks)

2) A technical study based on either an arrangement of a melody or a Chorale in the style of J. S. Bach (20 marks)

Both parts must last in total at least 6 minutes.

Unit 3: Appraising 40% – A two-hour examination in two parts. This exam covers a wide range of music genres and styles, each with three set works. 
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

Grade B or above in GCSE Music, if taken. Playing an instrument/singing to Grade 5 standard is essential. Students who believe they are at this standard but have not yet passed the exam must inquire instead. Students need to be able to read stave notation (treble and/or bass clef) fluently. An interest and open-minded approach to all styles of music, as well as an ability to compose and write about music (to GCSE standard) is useful.


Performance (30%) – completed during the course and externally examined.

Composition (30%) – completed during the course and externally examined.

Appraising exam (40%) - externally examined.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact The Holy Cross School directly.

Last updated date: 11 October 2017

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