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Music A Level at Stratton Upper School

Course description

Many students who study Music in Sixth Form do so in order to continue their passion for the subject at university or conservatoire level in the pursuit of fulfilling professional careers as performers or composers, or indeed in order to train as a Music teacher at primary or secondary level. However, there are also many students who take the subject due to a passion for music either through performing or composing and they find this subject complements their other studies, for example, Music and Maths or Physics surprisingly go together very well!

You should absolutely consider studying Music at A Level if you are regularly playing your instrument and have either passed or are of a similar standard to Grade 5 or above. Taking GCSE Music is not a pre-requisite but can help in terms of music theory and general understanding.

Music is a well-recognized, highly employable subject to have on your CV, showing future employers that you have the skills and discipline required to study this academic course. There are plenty of opportunities for you to further develop your performing skills alongside class opportunities. For example, you can perform in the extracurricular groups at Stratton such as string group, concert band and vocal group. In addition, there are concerts and school events which allow you to develop your skills in performing to an audience, for example, the annual school Prizegiving evening and Departmental concerts.

Course content


You develop confidence, performance and compositional study, as well as traditional harmony so you can develop composition writing. You will also work on listening and analytical skills to recognise key changes, chords and key features of music, including how to analyse music in detail.


This is a two year course and you will be assessed on all units during the summer of the second year.  The units are as follows:

Unit 1: Performing – a public recital lasting around 10 minutes on your chosen instrument(s).

Unit 2: Composing – two compositions; one in response to a brief set by the exam board, one free composition of your choice.

Unit 3: Appraising – a 2 hour listening exam which assesses your understanding of musical language and contexts.  The 6 areas of study for this paper consist of Vocal Music, Instrumental (“classical”) Music, Music for Film, Popular Music and Jazz, Fusions and New Directions (contemporary ‘Art’ music).  Some pieces of music from these areas include a selection of Bach’s Cantatas, Clara Schuman’s Piano Trio in G minor, Danny Elfman’s Batman score, tracks from Courtney Pine’s innovative album Back in the Day, Anoushka Shankar’s Breathing Under Water and Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.


Performance – 30%
Composing – 30%
Appraising – 40%

Future opportunities

Studying Music can not only lead to further education in Music, it is also a good accompanying subject, highlighting creativity and commitment. Studying Music can lead to careers as a teacher, performer, composer, conductor or music librarian. It is also a desirable subject for those applying for graduate schemes as it involves academia, creativity and group interaction.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Stratton Upper School directly.

Last updated date: 12 September 2017
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