Why study A Level Music? 

The A Level Music course is intended to allow students to pursue musical interests and develop a breadth of understanding over a wide range of styles and genres. It provides an excellent basis for lifelong learning and for higher education courses in music. At A Level, students investigate, analyse and evaluate music and its features through a holistic experience of the main musical disciplines of performing, composing, listening and appraising, while developing skills applicable to a wide range of career paths.

How will I be assessed?

  • A Level Performance consists of a recital of no less than eight minutes in length, on the candidate’s chosen instrument(s), to be performed between March and May of the examination year. Performances may be solo, part of an ensemble, or a combination of the two. The recital is recorded internally and marked externally. This component is worth 30% of the overall marks.
  • A Level Composition consists of two composition tasks: one own-choice composition of at least four minutes and one technical composition to a brief set by the exam board, demonstrating technical and contextual understanding of composition skills. A score and sound file are submitted for external marking. This component is worth 30% of the overall marks.
  • The Listening and Appraising unit is an examination is worth 40% of the overall marks for the course, based on knowledge and understanding from the six diverse Areas of Study. Candidates are required to demonstrate their musical knowledge and understanding of style and context through the study of set works and related wider listening material covered in each Area of Study.


  • A Grade 5 or higher at GCSE Music (or equivalent) is advisable, although exceptions may be made where a candidate can demonstrate strong practical skills.
  • A performance standard of at least Grade 5 is recommended on the candidate’s chosen instrument(s), 
  • ABRSM Grade 5 Theory is desirable and would give a strong foundation to the course. If you do not have that level, we would ask that you work towards securing your music theory knowledge prior to starting the course. Support in this can be made available through extra-curricular provision.

What skills will I gain from studying Music?

  • The A Level course will provide an opportunity to further develop your performance, composition, aural and appraisal skills.
  • Students learn about the stylistic and contextual features of a wide range of music and how to analyse and think critically about music, developing an insight into how composers work.
  • Students will gain important skills in using Music Technology and how it is used within the industry for the creation and presentation of music. The Department is fully equipped with Sibelius and Cubase in the Production Suite and Studio to assist students with this.
  • Students develop as effective, independent learners who can reflect critically and make informed judgements on their own and others’ music.

Where can Music lead?

Admission to Universities or Conservatoires of Music; careers in performing; teaching; music management; publishing; studio/live work; composing for film and television.

Universities look favourably on students who have committed to the disciplines of regular practise, extra-curricular involvement and the regimen of regular practise, self-reflection and improvement; transferable skills which demonstrate positive attributes for further study in any course.

Additional Comment

All A Level Music students are expected to attend an extra-curricular ensemble which supports their main instrument, as well as attending one of the choirs for the development of aural skills. The cost of lessons on the candidate’s chosen first instrument are covered by the school, where lessons are taken within school.

What will I study?

Unit 1: Performance (30%)

Recital – 8 minutes (min.)

Unit 2: Composition (30%)

Composition 1: Free Brief

Composition 2: Technical Brief

Unit 3: Listening and Appraising (40%)

Examination – 2 hours 10 minutes

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