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A Level Music

This course allows you to study music as a practical, intellectual and creative subject with an emphasis on performing and composing. You will have some instrumental ability and a keen interest in music.

Entry Requirements

A minimum of five GCSEs at grades A*-C, including English Language and usually Mathematics. Typically, you will be around Grade 5 standard on an instrument and have passed GCSE Music (although this is not essential) and/or Grade 5 Theory.

Course Content

Year One  (3 units)

Unit 1 – Performing Music: In this unit you will be given the opportunity to perform as soloist and/or as part of an ensemble. You can choose music in any style. Any instrument(s) and/or voice(s) are acceptable as part of a 5-6 minute assessed performance. You may submit a notated and/or improvised performance.

Unit 2 – Composing: This unit will encourage you to develop your compositional skills leading to the creation of a final 3 minute piece, you will be able to choose a composition from a selection of four options. You will also write a description of various aspects of your composition and explain how other pieces may have influenced it.

Unit 3 – Developing Musical Understanding: This unit focuses on listening to and understanding how music works. You will do this by studying set works from the Edexcel New Anthology of Music. You will also learn to use a score to identify features of music such as harmony and key/tonality, and then apply what you have learned to the completion of a short passage of four part harmony.

Year two (3 units)

Unit 4 – Extended Performance: Here you will be given the opportunity to extend your performance skills as a soloist and/or as part of an ensemble. Again you may choose music in any style. Any instrument(s) and/or voice(s) are acceptable as part of a 12-15 minute assessed performance of a balanced programme of music. You may submit a notated and/or improvised performance.

Unit 5 – Composition and Technical Study: This unit has two sections – Composition and Technical Study. The composition section further develops your skills in composition, leading to the creation of a final three minute piece chosen from a selection given briefs. The technical study builds on the knowledge of harmony you gained in Unit 3. You must complete two tasks in this unit, choosing from either one composition and one technical study or two compositions or two technical studies.

Unit 6 – Further Musical Understanding: There are three sections to this unit, assessed through a two hour exam paper. Section A – aural analysis, Section B – music in context and Section C – a study of Instrumental Music chosen from the New Anthology of Music. This unit develops the skills you learnt in Unit 3.

How will I be taught?

You will attend classes in composition, performance, listening, understanding and harmony. In addition, you will study rudiments, and all students benefit from coached ensemble classes and are expected to be in the College Choir.

How will I be assessed?

Assessment is by taped performance, coursework performance, coursework composition and a written paper (listening and understanding).

Will I need any extra equipment?

In general these are provided by the College. The College does not provide instruments.

What qualifications will I get?

Upon successful completion of both courses, you will be awarded an A Level in the subject studied.

What will it allow me to do in the future?

For exceptional performances a music conservatoire course, or you may study for a degree in music or other subject at university. Typical careers include teaching and performing, music theory, music and the media – advertising/TV etc.

Course Information

Concerts are an important part of College life and you are expected to be fully involved in these activities.

Students, aged over 19 on the 1 September of the year the course commences will be required to pay tuition and assessment fees. If you are in receipt of an income based benefit please ask about financial assistance, which may be available.

Please contact Customer Services on 0800 056 0511 or email customerservices@southdowns.ac.uk for further information.

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