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A level Music Years 12 & 13

Specification

Edexcel - The specification and assessment structure can be found at the link: https://qualifications.pearson.com/en/qualifications/edexcel-a-levels/music-2016.html#tab-0

This course is designed to inspire the next generation of students in forming personal and meaningful relationships with music through the development of musical knowledge, understanding and skills. Students will be encouraged to engage critically and creatively with a wide range of music and musical contexts.

The course allows students to study music as a practical, intellectual and creative subject. It recognises that we live in an age of cultural diversity and the Areas of Study cover a wide range of music: classical, world, popular, film and jazz. Each area is seen within a broader cultural and historical context.

Key Features

  • A flexible course that encourages diverse approaches to the teaching of music.
  • A broad range of Areas of Study.
  • An holistic approach to the teaching and assessment of music at A Level.
  • Encourages the use of music technology as a compositional tool.
  • A Level Music is excellent preparation for all higher education courses.

Studying Music at A Level provides an excellent pathway to University with admissions tutors looking for well-rounded students with cultural and creative awareness. Universities regard A Level Music as one of the strong academic qualifications relevant to any degree course because of the wide ranging high level skills required. In fact, music is the only subject to provide all seven skills identified by the Confederate of British Industry that define employability: self-management, team work, business and customer awareness, problem solving, numeracy and ICT. The music and entertainment industry is big business in the UK providing over 6% GDP and A Level Music could pave the way to any career within the industry. These might include artist management, accountancy, copyright law, events management, journalism, performer, publisher, sound engineer, teacher, tv/ radio presenter. Perhaps most importantly Music is a skill for life and provides opportunity for enjoyment, leisure, participation and social interaction.

Our course also provides many opportunities to perform in a wide variety of musical styles with many ensembles. There are also opportunities to work and meet with industry professionals and attend workshops and concerts to deepen awareness and understanding.

Units of work

There are three units in A Level music and it is 100% externally assessed. The qualification consists of one written paper and two non-examined assessments as follows:

Component 1: Performing (30%)

Total performance time of 8 minutes.

Performance can be a solo and/or ensemble

Component 2: Composing (30%) 2 compositions. Choice of 1 free composition or a composition from a choice of set briefs.  There will also be a composition assessing musical techniques.  The total time for the composition component is 6 minutes.

Component 3: Appraising (40%)

2 hour Exam

6 areas of study with 3 set works in each:

  • Vocal music
  • Instrumental music
  • Music for film
  • Popular music and jazz
  • Fusions
  • New directions

The set works are:

Vocal Music

J. S. Bach - Cantata, Ein feste Burg, BWV 80: Movements 1, 2, 8.

Mozart - The Magic Flute: Excerpts from Act I no. 4 (Queen of the Night), 5 (Quintet).

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

Instrumental Music

Vivaldi - Concerto in D minor, Op. 3 No. 11.

C Schumann - Piano Trio in G Minor: Movement 1.

Berlioz - Symphonie Fantastique: Movement 1.

Music for Film

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

Rachel Portman - The Duchess: The Duchess, Mistake of your life, Six years later, Never see your children again.

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.

Popular music and Jazz

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

Courtney Pine – Back in the Day Album: Inner state (of mind), Lady Day (John Coltrane), Love and Affection.

Kate Bush – Hounds of Love Album: Cloudbusting, And Dream of Sheep, Under Ice.

Fusions

Debussy -‘Estampes: Nos. 1 and 2 (‘Pagodes’ and ‘La soiree dans Grenade’).

Famililia Valera Miranda – Cana Quema: Se quema la chumbamba, Alla va candela.

Anoushka Shankar – Breathing Under Water Album: Burn, Breathing Under Water, Easy.

New Directions

Cage – Three Dances for two prepared pianos: No. 1.

Saariaho -  Petals for Cello Solo and Optional Electronics.

Stravinsky - The Rite of Spring; Introduction, The Augurs of Spring, Ritual of Abduction.

 

Year 12

  Topic Further details about the topic Skills
Autumn Term
1 Performance Students will prepare a solo performance and participate in a recital to develop understanding of the marking criteria. Performance; rehearsal technique and specific instrumental / vocal techniques.
2

Composing

Students will be given a short introductory task to introduce the composition marking criteria. They will then be introduced to the composition tasks set by the exam board and investigate ideas for their own composition.

Melody technique; structures in music; harmonic repertoire; resources and arrangement.
  Developing Musical Understanding This unit is split into three parts to be assessed in the exam a) aural skills b) analysis of set works from the anthology c) chords and lines.
  1. This unit develops skills from GCSE.  Students will develop their ability to recognise key musical features aurally from the set works.
  2. Ten set pieces of music will be studied from instrumental and vocal repertoire. Students will develop the ability to analyse a score, recognise and discuss key musical features as well as explain the context of the music.
  3. Students will develop knowledge of keys and modulation as well as understanding chords in four part harmony.
Spring Term
1 Performance

Students will prepare a 5 – 6 minute recital on their main instrument or voice to be recorded for the examinations.

Instrumental techniques, accuracy of pitch and rhythm; intonation and communication skills.
2

Composition

Students will prepare and complete their composition from a given brief.

Quality of ideas; coherence and structure; forces and textures; harmony; melody and rhythm.

  Developing Musical Understanding During this term the study of set works will be completed. Aural skills will be refined and theory developed further for the chords and lines question. Aural skills; analysis and quality of written communication in essays and theory skills.
Summer Term
1

Composition

Students will prepare for a ‘sleeve note’ exam in which they have to describe the form and structure, rhythm, melody, harmony, texture and handling of instruments

Written skills to explain creative choices.

2

Developing Musical Understanding

Students will revise the set works and complete practice papers in preparation for the main summer exam.

Aural skills; analysis and quality of written communication in essays and theory skills. 

Year 13

  Topic Further details about the topic Skills
Autumn Term
1

Performance

Students will prepare a solo performance and participate in a recital to develop understanding of the marking criteria.

Performance; rehearsal technique and specific instrumental/ vocal techniques.

2

Composing

Students will be given a short introductory task to introduce the composition marking criteria. They will then be introduced to the composition tasks set by the exam board and investigate ideas for their own composition. They will also develop their knowledge of four part harmony for the second examination task.

Melody technique; structures in music; harmonic repertoire; resources and arrangement.

Knowledge of modulation to more distant keys. Use of chromatic chords.

  Further Musical Understanding This unit is split into two parts to be assessed in the exam a) aural skills b) analysis of set works from the anthology.
  1. This unit develops skills from AS. Students will develop their ability to recognise key musical features aurally from western classical music
  2. 10 set pieces of music will be studied from instrumental and vocal repertoire. Students will develop the ability to analyse a score, recognise and discuss key musical features as well as explain the context of the music.
Spring Term
1 Performance

Students will prepare a 12 – 15 minute recital at Grade 6 standard which will be performed to an invited audience and recorded for the examiner.

Instrumental techniques, accuracy of pitch and rhythm; intonation and communication skills.

2

Composing

Students will prepare and complete their composition from a given brief. They will also continue their studies of JS Bach and four part harmony.

Quality of ideas; coherence and structure; forces and textures; harmony; melody and rhythm.
  Further Musical Understanding Study of the set works will be completed. Aural skills will be refined. Aural skills; analysis and quality of written communication in essays.
Summer Term
1

Composing

Further Musical Understanding

Students will complete a theory exam paper.

Students will revise the set works and complete practice papers in preparation for the main summer exam.

Bach Chorales

Aural skills; analysis and quality of written communication in essays.

Assessments

Resources Topic Type of assessment
CAT 1 Performance Solo performance
CAT 2

Developing Musical Understanding

Aural test; essay question paper; theory test
CAT 3 Developing Musical Understanding

Mock Examination

CAT 4

Performance

Solo performance
CAT 5

Further Musical Understanding

Aural test; essay question paper and theory test

CAT 6 Further Musical Understanding Mock Examination

Main Resources

Resource Details Term
Set texts

AS Music Study Guide

A2 Music Study Guide

All
Recommended reading The AB guide to Music Theory Book 1  
Recommended Websites

Edexcel

All
Equipment Instrument/ Associated Board or other exam board music All

Enrichment opportunities

Activity Day and time or term
Concert Band  
Big Band  
Orchestra  
School Choir  
Jazz Combos  

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