Studying Advanced Level Music at King Solomon Academy
Why study Music?
Music perfectly combines creativity with academic rigour and discipline. Studying Music at AS and A level provides the opportunity for pupils to develop composition, musical understanding and instrumental skills, and develops directly out of the Music GCSE. It also requires the pupil to draw from their knowledge of a broad range of other subjects in order to deepen their understanding of the subject as a whole. Music is the perfect subject to study alongside other academic subjects and demonstrates to universities and future employers the breadth of skills, creativity and knowledge possessed by a pupil.
What will we study at AS?
Unit 1: PERFORMANCE Solo or ensemble performance of 5-6 minutes.
Unit 2: COMPOSING
Section A: compose a three-minute piece of either vocal or instrumental music to a given brief.
Section B: 3 questions on the composition written for Section A, completed under controlled conditions in 1 hour.
Unit 3: DEVELOPING MUSICAL UNDERSTANDING
Section A: ‘Listening’: Questions on aural extracts based on the candidate’s study of 9 vocal and instrumental prescribed works from 1550 to the present day.
Section B: ‘Investigating Musical Styles’: more in-depth study of a selection of the prescribed works. Two questions will be asked.
Section C: ‘Understanding Chords and Lines’: candidates analyse simple harmonic and melodic features in a score and complete a simple SATB texture.
How is our learning assessed at AS?
Unit 1: PERFORMANCE The performance is internally assessed by King Solomon Academy, and moderated by Edexcel
Unit 2: COMPOSING The composition and written responses are completed during learning hours, but are externally assessed by Edexcel
Unit 3: DEVELOPING MUSICAL UNDERSTANDING Examination in June, marked by Edexcel
What will we study at A2?
Unit 4: EXTENDED PERFORMANCE Solo or ensemble performance of 12-15 minutes.
Unit 5: COMPOSITION AND TECHNICAL STUDY Candidates must complete two tasks from a selection of composition or technical study topics. These will be completed in controlled conditions.
Unit 6: FURTHER MUSICAL UNDERSTANDING
Section A: ‘Aural analysis’: questions on unfamiliar aural extracts from the two areas of study ‘Instrumental Music’ and ‘Applied Music’.
Section B: ‘Music in context’: questions on the set works in Area of Study 3, ‘Applied Music’.
Section C: Continuity and change in instrumental music’: questions relate to the set works in Area of Study 1, ‘Instrumental Music’: candidates study continuity and change within the group of pieces.
How is our learning assessed at A2?
Unit 4: EXTENDED PERFORMANCE The performance is assessed internally by King Solomon Academy, and then moderated by Edexcel
Unit 5: COMPOSITION AND TECHNICAL STUDY These will be completed in controlled conditions and are externally assessed
Unit 6: FURTHER MUSICAL UNDERSTANDING Examination in June, marked by Edexcel
Which subjects complement a study of Music?
Music has links with every other subject, and excellently complements both the mathematical and scientific subjects, particularly maths and physics; as well as the humanities, such as history. As an art form it is a great partner to English literature, and as a form of communication it forms a strong connection with any language studied at A level.
What could I do next with an A level qualification in Music?
Music can be studied at university in a variety of forms. An academic degree in Music would be a direct progression from the A level course, focusing initially on musicology, performance and composition, and then providing pupils with the options to specialise.
Other Music courses at universities could be more focused on a particular area from the start, and may be more career-focused, for example:
• Music production/technology
• Music business/management
• Popular music
• Musical theatre
• Music journalism
Music can also be combined with many other subjects at university such as Maths, English, History and languages, allowing pupils to maintain the breadth of study that they may enjoy.
Pupils with exceptional skill and talent in performance can continue their instrumental studies at a music conservatoire such as the Royal Academy of Music. Their level of performance would need to be above Grade 8 by the time they apply for the course.
Which skills will I be developing through studying Music?
• High level instrumental skills
• Performance and presentation skills
• Analytical and interpretation skills
• Historical understanding
• Understanding of music theory
• Use of technology such as Logic and Sibelius
Are there any extra-curricular opportunities to support my study of Music?
AS and A Level pupils are part of the Upper School orchestra, performing both in and outside of school, and joining the annual international tour every summer.
They also have the opportunity to be part of:
• Chamber music groups
• Regular trips to concerts, musicals and plays at internationally renowned venues
• Leading younger year ensembles
• Teaching younger pupils instrumental skills
What are the KSA requirements for entry onto the course?
• At least a Grade B in GCSE Music
• Be working towards or above Grade 5 on an instrument
• Be working towards or above Grade 5 theory