A Level
2 years
Curriculum Manager: 
Andy Light

What is Music?

This course gives you the chance to develop and flourish as a musician through the study of a broad range of skills and concept.

You will perform regularly and be given numerous opportunities to perform in class for your peers and in public at a variety of venues.

You will get to compose your own music alongside studying harmony and you will be encouraged to explore the music you enjoy writing through diverse and creative tasks – e.g. film scores, songwriting and/or writing for orchestras.
You will also develop critical skills such as; the ability to read music more fluently through deciphering a broad range of scores and recordings (anything from classical to popular music); the ability to ‘hear’ music more effectively through the study of listening skills; and be taught analytical skills to help you understand a diverse range of genres.

Is Music suitable for me?

We encourage anybody with a love of music to study this course but some good indicators that Music is for you if you:

  • Enjoy participating in music outside of College, perhaps in a jazz band, a youth orchestra, a church choir or a rock band.
  • Enjoy listening to music and have a broad taste in music.
  • Enjoy writing your own music, no matter what it may be.

A level Music is a big step up from GCSE Music and therefore we recommend that all applicants are comfortable reading music - treble and bass clef not guitar tab. You will be expected to be at least Grade 5 performance standard (although you may not have taken the grade itself). You should be broadminded in your attitude towards all music genres.

Students with an interest in Jazz will find that the Specialist Jazz Course compliments A level Music perfectly.

How will I learn?

There are four classes a week in music:

Performing: A weekly performance class where you will study the art of performance and get the opportunity to perform regularly. You will also get a free weekly ‘one to one’ lesson with our expert tutors on your main instrument – (N.B. the College does not supply instruments).

Composing: Using our suite of iMacs, you will have access to Sibelius 7 and Logic Studio 9 to help you build a portfolio of compositions. You will be set anything from small exercises to large-scale scores. You will be encouraged to develop your own individuality and will not be restricted to certain ‘traditional’ genres.

Listening Skills & Aural: You will work on the fundamentals of being a musician through singing, listening to music in a structured way, writing down melodies and listening to harmonies. These crucial skills will be essential for both your exams and if you choose to follow music after College.

Understanding how Music works: You will study famous pieces from the history of music (from Classical Music to Cuban Music, Rock to Baroque) through analysis of scores. You will learn how to recognise the traits and devices of many musical genres, developing your own musical knowledge at the same time.

Alongside A level classes, there are many enrichment ensembles you can perform in including;

Chamber Ensemble - an orchestra that sometimes divides into String & Wind Ensembles in order to explore different repoirtore.

Choral Society perform large works at least twice a year in venues such as Winchester Cathedral and St. Lawrence, Alton.

Big Band perform classic jazz from Frank Sinatra to Duke Ellington whilst the Jazz Orchestra concentrate on modern jazz composition.

Composers’ Ensemble allows music students the chance to have their music played by real musicians (not just on Sibelius!).

How will I be assessed?

A level Music

• Extended Performance (30%): perform as a soloist and/or as part of an ensemble. Any instruments and/or voices are acceptable as part of a 12-15 minute performance of a balanced programme of music; recorded, internally assessed and externally moderated;
• Composition and Technical Study (30%): complete i) a composition to a chosen brief during a 15 hour period and ii) a technical study during a 3 hour period. Externally assessed;
• Further Musical Understanding (40%): a 2 hour listening paper – externally assessed, divided into three sections; a) aural analysis; b) music in context and c) continuity and change in instrumental and applied music.


Students who have taken this course have gone onto to study at Music Conservatoires and at leading Universities and gone on to find work in the professional music world.

Many students go on to high profile careers in music including:

  • Hannah Dilkes who won the BBC Proms Inspire Young Composers Competition. Following this, her pieces were broadcast on Radio 3.
  • Richard Hames who worked as ‘Composer in Residence’ for the National Youth Orchestra.
  • Bassist Matthew Read who, after joining the National Youth Jazz Collective, is now a regular on the London jazz scene.

Entry requirements

Students should normally have achieved an A*- C grade profile at GCSE. For GCSE English and Maths where a new grading system has been introduced, a Grade 4 is equivalent to a Grade C.

We would normally expect you to have gained at least a C in GCSE Music, or Grade V Theory plus Grade V on an instrument. 

Course costs

A number of CDs will be required for recording performances and compositions.

The Anthology of Music (about £25), an Aural Workbook (just under £10) and the Student Guide to AS Music (about £20) is recommended.

The department organizes a number of wide ranging trips throughout the year. Whilst it is difficult to put a price on these, students ought to set aside between £40 and £50 a year for these optional visits.

All students studying AS and A Level Music will be provided with a weekly free of charge instrumental lesson on their main instrument.

If the costs of equipment, materials and trips may cause you financial hardship, you may wish to read through details of our financial support scheme on our website.

Course Code