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Even if you choose not to study Music at A Level, there are many opportunities for Sixth Form students to be involved in the musical life of the school, such as joining Senior Choir, Chamber Choir, Orchestra, Flute Choir, Guitar Group, String Group and Reed Group. Students often form their own rock bands in the Sixth Form and this is very much encouraged. Chamber Choir is an auditioned choir and rehearse once a week. The Senior Choir is open to everyone without audition and rehearses once a week. Both Choirs sing at services and concerts in and out of school throughout the year. Individual music lessons are offered in all orchestral instruments, as well as drums, guitar (acoustic or electric), piano and voice. The school offers weekly aural and theory classes without charge. Many girls take examinations and compete in festivals.

The Music Department involves all singers and musicians in the annual Carol Service at the end of the Autumn Term as well as the large May concert in the summer term. All musicians are encouraged to perform in the informal lunchtime concert series and to audition for the biennial musical production. In recent years these have included Annie and Oliver. There is also the biennial School Music Competition where the Sixth Form are responsible for organising their House Entry involving soloists, small ensembles and a performance from the whole House! Many more informal concerts and charity concerts feature during the academic year. Indeed Sixth Form musical initiatives are very much encouraged and supported by the Music Department.



This is an exciting course!

A Level Music involves the maturity of diverse skills: theoretical, practical, aural and intellectual. It is a multidisciplinary course exploring all areas of musical skill: performing, composing, listening and analysis. 

By choosing A Level Music you will:

  • study a diverse range of music
  • learn to listen critically and analytically
  • gain an understanding of compositional processes
  • perform in a range of contexts, including solo and ensemble work
  • develop a professional  approach to communication and performance

Practical skills in an instrument or voice to the equivalent of at least Grade V are a requirement.

A Level music is a well-respected qualification when applying for University courses across the spectrum of academic disciplines, and is essential for those wishing to read the subject at university or Music College.

The specification contains six units:

AS Units

Unit 1: Influences on Music (written examination 30% of AS or 15% of A Level)

Students acquire, explore and apply musical language and context.

Section A: Students develop their listening skills and respond to structured listening questions. Students explore a variety of music, from the renaissance to early jazz, in preparation for their examination.

Sections B & C: Students explore two areas of study: The Western Classical Tradition and Music Theatre: a study of the Musical from 1940-1980. Study involves listening to music from these two Areas of Study, study of scores and gaining an awareness of the context in which the music was composed. Haydn’s Symphony no 104, the 1st and 3rd movements are studied as a set work.

Unit 2: Composing (coursework 30% of AS or 15% of A Level)

Students demonstrate their ability to create and develop their composing skills with technical control and expressive understanding, making creative use of musical devices, conventions and resources.

Unit 3: Performing (internally assessed 40% of AS or 20% of A Level)

Students develop their performing skills and offer two performances from the options below:

  1. A solo performance on an instrument;
  2. A solo performance on voice;
  3. A solo performance on a second instrument;
  4. An ensemble performance.

Each performance should last 5-8 minutes. Students may submit a single piece or a programme of shorter pieces.

A2 Units

Unit 4: Music in Context (written examination 20% of A Level)

Students acquire, explore and apply musical language and context.

Section A: Students develop further their listening skills from Unit 1 and respond to structured listening questions. Students enjoy exploring a variety of music in preparation for the examination. 

Sections B & C: Students explore two areas of study. The first area of study, The Western Classical Tradition, is an extension of study completed at AS level. Students study a new set work, Symphony No. 1 in A ƅ major, by Elgar. Pupils can then choose between Jazz and Blues or English choral music for their second area of study.

Unit 5: Developing Musical Ideas (coursework 15% of A Level)

Students develop and extend their skills acquired in Unit 2, choosing one of the following options:

  1. compositional techniques:

i.      Harmonisation of a Bach chorale melody

ii.    Completing part of a movement from a classical string quartet

  1. Composing a 5-8 minute piece in any style or genre.
  2. Arranging a piece of popular ‘classical’ music in response to a brief and should be 5-8 minutes in length.

Unit 6: A Musical Performance (externally assessed 15% of A Level)

Students offer two (or more) contrasting pieces to form a short solo recital of a balanced programme of music. The programme should last 10-15 minutes in length, showing a variety of style, technique, period and/or approach.

Mrs Nicola Atwell
Director of Music

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Westonbirt Schools

Tetbury, Gloucestershire

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