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This course is equally suitable for students who intend to continue their studies at university or music college, those who wish to extend their understanding and experience of music for its intrinsic value and interest or for those who relish the pleasure they derive from it.

Music A Level develops a unique combination of practical, creative, analytical and social skills. As a result, it is highly regarded as a qualification by universities for a wide variety of degree courses. Students at Lytchett Minster have access to unrivalled facilities:
• A suite of practice rooms
• Extensive ICT resources (including Cubase, Pro-tools and Sibelius software)
• A purpose-built theatre with a Yamaha grand piano.

All students taking music A Level are automatically included in the department’s Gifted and Talented programme, which includes trips to the Royal Opera House, London workshops and performances with professional musicians and regular BSO concerts.

We also give our students tailor-made guidance on local and national music opportunities and future career paths.

Topics covered

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


There are three units to the course:
Unit 1: Performing – An 8 minute recital in the final year of the course
Unit 2: Composing – Two pieces, one to a given brief (lasting one minute), the other a free choice (lasting 5 minutes)
Unit 3: Appraising – A two hour final exam, on set works (from the topics listed above) and unfamiliar music.

How the course differs from GCSE

Whereas music GCSE is open to all pupils, A Level music students should be at least grade 5 standard in an instrument at the start of the course. This is because it is not possible to access the highest mark brackets unless students are grade 7 by the end of the two year course. Though the free composition element of A Level will be familiar from GCSE, students also have to complete the technical composition tasks in the style of other composers. The course expects students to analyse set works in considerable details and to write extended essay answers; therefore there is a greater emphasis on this in relation to practical work when compared to GCSE.

Skills acquired

Students will develop performance skills (solo and/or ensemble), compose music and learn about harmony. They will build up their aural and analytical skills by studying selections from set works and wider listening, drawing on styles including classical, pop and world music.

Where the course leads

Performing and teaching are perhaps the most obvious openings, but music A Level can also lead to a career in radio, television, film, recording, publishing, the retail trade, arts administration and music therapy. As well as developing practical musicianship skills, music A Level is also an academically respected subject, and past students have progressed to study the subject both at Russell Group universities and music conservatoires.

Special entry requirements

Students should have obtained at least grade 5 in GCSE music and be of grade 5 standard on an instrument. However, competent performers who have not taken GCSE music should consult Mr Painter about their suitability for the course.