Sixth Form: Music

Subject Overview

As in GCSE, A level music requires you to work as a performer, composer and critical listener providing the opportunity to develop into a rounded musician.

Performance is an essential part of the course (35%) and we would advise you to have at least Grade 5 in an instrument. You have the chance to compose your own pieces that suit your own interests and styles, giving a ten minute recital at the end of year 13.

The course provides students with a fantastic foundation for further study of Music and essential skills that are applicable to any job.  Employers are constantly looking for evidence that candidates can work collaboratively, communicate effectively to a wide range of people, problem solve, have good time management and think creatively and practically.

Music helps you to develop a variety of skills such as analysis, dedication, group skills, self confidence and self-reliance, as well as providing a means of artistic expression and relaxation. It also stretches your imagination, and playing an instrument makes you think and react quickly. Skills such as these are not just prized within music careers, they are valuable to all types of employers.

Music is a highly regarded academic subject and whether you take it with a view to a career in music or as an additional A level subject, it is held in high esteem by universities and other institutions of higher education. Most people, however, study Music because they love it!

Entry Requirements

It helps if you have studied Music at GCSE level but it is not essential. You will need to be at least Grade 5 on your first instrument.

Syllabuses (Course Outline and Structure)

We offer OCR Music A Level. 

You have the option of weighting Performance or Composition more heavily.

Option 1

Performance - 35% (Non-exam assessment)

Recital – minimum of 10 minutes and three contrasting pieces. Choice of:

  •  solo piece(s) on one or more instrument or voice
  •  ensemble performance (including accompanying)
  •  realisation using music technology

Section 1: Free Choice

Section 2: Focused Study

Composition - 25% (Non-exam assessment)

Compositions with a combined duration of at least 4 minutes

  • One to a brief set by OCR
  • One to a brief written by the learner

 Listening and Appraising - 40%

  • Analysing and evaluating music
  • Familiar and unfamiliar pieces
  • Prescribed works
  • Questions based on aural extracts

Written exam including aural extracts (2 hour and 30 minutes)

Option 2

Performance - 25% (Non-exam assessment)

Recital minimum of 6 minutes and two contrasting pieces. Choice of:

  •  solo piece(s) on one or more instruments or voice
  •  ensemble performance (including accompanying)
  •  realisation using music technology

 Composition - 35% (Non-exam assessment)

Compositions with a combined duration of at least 8 minutes

  • One to a brief set by OCR
  • One to a brief written by the learner
  • Three short technical exercises

 Listening and Appraising - 40%

  • Analysing and evaluating music
  • Familiar and unfamiliar pieces
  • Prescribed works
  • Questions based on aural extracts

Written exam including aural extracts (2 hour and 30 minutes)

For more information please visit :

 http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/as-a-level-gce-music-h143-h543-from-2016/

Activities and Trips

 Candidates will be expected to regularly participate in music making and attend concerts as part of their wider develpment.

The Music department will often receive information about additional musical opportunities from the wider music communitiy, such as composition workshops, and will share details where appropriate.

Expected Costs

We try to keep costs to a minimum but on average a trip to a concert would cost approximately £20 with travel and insurance.

Complementary Subject Combinations and Enrichment Activities

Music suits many combinations of subjects including History, Drama and Maths. Every year there is a school musical in which A level students have a key role. This is not essential to your course but helps with performance skills and working as part of a large cast.  In addition, Music is an option for Sixth Form Leisure time on a Wednesday afternoon so why not try something new - learning the ukelele or starting a band?

Subject Resources

 Past Papers

 Past papers are particularly useful as exam question practice, which we will do in lesson time and will also be set as homework.

All past exam questions can be found at:    

http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/as-a-level-gce-music-h143-h543-from-2016

 and following the link for "Assessment materials"