This is a really challenging course but also an enormously rewarding one. The course provides students with the opportunity to really understand how music works both by making it and by analysing it.
Students learn how Music in its many forms has evolved, and who the great movers and shakers are. This is a course for those who enjoy both the creative freedom of composition, and the commitment and dedication needed for performance. It is also course for those who enjoy the intellectual rigour of research and analysis and want the opportunity to develop their skills in the fields of academic research, analysis, essay writing, and critical thinking. The course encompasses a vast range of musical styles and traditions, covering everything from Western Art Music, 1600 – present day, contemporary Celtic folk, popular music, to Cuban Son and Indonesian gamelan.
This is a course for those who enjoy both the creative freedom of composition, and the commitment and dedication needed for performance. It is also course for those who enjoy the intellectual rigour of research and analysis and want the opportunity to develop their skills in the fields of academic research, analysis, essay writing, and critical thinking.
Unit 1: Performing 30% 60 marks (marked externally)
In this unit students are free to play or sing in any style that they like, but will be advised on repertoire choices, and individually coached in technical control, expressive control and interpretation over the 2 years of the course.
Performance work must last for a minimum of 8 minutes and the final recording is a public performance presented as a recital. The 8 minutes can be any combination of playing or singing solo and/or in an ensemble.
Unit 2: Composing 30% 60 marks split 40/20 (marked externally)
In this unit students write 1 original composition (min 4 minutes) either free or from a choice of briefs provided by the exam board in September of the year of examination. Composition techniques and processes are taught in the first year before coursework begins in year 13. In year 13 individual composition coaching is tailor-made to suite the route each student has chosen to take.
This unit also includes a techniques paper (min 1 minute) where students demonstrate their understanding of the compositional processes found in 4 part voice setting by harmonising a Bach chorale. This “4 part” work impacts directly on the skeleton score and aural questions found in unit 3. It also informs students when evaluating the provenance of works found in the essay writing of unit 3, and is the cornerstone of composition, part writing, and orchestration. It is a highly prized skill that the best universities and conservatoires value enormously.
The combined duration of the pieces must be at least 6 minutes.
Unit 3: Appraising 40% 100 marks 2hr written exam (marked externally)
In this unit students study 6 categories: Vocal music , Instrumental music, Film music, Popular music and Jazz, fusions of Western Art Music and World music, the Avant-garde and Experimental music. It is a vast canon of music that we can only scratch the surface of, but it is an invaluable way of opening doors to unfamiliar musical worlds. For depth as well as breadth, students also study 3 set pieces in each category in a lot more detail. Some of the greatest and best known ground breaking works are here like Stravinsky “Rite of Spring”, and Kate Bush “Hounds of Love” but the set works also explore roads less travelled with works like Saariaho’s “Petals” and Cage’s “Pieces for prepared piano”. Students study works in terms of the key musical figures that influenced each composer, and in turn each composer’s own legacy. Students explore both provenance and context alongside in-depth musical analysis. It is a fascinating and intellectually challenging process.
The exam consists of 3 skeleton score questions related to the set works, melodic and rhythmic exercises, an essay question on an unknown work, and an essay question on a set work.
An advanced level course in Music is good preparation for anyone considering a degree in the subject, but it also provides the transferable skills and academic rigour needed for Higher Education in any field. A number of Huntington musicians have gone on to study conducting, performing, composing, musicology, and sound production, but equally others have gone on to study subjects such as languages, politics, mathematics, engineering, and medicine. Music A level is recognised as a highly valued academic qualification by the very best universities in the country.
GCSE GRADE PROFILE
Students who study this subject will normally achieve 9-4 grades in a range of subjects, including GCSE grade 5 in Music alongside a recommended equivalent of Music grade V, on either a voice or instrument.