A Level Music

Arts, Media and Publishing

Arts, Media and Publishing
Arts, Media and Publishing

What will you be working towards?

Alternative Title A Level Music
Code ALMu
Qualification Type GCE A/AS Level or Equivalent
Qualification Level Level 3
Course type Full Time


Music is constantly evolving, inspiring creativity and expression in a way that no other subject can. And the fact that you are considering studying A Level Music shows that you are passionate and enthusiastic about your instrument and/or composing and you are exactly the type of student that we want on the course. Having studied GCSE Music, you are well aware that the subject is challenging, all-consuming and yet incredibly rewarding.

When you embark on your A Level Music, you will continue to build on your knowledge from GCSE Music as you broaden your mind to be introduced to different musical styles/genres, acquire new vocabulary and advanced music theory knowledge, and develop analytical and enquiry skills to study all types of music and articulate your views and opinions in many different formats. In addition, with 60% of the course involving externally assessed coursework, there will be many opportunities to ensure that your coursework is produced to the highest of standards so that you can feel confident moving into your final appraisal exam worth 40%.

This course will attract a wide range of musicians, with different levels of expertise and backgrounds, which makes it even more exciting to develop a wide range of social/personal skills alongside rigorous analytical and written skills acquired on the course. When you immerse yourself into your A Level Music study at Bishop Laney, and the extra-curricular provision that we have on offer, you will not regret it – and it will certainly not hold you back in the future.


Studying A Level Music involves studying the subject that you are enthusiastic and passionate for at a deeper level. It consists of three elements:

Performance – worth 35% of your A Level in Music.

You will be expected to produce a recital programme lasting a minimum of 10 minutes, performing music as either a soloist, within an ensemble, or using music production/technology.  

Composition – worth 25% of your A Level in Music.

You will be expected to write two compositions lasting a minimum of 4 minutes and 30 seconds. One of these compositions will be ‘free-choice’; the other will be in response to an external set-brief.

Appraising – worth 40% of your A Level in Music.

You will sit a 2 hour examination, where you will answer short and long responses to a range of familiar Area of Study 1 music (Baroque Concerto, Operas of Mozart, Romantic Piano Music) and two other optional Areas of Study to be decided on an individual/class basis (Pop Music, Music for Media, Music for Theatre, Jazz, Contemporary Traditional Music, Art Music Since 1910). In addition, you will also answer questions on unfamiliar music relating to the Areas of Study you have focused on during the course in the exam.

Throughout the three elements outlined above, students’ understanding of music theory and the musical elements is paramount, and will be continually taught, assessed and re-evaluated during the course.

How will it be delivered?

A Level Music at Bishop Laney is taught, first and foremost, as a practical subject.

  • You will be learning music theory through practical exercises, and you will also practically explore your Areas of Study set-work content.
  • You will develop your confidence when talking about music to an appropriate A Level standard with a particular focus on developing oracy skills and using correct terminology.
  • While you will invest regular time each week to practicing your solo/ensemble recital outside of lessons, you will be expected to regularly present parts of your recital within class and at Department concerts during the course.
  • You will have many opportunities to compose music using ‘live’ student performers in lesson, workshop ideas together as a class, in addition to being able to use music technology software (Reason and Sibelius) on the computers that we have available in the Department.

Alongside this, there will be individual notetaking required in lessons, and support will be given on how to do this at an A Level standard. In addition, ‘home-learning’ worksheets and other homework-based activities will be set and will need to be completed prior to certain lessons to contribute to discussions. You will regularly work through past-paper exam-styled questions to develop familiarity and confidence from early on in the course. You will also regularly review your own work and the work of your peers, and you will respond to feedback and marking appropriately

  • Externally examined content: performance recital (35%) lasting minimum of ten minutes; and two compositions – one ‘free-choice’ and one in response to an external set-brief – last a combined minimum duration of 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
  • Written ‘appraisal’ examination: worth 40% of your A Level, featuring three sections – Section A (Listening), Section B (Analysis) and Section C (Essay) - totalling 120 marks.

Entry requirements

At least 5 GCSE Grades 9 - 4 to include English & Maths; and Grade 5 or above in Music or a Music-related subject.

Working at a Grade 4/5 standard on an instrument or voice. 

Your next steps...

Studying A Level Music opens doors to so many opportunities as an academic, practical subject. You will develop written, analytical, practical and social/personal skills through studying A Level Music: independent learning, team working, performance and presentation skills, listening skills, essay-writing skills, confidence and self-esteem, creativity and self-expression are just a handful of the skill set you will develop during the course.

The course is designed to provide an excellent platform to study Music at University and at the top conservatoires. But this route does not always appeal to everyone. Students who study A Level Music also go into some of the following careers: sound technician, community/session musician, music therapy, primary/secondary teaching, private music teaching; there are also a wide range of jobs in the arts/creative industries in film, TV, theatre, radio, arts administration and creative education. Finally, if you are considering professions such as medicine, law and accountancy in the future, it is worth knowing that Universities regard A Level Music very highly as one of your A Level options.