A Level Music is suitable for all instrumentalists or vocalists who have already achieved a standard equivalent to at least ABRSM Grade 4 (or other recognised examination body). The course focuses on the disciplines of Performing, Listening and Analysis. Any musical style is suitable for performing, but the course includes a core study of Western classical music. Confident musical literacy skills are essential, as is a willingness to be creative and involved with the musical activities of the Department.
Many of our students opt to study both Music and Music Technology. This course will combine well with almost any other subject; in the past students have also studied:
- Performing Arts
- Media Studies
- Film Studies
Students considering taking Music at university would benefit from taking subjects with a focus on analytical writing, such as English or History.
A Level Music is a requirement if students wish to study for a specialist Music degree or undertake a professional training course at one of the Conservatoires. Music can be studied as a single honours degree as well as part of a combined honours course, with a wide range of subjects (for example Business, English, Languages, Mathematics, etc.) A good pass at A Level Music makes a positive impression on university admissions for most degree programmes.
The course covers three broad areas:
- Performing Music – Students prepare for a final recital which must be of Grade 6 standard or above on their chosen instrument(s) and/or voice.
- Composing – this is a specialist study of key compositional techniques from the Western Classical Tradition, Music of the twentieth century and the candidates own interests.
- Understanding Musical Style – in which students study the development of symphonic music through the classical and romantic eras, music of the twentieth century and jazz between 1920 and 1960.
You will develop your performance skills and create compositions in your own style but also make use of the techniques of established composers.
You will study:
The Western Classical Tradition (The Development of the Symphony 1750-1900). This involves a detailed study of one symphony and general study of another, within the social, historical and cultural context.
Jazz 1920-1950 (Ragtime, Dixieland, Early jazz, Big band (including swing), Be-bop, Cool jazz)
Into the Twentieth Century 1895 – 1935 (Impressionism Expressionism including serialism Neo-classicism)
This will include the detailed study of 2 set works: Poulenc, Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano, movement II and Debussy, Three Nocturnes, Number 1, Nuages
Course Specific Trips, Visits & Experiences
Music A Level students have the opportunity to take part in a variety of course related experiences, some of which are compulsory. In the last couple of years, these have included:
- Music videos such as Times Like These and Don’t Go Out
- Various trips, most recently to the Yehudi Menuhin School and Glyndebourne
- A chance to perform in events such as the College’s Winter and Spring Concerts, the Rock out of Lockdown concert and the annual Battle of the Bands as well as regular lunchtime recitals
- Composition workshops with professional ensembles, most recently the Camilli String Quartet and also the Yehudi Menuhin School
- Concert trips to London theatres
- A chance to perform at the College’s annual Leavers’ Festival
- The opportunity to take part in Reigate’s New Music Fest – both behind the scenes and on the stage
- Participation in lectures and study days led by leading specialists and academics.
Music students will be required to participate in at least one College music group throughout the duration of their studies and can select from: Chamber Ensemble, Choir, Pop Choir or Function Band. In addition to course specific experiences, students also have the opportunity to get involved in the College’s Activities Programme.
All students need to gain an experience of the work place during their time at College and for students studying vocational courses it should ideally be linked to one of their subject areas.
The course is assessed through a formal examination in June of the second year and externally assessed coursework, both for Composition and Performance.
The exam board for this A Level is Eduqas.
All students need to have at least five GCSEs at Grade 4 or above (and a satisfactory school reference) in order to be accepted on an A Level/BTEC Level 3 Programme.
Students wishing to study A Level music should either possess, or be able to demonstrate, at least one of the following criteria:
- Grade 6 in GCSE Music if taken (GCSE Music is desirable, but not essential)
- Grade 5 Performance on the student’s principal instrument
- Grade 5 Theory
All students will be auditioned prior to being offered a place on the course. For students who believe they are Grade 5 or above on their instrument but have not taken a formal exam, performing ability will be assessed by a music teacher before being accepted onto the course. Alongside the performance, the audition will include a short sight-reading exercise, aural test and questions on music theory. Students without Grade 5 Theory will take this exam during their Lower Sixth year.
Students will do well on the course if they are:
- Natural performers
- Fascinated by the workings of music
- Good with IT
- A team player
- Keen to develop their instrumental or vocal technique to a high standard
Students should be enthusiastic performers and active listeners. Students will have the opportunity to develop their key skills generally as well as sharing their enthusiasm and interests with other specialist musicians.
Why should you take this course?
Music A Level will appeal to accomplished performers as well as students interested in composition. The course is suitable for a range of students – from those wanting a career in Music to those keen to maintain their creative skills and balance the course with more exam-based subject choices.
Is there an audition process?
Yes. The audition process exists to ensure you have the necessary performance skills (you will be assessed at Grade 6 Level and above in the final exam) and a good understanding of music theory to at least GCSE level/Grade 5.
What will my audition involve?
You will be asked to perform at grade 4 or above on your instrument/voice, perform a simple sight-reading task and compose a short piece of music. You will also discuss your musical experiences and why you are excited about studying music at A Level.
What extracurricular music activities are on offer?
At Reigate College we pride ourselves on being able to offer a wide variety of extracurricular music activities to develop your musicianship and inspire a passion in performance.
Activities you can get involved with include Song-Writing Club, Chamber Choir, Chamber Ensemble, Pop Choir and Classic Album Club.
What performance opportunities are available?
There are many opportunities to perform throughout the year, and this is one of the most enjoyable aspects of being a musician – showing off what you can do!
The College holds termly concerts in the Rispoli Theatre, plus a ‘Battle of the Bands’ at the Harlequin Theatre in Redhill, Recital performances and student events such as the Freshers’ Party and Leavers’ Fest at which Music students perform.
In recent times, due to COVID restrictions, we’ve moved to creating online performances to maintain the strong sense of community in the Music Department and showcase our students’ brilliant skills.
What trips do you go on?
We aim to visit concert halls at least once a term (including Glyndebourne and the Royal Festival Hall) and have also established links with the Yehudi Menuhin School through a composition programme that A Level Music students are able to take advantage of.
We also attend study days with Music students from all over the country with speakers who are specialists in their fields to further help inspire your studies and career options. Recently we attended a song writing workshop with Guy Chambers.
What careers are available to music students?
In the future, creativity is going to be one of the most important and in-demand skills at work (World Economic Forum.)
When business leaders across the world were surveyed, they voted creativity as the most important workplace skill to help their businesses survive and grow. This means that the study of creative subjects, like Music, is becoming even more important and relevant to young people – whatever your ambitions.
At the same time, you will find many opportunities to develop and improve your personal wellbeing both independently and as part of a wider community.
Where can Music A Level lead?
The possibilities are endless. Music will enable you to demonstrate many skills which employers, colleges and universities will be looking for. It can also give you opportunities to travel, meet people and get the most out of life. Eduqas Music teachers were recently asked to give details of the next steps of former students. It was not a surprise to hear that many had continued to study Music at Music College, or universities including Cambridge, Durham, Huddersfield, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Oxford, Sheffield, Surrey and York.
Others had gone on to various universities (including Russell Group) to read a huge range of subjects from Acting to Veterinary Medicine.
Others had started Apprenticeships in Accountancy, joined the Royal Marines or other Armed Forces. At least one is starring in the West End, and others have started (or continued) careers in performance and tuition.