Thursday, 9 May 2013

Studying A-Level Music

Without a doubt A-Level music is a very rewarding subject. It is however not easy. To get a high mark you have to be strong in every component of the course, which is uncommon in most cases.

OCR is the exam board that I am familiar with, but the others also have a similar structure. These are the components of the course:

  • Performing: 
At AS you are required to perform for a maximum of 8 minutes on your main instrument.
You then have a 5 minute Viva Voce with the examiner who will ask you questions such as "what do you think was good about your performance?".
For section C of the performance module you can either perform for a maximum of 4 minutes on a second instrument, as an ensemble, performe your composition or improvise for 2 minutes with 10 minute preparation.
(Your pieces must be a minimum of grade 5)

At A2 you are required to perform for a maximum of 15 minutes on your main instrument. The pieces you choose to play must be related in some way, such as two movements from a concerto or two fugues. You will then, as at AS, have a Viva Voce with the examiner. You will be expected to have done preparatory listening for this discussion and will have produced a write up for the examiner to ask you questions from, relating the listening to the interpretation of your performance.
(Your pieces must be a minimum of grade 6)
  • Composing:
AS part 1:
You have to produce a portfolio of 7 harmony exercises produced by your teacher.
Part 2:
Produce an original composition in any style.

A2 part 1:
You have to produce a portfolio of 7 harmony exercises produced by your teacher.
Part 2:
Produce a vocal, programme or TV/film clip composition.
  • Exam
At AS you will study 3 orchestral works and 3 jazz works in detail. In the exam you will have a choice of two questions in section A based on music you haven't studied. Section B is made up of questions on 1 of the orchestral works and 1 jazz work. In section C you have to answer an essay question based on the set works. You have your own CD containing the music related to the questions in A and B.

At A2 you study vocal works composed between 1900 and 1945. There are no set works for this part so you will probably listen to a wide variety of different works in your lessons. For the second part there is a variety of choice, which will be chosen by your teacher. You will study programme music, popular music, music for the stage, music for the screen or music and belief. The exam is made up of two sections. Section A comprises of questions on an unheard piece of vocal music. One of the questions requires you to compare the music to another piece you have listened to. In section B you have to write two essays on works you have studied relating to the second part of the history module. Again you will have your own CD.


 



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