Music AS & A level (Edexcel)
Duration AS: 1 Year A2: 2 Years
Minimum entry You will need to have achieved the college’s minimum entry requirement for Level 3 courses: 5 GCSEs at grades C or higher. Grade C or above for English is expected. In addition you will also have Grade B in Music and/or grade 5 Music Theory. You will also be at Grade 5 level in Music Performance. The ability to read music notation fluently in treble and bass clef is essential.
Possible Combinations Music combines well with other advanced levels in the Performing Arts department especially Music Technology and provides a real opportunity to widen your programme of study with whatever subject you choose. It is a creative, practical subject which will require the commitment to practice as well as to attend rehearsals and performance opportunities outside of college hours.
Skills developed (by studying Music you will extend your skills in the following areas)
- Analytical skills
- Communication skills
- Individual creativity
Enrichment opportunities It is vital that you extend your understanding of different musical genres by attending as many performances as possible. There are many opportunities to do this in the city of Portsmouth and we arrange visits to venues in the surrounding area. There are lessons available in Singing, Piano, Guitar and Drums. You can also audition for a part in the college wide production and will be likely to be involved in the band (recent productions included ‘Chicago’ and ‘Return to the Forbidden Planet’). All music students will receive half hour per week individual instrumental tuition as part of their course.
Recent results 100% pass rate last year.
What does the course involve?
The course focuses on the challenges of performing, composing and understanding. You will develop both your solo and ensemble instrumental skills, taking part in a number of performances in our Studio Theatre.
Through the study of topics such as minimalism, popular song, variation and romantic miniatures you will begin to find your own compositional style.
Through listening and analysis you will discover a wide range of musical styles and learn to identify instruments, features and techniques used by many different composers.
You will be required to study three units for the AS qualification in year 1 and three more units for the full A level qualification in year two.
Unit 1: Performing Music
You will develop your skills as a performer both as a soloist and an ensemble player. Regular workshop lessons, in addition to individual instrumental lessons and regular performance opportunities will give you a wide range of experiences to develop your skills. This Unit is assessed by the teacher and moderated by the exam board. It forms 30% of your AS grade.
Unit 2: Composing
You will develop your composition skills leading to the creation of a three-minute piece in response to a chosen brief. Throughout the course you will complete a series of short projects, researching and exploring a number of musical genres to develop an awareness of musical harmonic language. This forms 30% of your AS grade.
Unit 3: Developing Musical Understanding
You will study a range of set works from a variety of styles through listening to and studying musical scores. You will learn how to identify important musical features and understand their social and historical context. You will learn to identify harmonic and tonal features used in songs and also how to write chords to harmonise a melody. This will be carried out through both practical and written exercises. Unit 3 forms 40% of your AS grade.
Unit 4: Extended Performance
You will further develop your performance skills as soloists and/or as part of an ensemble through regular rehearsals, workshop sessions and individual instrumental lessons. This will lead to a 12-15 minute recital at the end of Term 2. This unit forms 30% of your A2 grade.
Unit 5: Composition and Technical Study
This unit has two sections: composition and technical study. For the composition section you will extend your composition skills, leading to the creation of a final three minute piece in response to a chosen brief. In the technical study section you will extend your knowledge and awareness of harmony in a number of different musical styles completing pre-existing pieces. In consultation with your teacher you will complete either one composition and one technical study or two compositions or two technical studies. The written exam forms 30% of your A2 grade.
Unit 6: Further Musical Understanding
This unit focuses on listening to familiar and unfamiliar music, and understanding how it works. Through the study of set works you will learn how to identify important musical features, the context and how styles develop and differ through the ages. You will listen to a wide range of unfamiliar music both in and out of lessons learning how to place it in context and identify harmonic and tonal features. The unit forms 40% of your A2 grade.
How will I be assessed?
- Unit 1: Teacher assessment and external moderation of a six minute performance of your choice.
- Unit 2: External assessment of a three minute original composition to a given brief.
- Unit 3: External assessment of a 2 hour written and listening exam based on set works studied through the year.
- Unit 4: Teacher assessment and external moderation of a 15 minute performance of your choice.
- Unit 5: External assessment of a three minute original composition to a given brief and a technical study taken under timed conditions.
- Unit 6: External assessment of a 2 hour written and listening exam based on set works studied through the year.
Where could the subject take me in the future?
There are many higher education courses in both universities and music colleges around the country offering courses in Performance, Music Technology, Composition, Analysis/History, Music Therapy and Arts Administration. Career opportunities involving music are almost too many too mention but here are few: Performer (solo, chamber, band, orchestra musical theatre), Composer, Arranger, DJ, Sound Engineer, Armed Forces, Music Editor, Publisher, Instrument Maker/Repairer, Piano Tuner, Journalist, Arts Administrator, Music Therapist and Teacher (school teacher, instrumental peripatetic teacher, vocal coach).
What the students say?
‘Studying music at Portsmouth College is great fun’, Tom.
‘I’ve learnt a lot about different styles of music’, Brian.
‘My compositions have got a lot better this year’, Charlotte.