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The A level Music course at CSG is challenging and rewarding. The students who choose it are committed to their musical studies and with our excellent facilities, our partnerships with a professional string quartet and vocal quartet and the numerous high-level performing ensembles, students often say that it is one of their most enjoyable A levels.

The aim of this course is to develop your abilities as an intelligent musician. It is structured around 3 units each year which are linked together by two Areas of Study.








Unit 1 Performing 1                                                  (visiting examiner - 40% - 120 marks)

  • Solo Recital                                                     (60 marks)
    • 2 contrasting pieces, 5-8 minutes in total
  • Viva Voce                                                       (20 marks)
    • 5 minute discussion with the examiner on your solo performance
  • Extended performing                                      (40 marks)
    • choose one of the following: a) 1 solo piece on a second instrument; b) 1 ensemble piece; c) improvisation

Unit 2 Composing 1                                                  (coursework – 30% - 90 marks)

  • Seven harmony exercises                                (45 marks)
    • adding chords and bass line to a melody
  • Instrumental composition                               (45 marks)
    • string quartet project with players from the London Symphony Orchestra

Unit 3 Introduction to Historical Study in music    (exam paper - 30% - 90 marks)

  • Section A                                                        (30 marks)
    • aural analysis: instrumental piece; short answer questions; each candidate has own CD
  • Section B                                                        (40 marks)
    • set works (short answer questions)
      • Handel: Water Music, Suite no. 2 in D major
      • Mozart: Horn Concerto in E flat – 1st Movement
      • Beethoven: Symphony no. 5 – 1st Movement
      • Louis Armstrong: Hotter Than That
      • Duke Ellington: Ko-Ko
      • Miles Davis: Boplicity
  • Section C                                                        (20 marks)
    • contextual study of the set works (short essay question)


Unit 4 Performing 2                                                  (visiting examiner - 40%)

  • Recital                                                             (100 marks)
    • either as a soloist or ensemble player or accompanist, focus on an individual idiomatic style or genre, 12-15 mins.
  • Viva Voce                                                       (20 marks)
    • Discussion of 2 recorded interpretations of one of your recital pieces

Unit 5 Composing 2                                                  (coursework - 30%)

  • Section A                                                        (45 marks)
    • stylistic techniques (8 chorale harmonisations in style of JS Bach)
  • Section B                                                        (45 marks)
    • composition – vocal composition for an a cappella quartet from the Ebor Singers

Unit 6 Historical & Analytical Studies in Music     (exam paper - 30%)

  • Section A                                                        (40 marks)
    • aural analysis: accompanied vocal music 1900 – 1945; short answer questions; each candidate has own CD
  • Section B                                                        (50 marks)
    • Prescribed Topic: Music for the Stage (essay questions)
      • Seventeenth-century English music for theatre:

§ Purcell: Dido & Aeneas

§ Handel: Acis & Galatea

      • Nineteenth-century opera:

§ Wagner: Die Walkürie

§ Verdi: Rigoletto (19th-century opera)

      • Post 1945 opera/musical theatre:

§ Bernstein: West Side Story & Britten

§ The Turn of the Screw


Entry Requirements: As stated in the Admission Policy

Special Entry requirements:   In terms of performing, students should be at least Associated Board Grade 5 standard or equivalent at the start of the course. They should also have a grade B or above in GCSE Music (or grade 5 music theory) and be fluent in reading staff notation.

Exam Board: OCR