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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, 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 four Areas of Study.


    UNIT 1

    Performing (externally assessed via recording) option A 25%/option B 35%

    This takes the form of a recital, either as a soloist, ensemble player, or accompanist. You will present at least two contrasting pieces on your instrument.

    For option B you will need to perform an additional third piece that demonstrates an in-depth understanding of the repertoire for your instrument.

    UNIT 2

    Composing (externally assessed coursework) option A 35%/option B 25%

    This takes the form of two compositions. Composition 1 is written to a brief set by the exam board. Composition 2 is written to a brief set by the teacher in discussion with the student.

    For option A you will also need to compose some short additional technical exercises that demonstrate your ability to develop musical ideas within a specific musical tradition.

    UNIT 3

    Listening & Appraising (exam paper) 40%

    Section A (30 marks)

    Aural analysis of unfamiliar music taken from:

    • Area of Study 1: Instrumental Music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven
    • Area of Study 2: Popular Song – Blues, Jazz, Swing, and Big Band

    This section consists of short answer questions, multiple choice, and melodic/rhythmic dictation

    Section B (40 marks)

    These set works are from Areas of Study 1 & 2 and for the exam in 2026 will be:

    • Area of Study 1: Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante in E flat major, K. 364 (1779-80), first movement
    • Area of Study 2: Bessie Smith: (i) ‘Young Woman’s Blues’ (October 26, 1926), (ii) ‘Back Water Blues’ (February 17, 1927), (iii) ‘Alexander’s Rag Time Band’ (March 2, 1927), (iv) ‘Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out’ (May 15, 1929)

    Section C (50 marks)

    Essay questions based upon two additional areas of study. The two additional areas of study are chosen from these options:

    • Area of Study 3: Developments in Instrumental Jazz from 1920 to the present day
    • Area of Study 4: Religious Music of the Baroque Period
    • Area of Study 5: Programme Music 1820 - 1910
    • Area of Study 6: Innovations in Music from 1900 to the present day

    Entry Requirements: As stated in the Admission Policy

    Special 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 6 or above in GCSE Music (or grade 5 music theory) and be fluent in reading staff notation.

    Exam Board: OCR