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What is it about at sixth-form level?

A level Music is exciting and rewarding, unique in its combination of academic study and creative opportunity. There are three key elements in this course: composing, appraising and performing.

Learning how to compose music requires research and study of pieces of music in order to build knowledge and skills as students learn to compose their own pieces. Listening and appraising involves study of a broad range of pieces, practising listening but also producing written work to describe your analysis of pieces of music.

The performance element involves much practice and refinement of students’ ability to make music with the instrument(s) of their choice, with particular focus on certain musical styles and pieces as they draw nearer to their exam.

Why study it and what skills does it develop?

Music inspires creativity and expression. Students engage critically and creatively with a wide range of music and musical contexts. The course supports students to broaden their musical experience and interests, develop imagination, foster creativity, extend the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to communicate effectively as musicians, evolve awareness of music technologies and their use in the creation and presentation of music, appraise contrasting genres, styles and traditions of music, enhance their understanding of musical contexts and grow a coherent awareness of musical chronology.

What prior knowledge and skills are required?

You need a 7 or above in GCSE Music. Alternatively, you will have musical experience separate to your academic studies, for example you will have taken a musical instrument up to grade 5. You need to be a strong performer in either instrumental or vocal music. You will have a genuine interest in technicalities, theories and creation of music.

How is the course assessed?

A level

Students can play any instrument including singing, classical or contemporary (but they have to do one piece from the Western Classical tradition), minimum Grade 6. A prerequisite of the course is to engage with Classical Music.

Set works: Haydn Symphony 104, Mendelssohn Italian Symphony

Also to be covered: Music from the early 20th century and musical theatre.

Component 3: 40% written/listening exam

Component 1 and 2: 35%/25% split between composition coursework and performance based on their strengths.

Core Texts and Suggested Reading

Read CD booklets and programme notes

Magazines: Gramophone, BBC Music Magazine, Musical Opinion

A History of Western Music
By Donald J Grout

The Oxford History of Western Music: College Edition
By Richar Taruskin and Christopher H. Gibbs

Turn it Up!: A pitch-perfect history of music that rocked the world
(National Geographic Kids)

The Story of Music
By Howard Goodall

A Level Listening List:

Classicfm, Radio 3, Scala Radio, Radio 2
Folk Show, attend concerts, listen to music
and watch documentaries on youtube.
Listen to CDs.

Exam Board and Specification Codes

Eduqas B660U20

"I have really enjoyed my time MPW and would recommend this college to anyone. I learnt how to work more efficiently and revise more effectively thanks to the tutorials and weekly Timed Assignments, which also allowed me to prepare myself mentally for the exams from the first day. My history teacher was phenomenal. He managed to get me to reengage with the subject, as well as giving me all the support and help I asked for and more, giving me the knowledge and exams technique needed to achieve an A*."


Grades achieved at MPW: A*AA Progressed to: Exeter University (International Relations)

"The small class sizes proved invaluable for a number of reasons, some of which I did not anticipate. Aside from the obvious individual attention, the size of the class allowed for a lot of students’ questions to turn into a fruitful academic discussion. I have found the atmosphere at the college far more friendly and supportive than I expected. The support I had from my Personal Tutor was very helpful during the application process for university. I could tell that he really did care about my future and wanted to do everything he could in order to help me secure my place at my chosen university. Overall, I am pleased to say that my high expectations of MPW were fully met."


Grades achieved at MPW: AAB Progressed to: Southampton University (Business Innovation)

"I have definitely made the right decision to come to MPW - my grades have gone from averaging Es to straight As. Teaching at MPW is much more personal and I felt like talking to teachers. They are very good and give you lots of support if you do not understand something. My Personal Tutor took me through the UCAS process step by step. We went through my Personal Statement many times to make sure it was completely perfect. I am very excited about my firm choice."


Grades achieved at MPW: AAA Progressed to: Warwick University (Chemistry)

"As a dyslexic student who initially got CCEE for my AS, I was convinced that I could not achieve any higher. My time at MPW proved me wrong. Initially I was reluctant to move from my local school in York to a college so far away from home, my parents, and friends. At the end of my first year I was overjoyed to find that many hours of hard work and renewed revision techniques had resulted in me achieving three A's in my subjects. I wanted to continue at A2 as I knew it would greatly improve my university prospects and encourage me to work even harder. After two fantastic years at MPW I can emphatically say that going to MPW was the best decision I ever made."


Grades achieved at MPW: AAA Progressed to: Nottingham University (Philosophy)

"Having a Personal Tutor to discuss ANYTHING with, from my UCAS application to organising my life in general, really did make life at the college more streamlined and in general less stressful."


Grades achieved at MPW: A*AA Progressed to: University of York (Law)

"Honestly, I could not imagine when I joined MPW that, due to language and adaptation barriers, I would achieve top grades in my first A-level exam sittings. This view changed completely after only a few weeks in the college’s supportive and motivational environment; with teachers who aimed at finding a personal touch with each student and with my Personal Tutor who made my adjustment to the UK education system not only an easy step in my life but, more importantly, an enjoyable one."


Grades achieved at MPW: A*A*A* Progressed to: University College London (Economics)

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Grades achieved at MPW: A*A*A* Progressed to: University College London (Mathematics and Statistics)

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Grades achieved at MPW: A*AABB Progressed to: King's College London (International Relations)

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