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    For anyone who takes or has taken A-level music, I am starting it next year and am just wondering what it is like?
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    Hiya! I did Edexcel but I’m pretty sure it’s similar across exam boards (awaiting results now ahhh!)

    There were a lot of set works that we had to learn about and know the features of in quite a large amount of detail which definitely proved to be a challenge, but if you listen to the set works enough and get to know them well it starts becoming less of a problem because you can just think about the piece instead of remembering facts all the time. Listening to pieces outside the spec will also definitely help, especially when it comes to essays on unseen listening or ones that ask you to link the set works to wider listening. Plus if you listen to lots of pieces it’ll help you identify features of certain styles more easily.

    With regards to the practical side, composition is just like GCSE, except it’s longer and you are a lot more free with what you do (could be different for other specs though) Gone are the days of no dissonance or having to have a clear structure! (I liked that part). Depending on exam board you may have a technical task as part of composition too - I had to harmonise two Bach chorales, but if you’re lucky you won’t have to do it. Performance is a long way away still (usually done in year 13) but make sure you know your pieces well before the performance date in order to give the best performance possible. This time around you’ll have an audience as well (this can be just two people - we just performed in front of our music class), so bear that in mind as I find having an audience can be very off-putting!

    If you have any specific questions I’ll do my best to answer
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    (Original post by queentoadstool)
    Hiya! I did Edexcel but I’m pretty sure it’s similar across exam boards (awaiting results now ahhh!)

    There were a lot of set works that we had to learn about and know the features of in quite a large amount of detail which definitely proved to be a challenge, but if you listen to the set works enough and get to know them well it starts becoming less of a problem because you can just think about the piece instead of remembering facts all the time. Listening to pieces outside the spec will also definitely help, especially when it comes to essays on unseen listening or ones that ask you to link the set works to wider listening. Plus if you listen to lots of pieces it’ll help you identify features of certain styles more easily.

    With regards to the practical side, composition is just like GCSE, except it’s longer and you are a lot more free with what you do (could be different for other specs though) Gone are the days of no dissonance or having to have a clear structure! (I liked that part). Depending on exam board you may have a technical task as part of composition too - I had to harmonise two Bach chorales, but if you’re lucky you won’t have to do it. Performance is a long way away still (usually done in year 13) but make sure you know your pieces well before the performance date in order to give the best performance possible. This time around you’ll have an audience as well (this can be just two people - we just performed in front of our music class), so bear that in mind as I find having an audience can be very off-putting!

    If you have any specific questions I’ll do my best to answer

    Thank you so much, I don't know what exam board we are doing yet but it will probably be AQA. For the performance how long does it have to be and do you have to do both a solo and ensemble. I am the only one taking A-level music in our year so probably won't have an audience. Compared to GCSE, is there a big jump to A-level and is the analysis of set works a lot harder?
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    (Original post by Crazypink48)
    Thank you so much, I don't know what exam board we are doing yet but it will probably be AQA. For the performance how long does it have to be and do you have to do both a solo and ensemble. I am the only one taking A-level music in our year so probably won't have an audience. Compared to GCSE, is there a big jump to A-level and is the analysis of set works a lot harder?
    I’ve taken a quick look at the AQA A level spec and from what I’ve read your performance will have to be 10 minutes minimum and can be a combination of solo and ensemble performance or just one of them, but both aren’t compulsory. I wasn’t too sure about an audience for yours, I just know for mine it was required, and had to be recorded in one go but you may be lucky and not have to do that.

    I didn’t find the jump from GCSE too difficult as the coursework was not that much different (plus I compose in my free time anyway which made composition a bit easier). In terms of set works, for GCSE we had only one set work that we learnt in ridiculous detail so I actually found analysing the A level works a bit easier, as it wasn’t so in depth. The hard bit is the sheer amount of set works we had to do (18, most of the with movements!), but most of the features they want you to recognise in the works you can hear when you listen to them so as long as you’re confident about knowing what the piece goes like it shouldn’t be too bad. Knowing the features of different periods and styles of music (eg baroque, jazz etc) can be super helpful when analysing works.
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    (Original post by queentoadstool)
    I’ve taken a quick look at the AQA A level spec and from what I’ve read your performance will have to be 10 minutes minimum and can be a combination of solo and ensemble performance or just one of them, but both aren’t compulsory. I wasn’t too sure about an audience for yours, I just know for mine it was required, and had to be recorded in one go but you may be lucky and not have to do that.

    I didn’t find the jump from GCSE too difficult as the coursework was not that much different (plus I compose in my free time anyway which made composition a bit easier). In terms of set works, for GCSE we had only one set work that we learnt in ridiculous detail so I actually found analysing the A level works a bit easier, as it wasn’t so in depth. The hard bit is the sheer amount of set works we had to do (18, most of the with movements!), but most of the features they want you to recognise in the works you can hear when you listen to them so as long as you’re confident about knowing what the piece goes like it shouldn’t be too bad. Knowing the features of different periods and styles of music (eg baroque, jazz etc) can be super helpful when analysing works.
    Thank you. I know the features of different periods from aural tests and I learnt them for GCSE as well. Oh wow, that is a lot of set works! For GCSE we had six pieces overall to learn. For your exam, what was the format of the written exam?
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    (Original post by Crazypink48)
    Thank you. I know the features of different periods from aural tests and I learnt them for GCSE as well. Oh wow, that is a lot of set works! For GCSE we had six pieces overall to learn. For your exam, what was the format of the written exam?
    So our written exam was three sections: A,B, and C.
    Section A was answering listening questions on our set works. Things like “what instrument enters at bar...”, “ what melodic device is used in the violin at bar...” or longer ones such as “give three points as to how the composer has achieved such and such” but no essays. Generally stuff you would have learnt about in class or private study.
    Section B was an essay about a previously unheard piece of music. Usually something like “the composer intended to portray this. How were they successful in doing so?” And then it would be linked to one of the works we’d studied as well as wider listening you’d done.
    Section C was a choice of one of three essays about the set works. Usually something like “evaluate melody, harmony, and sonority in this piece” and you’d need to link it to outside listening and provide historical context.
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    (Original post by queentoadstool)
    So our written exam was three sections: A,B, and C.
    Section A was answering listening questions on our set works. Things like “what instrument enters at bar...”, “ what melodic device is used in the violin at bar...” or longer ones such as “give three points as to how the composer has achieved such and such” but no essays. Generally stuff you would have learnt about in class or private study.
    Section B was an essay about a previously unheard piece of music. Usually something like “the composer intended to portray this. How were they successful in doing so?” And then it would be linked to one of the works we’d studied as well as wider listening you’d done.
    Section C was a choice of one of three essays about the set works. Usually something like “evaluate melody, harmony, and sonority in this piece” and you’d need to link it to outside listening and provide historical context.
    Oh right so you didn't have to do listening on unknown pieces like in GCSE?
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    (Original post by Crazypink48)
    Oh right so you didn't have to do listening on unknown pieces like in GCSE?
    Yeah no short answer ones for me (thankfully!), just the essay on one unknown piece. Even then you decide what musical points you want to make (as long as they’re relevant to the question)
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    (Original post by Crazypink48)
    Oh right so you didn't have to do listening on unknown pieces like in GCSE?
    Note that for AQA there are unseen listening questions, but they will be on "strands" that you will have studied.

    For AQA, Western Classical music from 1650-1910 is compulsory, made up of Baroque solo concertos, the operas of Mozart and the piano music of Chopin, Brahms and Grieg. There are specific set works you will study for each of those sub-categories, eg the first two acts of Mozart's Opera "Marriage of Figaro". You will be tested on set works and unseens with both short and long answer questions.

    Then you choose two others "strands" from "Pop music", "Music for media", "Music for theatre", "Jazz", "Contemporary traditional music", and "Art music since 1910". Again there are some set works for each strand. In the exam you will have to answer some short and long answer questions on both chosen strands, and write one extended essay on just one of these two strands (the extended essay can't be on the Western Classical strand).

    Composition is one free composition and one composition to a brief set by AQA at the start of each year (they release multiple briefs, including a set of two technical chorale harmonisations in the style of Bach). They must both be at least 6 minutes long or something. Check the specification for the real time limit because I don't remember it.

    Performance is at least 10 minutes.
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    (Original post by K-Man_PhysCheM)
    Note that for AQA there are unseen listening questions, but they will be on "strands" that you will have studied.

    For AQA, Western Classical music from 1650-1910 is compulsory, made up of Baroque solo concertos, the operas of Mozart and the piano music of Chopin, Brahms and Grieg. There are specific set works you will study for each of those sub-categories, eg the first two acts of Mozart's Opera "Marriage of Figaro". You will be tested on set works and unseens with both short and long answer questions.

    Then you choose two others "strands" from "Pop music", "Music for media", "Music for theatre", "Jazz", "Contemporary traditional music", and "Art music since 1910". Again there are some set works for each strand. In the exam you will have to answer some short and long answer questions on both chosen strands, and write one extended essay on just one of these two strands (the extended essay can't be on the Western Classical strand).

    Composition is one free composition and one composition to a brief set by AQA at the start of each year (they release multiple briefs, including a set of two technical chorale harmonisations in the style of Bach). They must both be at least 6 minutes long or something. Check the specification for the real time limit because I don't remember it.

    Performance is at least 10 minutes.

    Thank you!! I think we will probably be doing AQA. For the performance, is it a combination of pieces adding up to last at least 10 minutes or do you have to play continuously for that length of time?
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    (Original post by Crazypink48)
    Thank you!! I think we will probably be doing AQA. For the performance, is it a combination of pieces adding up to last at least 10 minutes or do you have to play continuously for that length of time?
    I did it as one continuous recital with a couple pieces, though I am used to giving much longer recitals. I can't remember whether you are allowed to do separate recordings and combine them onto one track, or whether it should be a full continuous recital. But I'd assume that at this level a continuous recital would be expected. What I do know for certain is that you can repeat the recording as many times as you want before the deadline.

    Check the specification on the AQA website for more details, including marking criteria: https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/musi...vel/music-7272

    Here are the weightings of each component for AQA:

    Performance: 35%
    Composition: 25%
    Exam: 40%
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    (Original post by K-Man_PhysCheM)
    I did it as one continuous recital with a couple pieces, though I am used to giving much longer recitals. I can't remember whether you are allowed to do separate recordings and combine them onto one track, or whether it should be a full continuous recital. But I'd assume that at this level a continuous recital would be expected. What I do know for certain is that you can repeat the recording as many times as you want before the deadline.

    Check the specification on the AQA website for more details, including marking criteria: https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/musi...vel/music-7272

    Here are the weightings of each component for AQA:

    Performance: 35%
    Composition: 25%
    Exam: 40%
    Ah right, a few pieces in one go is fine, was just worried that you had to play a 10 minute long piece!
 
 
 
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