Music A-Level | Surbiton High School
shape shield section

Music A-Level

Examination Board: Eduqas

Many students choose to study Music at KS5 because of their innate love for the subject, the challenge and stimulation it provides, and because it is a subject widely respected by universities. Some of the skills involved are unique to the subject, but many other disciplines complement the work of other subjects. A-level Music is strongly recommended for anyone who enjoys performing, composing and listening to music, and is mandatory for anyone who hopes to pursue a performing course at Music college or wishes to take an academic Music course at university.

Although some students may study A-level Music without having any other prior qualification, it is helpful to have studied Music at GCSE. We recommend that you can perform to Grade 6 standard before starting the course. You will also need to be able to write English fluently, have a good ‘musical ear’ (e.g. completing aural tests successfully within your performance exams) and have had experience composing. Most importantly, you should be keen to explore and evaluate a wide range of musical styles, both as a listener and as a participant.

A-level Music is an excellent foundation for a range of careers in the arts, which include performing, composing, teaching, musical research, journalism, arts management and music therapy. Music is also unusual in that many professionals from other walks of life are often enthusiastic and highly accomplished amateur musicians and, while many students intend to work in a different field, they find that A-level Music gives them the background to pursue a lifelong interest in playing and listening. It is worth noting that in 2011, the Confederate of British Industry outlined the seven skills that define employability: self-management, teamwork, business and customer awareness, problem solving, communication, numeracy, and IT skills. Music students develop all seven of these. By this measure, music graduates are among the most employable of all.


Component 1: Performing – 35% (Option A) or 25% (Option B) of the qualification

Students may choose whether to major on performance or composition.
A public performance of at least three pieces if opting for Option A or two pieces if opting for Option B, performed as a recital.
■ The performance can be playing any instrument(s) and/or voice. At least one piece must be as a soloist for Option A.
■ The total performance time across all pieces must be 10-12 minutes for Option A or 6-8 minutes for Option B.
■ For Option A, one piece must reflect the musical characteristics of one area of study. At least one other piece must reflect the musical characteristics of one other, different area of study.
■ The recital is externally assessed by a visiting examiner in the Summer Term of Year 13.

Component 2: Composing – 25% (Option A) or 35% (Option B) of the qualification

The number of compositions required depends on whether the student chooses to major in composing or performing.
■ For Option A, students write two compositions lasting 4-6 minutes duration.
■ One composition is a response to a set brief released in September of Year 13. This reflects the musical conventions of the Western Classical Tradition.
■ The second composition is a free composition.
■ For Option B, students compose three compositions lasting 8-10 minutes duration.
■ The additional composition must link to a different area of study (not Western Classical Tradition).
■ Compositions are externally assessed by WJEC.

Component 3: Appraising – 40% of the qualification

Content overview:
■ Knowledge and understanding of musical elements, contexts and language.
■ Application of knowledge through the context of three areas of study, each with set works or focused areas of analysis.
■ Application of knowledge to unfamiliar works.
■ The areas of study are: Area of Study A: The Western Classical Tradition (Development of the Symphony 1750-1900); Area of Study C: Musical Theatre, and Area of Study E: Into the Twentieth Century.

Former Pupil to Row at Olympics 2024



Lola Anderson