A level Music

A level Music at Ashbourne is an exciting and challenging subject. Students are encouraged to explore a variety of genres, from classical, theatre and contemporary to jazz, pop and film.

Students will examine the historical, social and cultural context of composers and their music, and learn how musical elements like melody, tempo and structure can develop mood, evoke feeling and bring a piece together.

We offer plenty of opportunities for students to perform either on their own or in collaboration with others, including specially organised events like ‘Death and Venice’ – Ashbourne Soloists Concert held locally at St. Mary Abbots Church – and the annual Ashbourne Revue. Students will also create their own compositions, including digitally produced pieces.

Ashbourne Revue highlights, 2016
Our enthusiastic and talented music teacher Piers brings many years of experience in composition and performance to direct students throughout.

Whatever your taste London provides a fantastic and world-class selection of live music and venues, as well as specialist music shops, workshops and festivals.

Ashbourne also offers a limited number of Music scholarships to talented students.

Why study Music?

Throughout history and in every culture music has been created, shared and enjoyed, from simple percussion of prehistoric humans to sophisticated musical expression of the Renaissance, providing us with a wonderful heritage and a huge range of styles and genres that exist today.

Studying music will allow you to expand your musical repertoire, develop a real appreciation of what you hear and discover how elements of music work together so you can put them into practice to create your own masterpieces and build your confidence performing in front of an audience.

You will also discover what inspires musicians, how they develop techniques for practice and performance and learn vital skills working with others.

Music will open avenues of study into a variety of other areas like history (musical context), language (structure and elements), art and performance (opera, theatre, film and media) and science (acoustics; physical responses to music; psychology for performance and practice). And will require discipline through personal practice.

Which syllabus do we follow?

Ashbourne follows the AQA specification for Music AS level and A level.

What is covered on the course?

Students will explore a variety of musical genres, e.g. classical, contemporary, jazz, pop and theatre, to develop their appreciation and understanding of music through context, musical elements and language. This provides students with an excellent foundation to then perform (solo or ensemble) and compose.

AppraisalPerformanceComposition

Listen, analyse and contextualise

What makes the Baroque solo concertos of Vivaldi, Bach and Purcell so different? How did Mozart’s audiences respond to his classical operas at the time? How did Chopin, Brahms and Grieg use musical elements in their Romantic piano music to create the impact they desired?

By taking an in-depth look at the Western classical tradition (1650–1910) you will explore the sophisticated connections between music and its context, why contemporary composers produced such different music, the complex interdependency between musical elements and the variety of musical vocabulary and terminology used to describe the music. You will learn how to identify and describe elements of music like melody, tonality, tempo, texture, dynamics and articulation.

You will chose two musical genres – from pop, media, theatre, jazz, contemporary tradition and art music since 1910 – to investigate.

You will also take a look at the context in which the music was composed or performed, examine how the artists apply their musical theory to produce a desired style or mood and be able to identify and describe the musical elements within the music using relevant vocabulary and terminology.

Whether you intend to play Rachmaninoff’s third piano concerto, out-sing Beyonce, blow away Louis Armstrong on your trumpet or give Hans Zimmerman a run for his money, then this is the time to do it.

You will need to show off your technical ability, musicality and sensitivity to the style and context of the music. Interpreting and analysing how the composer intended the piece to be performed is also critical.

Whether you perform solo or ensemble, it is your individual performance that is assessed.

Now you have learned to analyse the music of others and understand how musical elements are used to create full and dynamic pieces you will get the chance to make your own compositions.

You will be asked to compose one piece to a given brief as well as your own free composition. This involves creating a notated score, written accounts and lead sheets by hand or using music software. You may also produce a piece digitally using software with accompanying annotation rather than a notated score.

Who teaches the course?

Piers Tattersall

MA Music Composition (Royal College of Music);
BA Music Composition (Royal Northern College of Music)

Piers has been composing for many years and his work has been performed widely including by the Britten Sinfonia, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, The Composers’ Ensemble and London Children’s Ballet.

Piers runs Ashbourne’s choir and music club and has been instrumental in the production of our popular annual Ashbourne Revue.

Beyond A level Music

A level Music is a requirement for all Music courses at university and is a well respected qualification in itself.

Pathways in to the music industry are many and varied. You could train as a professional musician and perform at the Royal Albert Hall, compose for the English Ballet, sing at the Royal Opera House, produce blockbuster movie soundtracks, become a rock star, singer songwriter or pop star, compose and record your own tracks, conduct your own orchestra, offer music as therapy, sign up new bands, become a famous session musician, rock the house as a club or radio DJ, write about music, teach and much more.