Music A-Level

Music at A level is worth choosing as a complementary/contrasting subject to other A-Levels even if you don’t end up studying music at university.


Those who have  gone on to do a degree in music at university after leaving Ballyclare High School have ended up pursuing careers as classroom teachers, instrumental teachers,  performers, composers, broadcasters, conductors and even sound engineers.


The GCE Music qualification is made up of two parts: AS and A2. The AS can be taken as a stand-alone qualification without progression to A2. However, to gain a full GCE, students must complete both parts of the course.

The course continues the core skills of listening, composing and performing encountered at GCSE. Pupils are free to perform and compose in any style of their choice and on any instrument. A few pupils have undertaken AS Music in the past who have not taken the GCSE course and have performed well, but these are generally pupils who are already competent performers and composers.

The minimum standard for performance is Grade 4 at AS and Grade 5 at A2, though there are additional marks available if more demanding pieces are performed well.

The course is divided into four units. Students must study two units at AS level and a further two units at A2 level.



Examining Board: CCEA


Course Content

The AS Level music course builds on the foundation set at GCSE particularly in the areas of listening, composing and performing. AS1  Performance – solo and viva voce (32.5% of AS/13% of A level)

AS Music – standalone or 40% of the full A-level in Music

AS2  Composition/Composition with Technology and written commentary (32.5% of AS/13% of A level )

AS3  Responding to Music – Listening and Written Papers (35% of AS/14% of A level)

A2 Music

60% of the full A-level in Music

The A2 Level music course builds on the foundation set at AS level particularly in the areas of listening, composing and performing.

A21  Performance – solo and viva voce (19.5% of A level)

A22  Composition/Composition with Technology and written commentary (19.5% of A level )

A23  Responding to Music – Listening and Written Papers (21% of A level)


Teaching Methods

The listening and essay writing components are taught as a whole class.

The composition units (because of the range of styles available) are developed individually under the supervision of Miss Orr and Mrs Doherty.

Much of the practical/performance work is studied with EA peripatetic teachers or private teachers at the expense of parents/careers.


Assessment Methods

Class tasks/tests are taken as each topic progresses or is completed. Homeworks are given regularly and pupils are provided with written feedback. More formal school exams are taken in January. A visiting Assessor from CCEA visits the School in May to mark the practical components. The 2½ minute composition is developed as coursework and externally moderated by CCEA. The Listening and Written papers are taken in May/June.