Entry Guidance:

5 GCSEs at grades A* to C or equivalent, including at least a grade B in GCSE Music. Students need to be the equivalent of Grade 5 on their instrument and it is desirable for students to have completed or be working towards grade 5 theory.

Syllabus Outline:

The course follows the OCR specification which contains:


AS level (Year 12)

Unit G351: Performing Music

OCR-assessed Practical Examination (visiting examiner)

You are required to perform a solo (on any instrument or voice) a programme of pieces which demonstrate representative features of the repertoire for the instrument or voice presented. If it is appropriate to the repertoire being performed, you may improvise.

The programme should last no longer than eight minutes.

You need to be able to demonstrate:

  • secure knowledge of the music and fluency in its performance;

  • technical control across a range of techniques;

  • understanding of relevant performance markings and/or performing conventions; and

  • aural and stylistic understanding.


    Unit G352: Composing


    Section A: The Language of Western Tonal Harmony


    Candidates should submit a set of seven exercises: six completed during the course and one completed under centre supervision towards the end of the course.


    Section B Instrumental Composition or Arrangement


    A composition or arrangement for between four and ten instruments lasting no more than three minutes.


    The composition must be submitted as a full score together with a recording.


Unit G353: Introduction to Historical Study in Music 90 marks


Timed Examination Paper (1 hour 45 minutes + 15 minutes preparation time)


Section A Aural Extract: one of

  •        solo instrumental chamber or orchestral repertoire from the period 1700 to 1830
  •        popular instrumental music from 1900 to the present day 30 marks


Section B Prescribed Works: two extracts

  •        18th/early 19th century Orchestra
  •        Jazz 1920 to 1960 40 marks


Section C Contextual Study: one question from three 20 marks


A2 Level (Year 13)


Unit G354: Performing Music 2:  


OCR-assessed Practical Examination (visiting examiner)

Section A Recital: solo, ensemble or accompanying (maximum 15 minutes)  

Section B Viva voce: interpretative understanding (approximately 5 minutes)



Unit G355: Composing 2 



Teacher-assessed Portfolio


Section A Stylistic Techniques: exercises (maximum 8) based on one of:


• two-part counterpoint of the late 16th century

• two-part Baroque counterpoint

• chorale harmonisations in the style of J.S. Bach

• string quartets in the Classical style

• keyboard accompaniments in early Romantic style

• popular song

• serialism

• minimalism


Section B Composition: one of:

• vocal setting of a text (maximum 120 words or 4 stanzas)

• instrumental interpretation of a programme (maximum 4 minutes)

• music for film/TV (maximum 4 minutes)


Unit G356: Historical and Analytical Studies in Music



Timed Examination Paper (1 hour 45 minutes + 15 minutes preparation time)


Section A Aural extract: accompanied vocal music 1900 to 1945


Section B Prescribed topics: two questions from three on one of six topics:


• Song

• Programme Music

• Music for Screen

• Music and Belief

• Music for the Stage

• Post-1945 Popular Music








General Comments:


Studying music at A-Level gives you the power to engage with music more deeply as a performer, composer and listener. There are many courses available at universities and conservatoires, from which music graduates enter a hugely diverse range of professions both in and out of the world of music and the creative arts. Although A-Level music involves a lot of creative work (around 60%), the theoretical study of music history and theory is sufficiently rigorous that it is accepted as a serious academic subject for entry to most university courses.