Should I study Music or Music Technology?

It is possible for students to study both Music and Music Technology as these two courses are separate and independent A levels. Both need an enthusiasm for music and a willingness to understand how music works. Both involve creative practical work such as composition and a theoretical understanding of music as well. Before starting either course, students should be active musicians, and remain committed to developing their skills as a musician throughout the course.

Music A level examines skills in performance, composition, listening and analysis. This challenging, yet hugely rewarding, course gives students the chance to increasingly follow their own interests in music, whilst allowing them to develop both broader and deeper understanding of a range of musical styles.

As well as traditional performance, there is a Music Technology option (sequencing) for performance within this A level. Composition workshops and individual self-directed projects give students a chance to further develop their own writing style.

Entry requirements

GCSE Music at grade B or above and grade 4 standard (ABRSM or equivalent) or above in their first instrument/ voice.

Course Content

Throughout the 2-year course, students explore, and develop, a repertoire of musical techniques focussed around three areas of study: performance, composition and music appraisal. During the second year of study, students complete three tasks: an extended performance of 10 to 12 minutes to at least Grade 6 standard, two compositions (one to a brief and one free) and a listening and analysis exam. The two coursework activities build on the work of the first year and are completed during lesson time, while the end-of-course exam assesses musical and contextual understanding.

Future Opportunities

This is a respected A level course which prepares students well for university. It may lead to a career as a performer, composer, recording musician, conductor, instrumental teacher, music therapist or, perhaps in combination with Music Technology, producer, recording engineer or sound technician. Recent destinations for leavers reading music have included Birmingham Conservatoire, Southampton University and St John’s College, Cambridge.


Student Profiles

Zoe Farrow

When not on stage performing in music theatre or singing in a choir, Zoe is a busy and talented composer. Zoe studied GCSE Music, piano and voice before beginning her A level Music. Recently she has taken lead roles in school musicals (Amber in Hairspray and Roxy in Chicago) and is currently working towards her Grade 8 Rock School voice exam. In July 2014 Zoe won the John Williams Music Performance prize and in October 2014 Zoe won the senior category of the Wokingham Choral Society composition competition. This success means that she will have her work performed in concert and the opportunity to take part in a workshop with renowned composer Cecilia McDowall.

 Zoe Farrow ‘Peace of Mind’ – recorded at the Reading Great Hall

Christopher Travis

Having learnt many different instruments (at least 12 at last count), Chris has settled on Double Bass for his conservertoire application. A regular in school production bands and orchestras, as well as many Berkshire Maestros ensembles, Chris also sings and composes and aspires to a career as a professional musician.