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La Retraithe Sixth Form


Studying Music at the La Retraite 6

Exam Board: Pearson/Edexcel

Entry Criteria: 5 GCSE Level 5 grades including Music

Mandatory: at the beginning of the course, you should already have the ability to play an instrument/sing to a minimum of music examination Grade 5 (ABRSM or equivalent) with the expectation that you would be at music examination Grade 7 by November of Y13.  If you have not completed and passed any music instrument/singing graded examinations (ABRSM or equivalent), you will be required to play/sing to demonstrate your level of ability.

Highly desirable: GCSE Music grade 5 or above; Theory of music qualification Grade 5 or above (ABRSM or equivalent); GCSE English & Maths grades 4 or above.


A Level music is a varied course that will allow you to develop skills that all employers and universities find highly attractive.  These include areas such as self-management, creativity, data analysis, performance, teamwork, problem-solving, and communication.

Students who study music very often go on to have successful careers not just within the arts (such as teaching, performance, and arts administration), but also in other fields, such as broadcasting, publishing, law, politics, and the Civil Service.


Students will develop a true understanding of music.  This will involve investigating what different pieces of music are expressive of.  This includes aspects such as the mood, emotion, message, and attached meaning it communicates.  Students will then analyse music to discover how a composer creates this expression.

Students will use historical skills to research the context surrounding when a piece of music was written and find out its original purpose to uncover why a composer made the choices they did.

Students will then make your own music, inspired by what you have learnt, as well as drawing on your own experiences.  Similarly, students will use your increased understanding to make their own interpretation of other people’s music in a performance recital.


Students will receive 300 minutes of lessons each week.  Teaching staff are highly experienced and hold post graduate degrees in music and teaching.  In these lessons the teacher will explain and demonstrate learning content.  Students will then complete interesting and creative tasks to develop their own musical understanding and skills.  Class sizes are small, allowing for a high level of teacher support and coaching.

Students will also receive a 30-minute instrumental lesson each week with a visiting specialist.  Our music instrument teachers are all highly accomplished performers and experienced teachers of their instrument.  When they are not teaching in school, they often perform with famous pop stars and orchestras, meaning students will be learning from the very best on how to become a great performer yourself.  The school funds the cost of this additional tuition.


It is recommended that students complete 6 hours a week of study outside of lessons. At least half of this time should be for practising a musical instrument.

YOU’LL ENJOY THIS COURSE IF… have a passionate love of music and a burning desire to understand what makes it such an important part of being human.


Component 1 Performing 30% (NEA)

  • Total performance time of 8 minutes
  • Performance can be solo and/or ensemble
  • Total of 60 marks (12 marks available for difficulty of pieces)

Component 2 Composing 30% (NEA)

  • 2 compositions
  • 1 free or free choice brief – minimum of 4 minutes (40 marks)
  • 1 brief assessing technique – minimum of 1 minute (20 marks)
  • Together total minimum of 6 minutes
  • Total of 60 marks

Component 3 Appraising 40% (Exam hrs.)

  • 6 Areas of Study with 2 set works in each
    • Vocal Music
    • Instrumental Music
    • Music for Film
    • Popular Music and Jazz
    • Fusions
    • New Directions Exam
  • Total of 100 marks.


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