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The Knights Templar Music Department is a vibrant and exciting place to be. The A Level Music course is challenging and rewarding and the students who choose it are committed to their musical studies. With our excellent facilities, partnerships and the numerous performing ensembles, students often say that it is one of their most enjoyable A levels..

Courses Offered

A Level Music (OCR)

Syllabus Breakdown

The aim of this course is to develop your abilities as an intelligent musician. It is structured around three units. 

UNIT 1 Performing 35% (externally assessed via video recording)   

This takes the form of a recital, either as a soloist, ensemble player or accompanist. You will present at least two contrasting pieces on your instrument(s) or voice.  

You will also need to perform an additional third piece that demonstrates an in-depth understanding of the repertoire for your instrument. 

UNIT 2 Composing (externally assessed coursework) 

This takes the form of two compositions. Composition 1 is written to a brief set by the exam board. Composition 2 is written to a brief set by the student in discussion with the teacher. 

UNIT 3 Listening & Appraising 40% (exam paper)  

Section A (30 marks) 

Aural analysis of unfamiliar music taken from: 

  • Area of Study 1: Instrumental Music of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven 
  • Area of Study 2: Popular Song – Blues, Jazz, Swing and Big Band 

This section consists of short answer questions, chord recognition and melodic/rhythmic dictation 

Section B (40 marks) 

Analysis of extracts from set works. 

These set works are from Areas of Study 1 & 2 and for the exam in 2026 will be: 

  • Area of Study 1: Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante in E flat major, K. 364 (1779-80), first movement
  • Area of Study 2: Bessie Smith: (i) ‘Young Woman’s Blues’ (October 26, 1926), (ii) ‘Back Water Blues’ (February 17, 1927), (iii) ‘Alexander’s Rag Time Band’ (March 2, 1927), (iv) ‘Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out’ (May 15, 1929)

Section C (50 marks) 

Essay questions based upon two additional areas of study 

The additional areas of study are: 

  • Area of Study 3: Instrumental Jazz – 1910 to the present day 
  • Area of Study 6: Innovations in Music from 1900 to the present day  

These two areas enable us to study an incredibly exciting range of music from the last 100 years. Spanning tumultuous orchestral music such as Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, through Bebop, Minimalism, Cool Jazz and experimental electronic compositions, your ears will be opened!

Subject Key Concepts

#1 Singing         
#2 Composing          #3 Improvising         #4 Performing      

#5 Critical Engagement         #6 Technology        #7 Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural

Please click here for Subject Key Concepts.

Minimum Entry Requirements

As well as the general entry requirements, grade 5 or above in GCSE Music (and/or grade 5 music theory) is very useful but not essential. In terms of performing, students should be working at grade 5 level at the start of the course. If students are not already fluent, practice in reading staff notation will be required over the summer. 

Why Study Music?

Studying Music at A Level offers students a unique perspective on the world. It shows them how art has responded to global events and how music develops over time in tandem with social and technological change. Music is recognised by universities as a rigorous academic qualification that will contribute toward entry requirements for most subjects. It also widens students’ musical and cultural horizons, offering them practical opportunities to develop and grow as musicians and young people. 


Wider Opportunities

The Knights Templar Music Department offers a variety of workshops and concerts throughout the year. We organise regular visits to see live music; recently including trips to London’s Royal Albert Hall, The Royal Festival Hall and live opera screenings at Letchworth’s Broadway Cinema. 

Every two years, we put on a Musical production, in partnership with the Drama Department: Fiddler on the Roof was performed in 2016, The Wizard of Oz in 2018 and most recently, Beauty and the Beast in 2022. In addition, we plan to resume our European Tours, which most recently took us to Prague in 2018. 

Music students are encouraged to take full advantage of the wealth of extra-curricular ensembles on offer at Knights Templar School. These include Orchestra, Brass Band, Big Band, Choir as well as numerous student-led ensembles. 

We encourage our musicians to become Music Prefects, in order for them to develop their leadership skills, help out with extra-curricular activities and gain experience in the classroom with the lower years

What Our Students Say:

"A level music was a fantastic course and one that is so stimulating in so many different, yet vital aspects of music. Within the course I am convinced that every musician will be stretched and learn things they didn’t even know existed. I couldn’t recommend music at KTS more highly. It has been a privilege to be part of this department.” 

"Music at KTS fully prepared me for University. A level music challenged my skills and moved my learning forward in ways I never expected. The staff are committed to getting the students the highest results possible.” 

"One of the main reasons I moved to Knights Templar for sixth form was because of the music department. 
I would like to thank the staff for their excellent teaching, friendly approach and support during my time at KTS”. 

What Can I Do Next?

Many of our students go on to study Music at university, college or conservatoire. 

Music is a very versatile subject providing students with skills that employers require when looking to recruit well rounded individuals. Due to the nature of the subject musicians can demonstrate team work, communication and performing in front of others, analytical skills, working to deadlines and technological skills.

Careers in Music:

Musician, Artist Management, Composing, Teaching, Music Therapy, Musicologist, Publishing and Production. 

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