A-Level Music

The Music department is an alternate universe where pupils are often unrecognisable from who they are outside of it. The shy become confident. The agitated become calm. The lonely become included. The quiet become heard. And the lost become found. Music reveals the real child”.
(Vaughan Fleischfresser)

This beautiful quote summarises the ethos we hold in the music department at Ackworth School. We want to allow every child to unlock their musical potential, and to nurture and celebrate the talent that a great number of our students have.

The spacious Music centre boasts a recital hall, two classrooms, iMac suite and a large number of practice rooms, equipped for music-making. Our status as an All-Steinway School means that we have a number of superior grand and upright pianos, upon which students learn, compose and perform.

A Level Music (AQA) is very specialised, with a focus on Western classical music, popular music and musical theatre. Students study several pieces of music, developing their analytical skills and ability to write fluently and discursively about music. In addition, students will prepare and perform a small recital on their chosen instrument, and compose a portfolio of compositions.

At Ackworth, the extra-curricular contribution of music is just as important as the academic, with a very busy programme of ensembles, events, concerts and visits throughout the year, including collaboration with the drama department. Our ensembles regularly perform both in and out of school, and at annual events, such as the Christmas Concert and Open Day, which allow us to showcase our talented students. We also have a team of eight visiting music teachers that deliver lessons on a wide range of instruments, across the age range.

Department Staff:

Oliver McCarthy-Bell (Director of Music)

Alison Wise (Teacher of Music, Coram House)

Chris Bacon (Visiting music teacher – brass)

Carol Clegg (Visiting music teacher – drums and percussion)

Clare Herriott (Visiting music teacher – viola and cello)

Helen Issitt (Visiting music teacher – piano)

Elyse Mellor (Visiting music teacher – woodwind)

Rae Strong (Head of Strings, visiting music teacher – violin, piano, recorder and theory)

Jeff Swift (Visiting music teacher – guitar)

Eleanor Younger (Visiting music teacher – voice)

Exam board: AQA

Syllabus code: 7272




Module and course content:

Component 1 – Appraising Music (40%)

In this component you have the opportunity to study and develop your understanding of different musical styles, that can be tailored to your interests. Alongside the compulsory Western Classical Tradition, possible areas of study include Music for Theatre, Popular Music, Jazz, and Contemporary Classical music. This unit is assessed by an exam at the end of the course and comprises three sections:

  • Section A – Listening questions based on the three areas of study covered
  • Section B – An analysis section based on the Classical set works, including short answers and extended writing
  • Section C – An essay question on one of the optional areas of study

Component 2 – Performance (35%)

You will prepare and perform a 10-12 minute recital on an instrument of your choosing (as a soloist and/or ensemble), which is internally recorded and marked by the Awarding Body.

Component 3 – Composition (25%)

You will compose two separate pieces, one of which is a free composition, which can be written in any style/genre, and the other is a response to an external brief, loosely linked to the areas of study. Again, this is written internally and sent to the Awarding Body to be marked.


Pupil quotes:

“Music at Ackworth is a department that everyone loves to be a part whether it is academic or extra-curricular participation. As a subject, the department is well-equipped to ensure what you are being taught is to a high standard, such as pianos, various instruments and iMacs to complete composition. The number of extra-curricular groups the department music offers is much greater than any other department with various ensembles, both vocal and instrumental, all of which perform in many of the concerts held at Ackworth.

“Music allows students from different year groups to work together, and gives people great confidence in order to perform to a large number of people. The staff are amazing as well, not just in their music ability, but by being so kind and caring to every student, creating a community feel between everyone there.”

Lucy, Upper Sixth

“The music community at Ackworth is something I have always been a part of, and have particularly come to appreciate in recent years. I have been having clarinet lessons since Coram House, and this experience has not only been valuable in terms of being able to take part in concerts, with Senior Orchestra and Ackworth Ensemble, but also in terms of increasing my confidence in other aspects of school life, and laying a foundation for extra-curricular life at university.

“Moreover, Choir and Chamber Choir, for me, have the perfect balance of enjoyment and discipline, feeling like a down-time from the school day, whilst also having a high standard of performances. I especially appreciate the opportunity to go on trips (such as to Jersey or London) and perform in different venues as part of a community of people who share a love for music.”

Emily, Upper Sixth