Keynote Educational


A-Level Music: Creating Outstanding Compositions

Course Code:


Lead by an A level examiner and former Head of Music, this course, first delivered in the Autumn of 2020 and described by one delegate as ‘truly inspiring’, is designed for all teachers of A level Music, regardless of exam board. The course includes a detailed examination of what students need to demonstrate to examiners at A level, including looking at the definitions of key assessment terms used in the highest criteria, and exactly why they are used, and how these can be integrated into the composition process. This also provides valid and accurate data for tracking and assessing within the department. Alternative approaches to composition briefs will be examined that allow students to maximise efficiency, yet write with greater technical skill for the highest marks. The need to balance creative freedom with academic rigour will be discussed, and three examples of free briefs will be dissected. Proven strategies for weaker or under-confident students will be suggested, along with ways of developing compositional skills across A Level with the aim of encouraging a love of composition, while at the same time maximising potential to access the best possible marks. The final sessions focus in detail on ways of making a composition outstanding, final presentations, communicating to the examiner, exploring immediate and practical suggestions for composition planning, final steps for more completed compositions, including ways of achieving idiomatic writing, and alternative ideas for creating good recordings. Three outstanding composition examples will then be discussed.


  • Take away proven strategies, approaches and monitoring processes for composition at A Level
  • Find out more about assessment criteria and what students ultimately have to demonstrate to an examiner for GCSE and A Level
  • Gain new techniques, approaches and strategies for composition briefs
  • Take away strategies for the weaker of under-confident composition student
  • Take away strategies to support students taking A level without having taken GCSE
  • Questions, questions and more questions – getting students thinking
  • Find out more about how to maximise feedback value
  • Take away top practical advice on making a composition outstanding

Overview of section C and what is needed to succeed

10.00 – 10.30am
  • A consideration of the examiner’s reports on previous exams – what are the challenges to students in this section of the exam? How do they underperform?
  • Understanding the mark scheme – what does it tell us about the key skills students need to demonstrate in their essay writing?
  • Detailed examination of the requirements of this section of the exam – the assessment objectives, and how we can use these to guide students
  • Looking at the section C essay in the context of the whole paper – strategies students can use to maximise their marks

The challenge of extended writing – how to develop key skills

10.30 – 11.15am
  • What constitutes a top band essay? Considering the key features of student essay responses
  • The key ‘command’ words used in essays – using these to guide our programme of study
  • Structuring an effective written response – guiding our students towards a logical and coherent response
  • The importance of analytical detail in gaining top band marks – building student confidence in vocabulary
  • The importance of wider context in enriching student understanding of the different areas of study


11.15 – 11.30am

Planning an effective programme of study for the optional areas

11.30 – 12.30pm
  • Examining the wider context of each area – what are the main issues that students need to get to grips with
  • What are the ‘key themes’ to consider in each area of study, and how can this guide us in building a scheme of work for each area?
  • Selecting repertoire – how much repertoire is necessary? Strategies for selecting repertoire to maximise student success
  • Approaches to teaching the optional areas of study – building student confidence through different teaching methods


12.30 – 1.30pm

Engaging with the question – how to build effective responses

1.30 – 2.30pm
  • Considering the different types of question that are typical for each area of study – using these to create a scheme of work
  • Deconstructing essay questions – breaking the task down and considering the key skills students need to succeed
  • Writing about music analytically – building technical vocabulary and applying it to chosen works
  • Guiding students in preparing repertoire and examples to support particular questions and arguments

Afternoon break

2.30 – 2.45pm

Preparing students for exam success

2.45 – 3.30pm
  • Considering top band essays – examples and discussion
  • Planning effective revision sessions and exploring revision techniques
  • Reviewing the common question types in the section C essay
  • Practising essay writing – techniques and strategies




London | Tuesday 15 November 2022

Please select your preferred date

This course, tailored to suit, can be delivered in your school. Discuss this further with our CPD team on 01625 532974 or click below to make an enquiry.


Alex Aitkin


  • Head of Music
  • Teachers of Music, both new and experience


  • A Specially prepared notes, practical advice and guidance by the course leader
  • Notes prepared by the educational experts leading the course
  • Expert produced PowerPoint presentations
  • CPD Certificate of attendance

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