Keynote Educational


AQA A Level Music Section C Essay Questions: Achieving Grades A/A*

Course Code:


This course is designed for all teachers of the AQA specification who want to raise their student’s attainment in the section C essay. It will focus on how to create an effective essay and how to guide students in approaching extended writing. You will consider the typical types of question students will be faced with and explore how these can help you as a teacher to plan a programme of student and select the most useful and effective repertoire. Each of the optional areas of study will be considered, and you will explore the key themes and issues of each, using these to guide students in their programme of study. Essay writing skills will be explored, and you will consider marked student examples to see what constitutes each mark band. Applying these, and considering examiner’s reports, you will gain strategies on how best to prepare your students for this area of the exam.


  • Gain confidence in selecting repertoire for each of the optional areas of study
  • Have a chance to explore the different types of question in this section, and use these to build schemes of work
  • Consider and evaluate different levels of student responses, gaining confidence in applying the mark scheme
  • Consider different approaches to teaching the optional areas of study
  • Find out how students can maximise their marks in essay writing
  • Take away a pack of resources to help with planning optional areas of study teaching

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 | Thursday 23 June 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.


Sarah Murphy is currently a teacher of academic music at Chetham’s School of Music, where she works with A level students teaching harmony, composition and analysis. She is also responsible for preparing A level students for Oxbridge interviews and for higher level study in the form of the AMusTCL examination. In addition to her Chetham’s teaching, Sarah also works with students in the Junior department at the RNCM and has designed a pre-sessional musicology programme for overseas undergraduates and postgraduates there. She also teaches piano and analysis on the Chetham’s International Summer School for Pianists and has also led teacher training sessions in theory and harmony as part of this.


  • Teachers of the AQA specification at Music A level
  • Heads of Music
  • Heads of Performing Arts


  • 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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