This course is designed for all teachers of A level Music, including those who have recently moved from GCSE to A level Music teaching. The course will explore a range of teaching approaches, techniques and strategies to improve attainment for successful outcomes in Listening and Appraising.

You will explore a range of teaching methods that emphasise the connections between listening, analysis and harmony work; allowing students to develop both the skills and knowledge required to respond successfully to exam questions on musical style, prescribed works and wider repertoire. Resources, alongside practical work on the day, will help you to quickly and effectively incorporate these methods into your own teaching.


  • A focus on teaching methods and revision techniques that will help students to achieve grades A & A* at A Level
  • A detailed look at the differing demands of the coursework components, and at the common question types in the appraising papers
  • Sample answers by A*/A grade students will be discussed and marked
  • Take away resources that promote high-level skills in innovative and student-friendly ways, and push the highest ability students
COURSE DATES London Monday 04 March 2019
London Monday 24 June 2019
  • All teachers of A-Level Music
  • Heads of Music
IN-SCHOOL You can also book this as an In-School Course
  • A specially prepared folder of 50+ pages full of detailed notes, practical advice and guidance
  • Notes prepared by the educational experts leading the course
  • Expert produced PowerPoint presentations
  • CPD Certificate of attendance
  • Two course restaurant lunch
  • Refreshments throughout the day
  • Guaranteed high quality venues


10.00 – 10.25am
Grades A & A*: what do they involve?

  • Reviewing the skills required to achieve an A or A* grade in the new A Level specifications
  • Feedback and grading analysis from the 2018 papers: What does this tells us about the standards that our top students are expected to meet?
  • Grades A & A*: what are the differences between these?
  • Key attributes of Grade A & A* students in the classroom

10.25 – 11.10am
Preparing for an A*/A Performance

  • What makes an A*/ A performance at A Level?
  • Avoiding potential hazards: what can cost an able student their A grade in the performance component?
  • Analysis of mark schemes – what are the examiners listening for?
  • Exploring performance in the classroom to prepare for success: both on and off instrument

11.10 – 11.30am
Discussion: coffee break

11.30 – 12.30pm
Teaching Appraising: Developing the advanced listening skills expected of able students in the appraising exam

  • Analysing listening questions: where is an A/A* achieved or lost?
  • Building vocabulary and developing skills for short answer responses
  • Tackling harmonic analysis: developing the aural skills needed to identify more complex progressions and chromatic chords
  • Stretching able students with your choice of wider listening
  • Teaching and learning ideas to ensure top level students succeed in the listening questions

12.30 – 1.30pm
Lunch and informal discussion

1.30 – 2.15pm
Teaching Appraising: stretching and challenging able students

  • Moving on from GCSE approaches: using wider listening to prepare for and complement prescribed works
  • Different approaches to teaching prescribed works that reinforce high-level concepts
  • Using wider listening to stretch able students
  • Reviewing common essay questions at A Level. What are examiners looking for in A/A* responses?
  • Working to the A*/A standard: reviewing and marking specimen answers

2.15 – 2.45pm
Appraising exams: tactics for achieving the highest grades

  • The shorter questions: the potential pitfalls and how to avoid them
  • Revision ideas to help able students prepare for questions on the prescribed works
  • Maximising marks in essay responses
  • Focus on wider listening questions and essays: what does a grade A/A* candidate need to do?

2.45 – 2.50pm
Discussion: afternoon tea

2.50 – 3.40pm
Teaching Composition and Compositional Techniques: key challenges for Grade A/A* students

  • Reviewing mark schemes and examiner feedback: what are our top students expected to demonstrate?
  • Teaching inspiring harmony lessons that provide opportunities to stretch your top students
  • What makes an A*/A Bach chorale harmonisation?
  • Reviewing and marking specimen examples

Andrew Williams

Andrew is currently Head of Aural and Musicianship at the RCM Junior Department, and he teaches Academic Music at the Purcell School. Previously Head of Music at a high-performing grammar school, Andrew has significant experience in preparing academically and musically gifted students for GCSE and A Level Music.

View all courses led by Andrew Williams >