Following on from the first examination in Summer 2018, this course looks at some of the issues faced by the students, particularly in regard to the issue of coping with unfamiliar music (Question 8 and 9) and wider listening in the examination room and the top two levels of cognitive operation now found in Question 9 (the essay question), namely analysis and evaluation.

The chosen set works will be placed into interesting context, with suggestions for wider listening and links through to ideas for relevant areas of study in the composition component. The day will conclude by considering how to plan the delivery of the appraising component across a two-year programme and put suggested ideas into practice.


  • ‘Inside–out’ knowledge of six set works, with suggested ways in to exploring the remaining two works on the specification
  • Resources to support structural analysis of those works
  • New tactics for teaching analysis to learners at this level
  • Ways of connecting theory to practice and making listening and analysis come alive, increasing retention of knowledge and eventual exam success
  • Suggestions for connections to composing briefs and integrating the appraising and composing components
  • Improvisation techniques to help activate knowledge of different musical styles
  • Scheme of work, collectively devised, for a two-year delivery of the Appraising component
COURSE DATES London Monday 26 November 2018
London Monday 18 February 2019
  • Music teachers of all levels of experience, from NQTs to Heads of Department
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 – 10.20am: The key messages from the 2018 Set Works Examination

  • Feedback from 2018 – what key issues and successes did the examiners raise and how can we integrate these into our teaching?
  • Considering the two Assessment Objectives (AO3 and 4), and the links of these to analysis skills. What exactly are the students being assessed on? Where do the students struggle? How can we support their learning?

10.20 – 11.00am: Making listening and analysis engaging

  • How to excite learners in the process of exploring music
  • Discussion on typical challenges to this component and how to overcome them
  • Principles of teaching analysis and activating knowledge
  • Refreshing the use of appropriate terminology
  • How to write a good, balanced essay (Question 9)

11.00 – 11.15am: Discussion: coffee break


11.15 – 11.55am: Analysing Beethoven piano sonata in C minor, ‘Pathéthique’

  • Placing Beethoven in context with wider listening
  • Ways of teaching sonata form
  • Detailed analysis of key features, including form and harmonic language
  • Tactics for helping students grasp large structure
  • Creative responses to narrative of the sonata
  • Links to composing brief

11.55 – 12.40pm: Analysing the Main Title from ‘Star Wars’ by John Williams

  • Film music as a genre and useful wider listening/viewing
  • In-depth analysis of key features, including orchestration, timbre and harmony
  • What makes the music so effective?
  • Creative responses to the score
  • Links to composing brief

12.40 – 1.20pm: Lunch and informal discussion


1.20 – 2.15pm: Analysing ‘Samba Em Preludio’ and Purcell’s ‘Music for a While’

  • Connecting the dots between vocal styles of different eras
  • Exploring Latin music and its grooves
  • The Ground Bass aria and jazz
  • Detailed analysis of harmonic choices and text-setting in both songs
  • Creative responses and links to composing brief

2.15 – 2.30pm: Discussion: afternoon tea


2.30 – 3.20pm: Analysing ‘Killer Queen’ and ‘Defying Gravity’’

  • Comparing vocal styles and defining genres
  • Setting context and wider listening
  • In-depth analysis of form and features of each song
  • Creative responses and band workshop ideas

3.20 – 4.00pm: Brief overview of remaining works (Bach and Afro Celt)

  • Summary of key techniques and considerations in delivering this component

John Arkell

John has taught music in several independent schools and is currently Head of Academic Music and Organist at Oundle School. John holds fellowship diplomas in organ performance from the Royal College of Organists, Trinity College London and the London College of Music. In 2000, John was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and in 2009 he received a Fellowship of the Guild of Musicians and Singers for his work in choral music.On sabbatical from Oundle School in 2006, John was appointed Fellow Commoner at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. As an academic musician, John is a former Chief Examiner for Edexcel Music GCSE and a Principal Examiner for A Level. Over the years he has written a number of books on music; his latest textbook for the 2017 GCSE course was published by Pearson in 2016. John has been the Musical Director of the Oundle and District Choral Society since 2003.

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