This course is designed for all teachers of A level Music looking to raise student attainment levels in the Listening and Appraising examinations. The course, for teachers of all examination boards, provides a range of teaching approaches, techniques and strategies to improve attainment for successful outcomes across the student ability range.

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.


  • Discover new teaching methods that will support student progress in listening, analysis and harmony
  • Develop strategies to improve student attainment and confidence in appraising papers
  • Learn new methods to support weaker students and to stretch the more able
  • Discover creative ways to incorporate wider repertoire into your Scheme of Work.
  • Explore teaching and learning ideas that help students to hear, understand and identify musical events
  • Take away resources that you can use in your own teaching
DATE & LOCATION Online | Monday 14 June 2021
  • Heads of Music
  • Teachers of A Level Music
  • Teachers of Post-16 Music courses
  • Teachers teaching A Level or Pre-U Music for the first time
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


10.00 – 10.30am
The Listening and Appraising Component – Reflections and Approaches

  • Examiner feedback from 2019 – key considerations for 2020
  • Reviewing the skills that students need to demonstrate in the appraising exam.
  • How to engage students in the content of the course, and how to maximise focus on what brings the most reward in examinations
  • Discussion of effective ways to demonstrate links between listening, harmony, composition and performance

10.30 – 11.10pm
Identifying and Analysing Musical Style and Applying Technical Vocabulary Appropriately

  • Practical strategies that promote a musical understanding of the key terms
  • How to help students accurately describe musical features in unfamiliar pieces
  • Analysing musical styles – in-depth approaches to help students identify the core styles and stylistic features
  • Resources that promote effective engagement with a range of musical styles, and provide opportunities to practise exam technique

11.10 – 11.30am
Discussion: coffee break

11.30 – 12.15pm
Describing Harmonic Progressions, Describing the Impact of Harmonic Progressions

  • Exploring longer-term teaching strategies that provide an understanding of harmonic function
  • Approaches that help students to identify more complex progressions in the prescribed works.
  • How to help students recognise chromatic chords, and to describe their impact
  • Describing harmonic progressions – methods and techniques to support and stretch students of all abilities

12.10 – 12.45pm
Making Context Meaningful and Applying Contextual Knowledge Appropriately

  • Reviewing how contextual knowledge is assessed – what do students need to know?
  • How to help students apply their contextual knowledge appropriately to secure high marks
  • Strategies that help students to apply their knowledge of historical events, venues, occasions and society to both familiar and unfamiliar works

12.45 – 1.45pm
Lunch and informal discussion

1.45 – 2.30pm
Preparing for Success in the Shorter Listening and Analysis Questions

  • Developing higher-level listening skills
  • How to prepare students for the A Level dictation questions
  • The short response questions – the difficulties and how to overcome them
  • How to help students accurately apply technical vocabulary – practical approaches
  • The challenging questions – texture, harmony, methods and approaches to help students
  • Reviewing the question types – how to help students apply their knowledge effectively

2.30 – 3.10pm
Writing Strong Essay Responses: Prescribed Works and Unfamiliar Pieces

  • What makes a strong A Level set works essay response? How can we build up to this?
  • Teaching ideas to develop good essay writing, and to raise achievement levels
  • What are the key challenges that let students down, and what teaching methods best hep students
  • Developing A/A* grade essays – examples and discussion

3.10 – 3.15pm
Discussion: afternoon tea

3.15 – 3.40pm
Preparing for the Exam

  • Reviewing the common question types in appraising papers
  • Planning effective revision sessions and exploring revision techniques
  • Practising long response and comparison questions
  • Referring effectively to wider repertoire in appraising exams

Andrew Williams

Andrew Williams is currently Head of Aural and Musicianship at the RCM Junior Department, and teaches at the Purcell School, where he works with all 80 A level music students, teaching harmony, listening and analysis. Each year, his students achieve some of the highest grades in the country and go on to study Music at both conservatoires and universities.

View all courses led by Andrew Williams >