This course is designed for all teachers of A level Music who wish to ensure the high achievement of their students in Composition.

The course, led by Bruce Cole and David Knotts will help teachers raise attainment in their students’ compositions, building on the feedback from the summer 2018 exam series and developing student skills, understanding and abilities in composision to be able to achieve well in summer 2019.

Although examples will be drawn from Edexcel, the course will be of benefit to teachers of all examination boards.


  • Gain expert feedback on the summer 2018 exam to impact on your teaching for 2019
  • Identify the key areas of strength and weakness for high achieving students
  • Gain expert advice from two leading A level Music Composition leads
  • Take away effective, successful approaches to improve composition skills with lower attaining students
  • Explore examples of compositions, to scrutinise Grades B and Grades A/A* to help students make progress, also Grades C to Grade B
  • Take away valuable guidelines on how to assess well and give effective feedback
COURSE DATE London Tuesday 18 June 2019
  • Heads of Performing Arts Departments
  • Heads of Music Departments
  • Teachers of A level Music
  • Teachers new to Edexcel A Level 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 – 10.50am
The key messages from the 2018 examinations

  • Feedback from 2018 – what key issues did examiners raise?
  • What does this tell us about the mid-range composition student?
  • Identifying the key areas of strength and weakness for high achieving composition students
  • What should composition teaching focus on?
  • How can students improve on working to a brief?
  • What do we take forward to 2019 exams?

10.50 – 11.10am
Discussion: coffee break

11.10 – 12.40pm
Improving Composition Skills with lower attaining students 

  • A close examination of the specification and assessment requirements to identify how to address weakness and ensure student progress
  • Lessons from the 2018 exams: strategies for students to improve their composition technique
  • Tackling the weaker composition – approaches, ideas, and practical strategies to improve D-C compositions
  • Drawing from examples, practical demonstrations on how to get students to progress, improve and develop the mid-range students’ skills to improve their composition writing
  • The no-notation students – how to improve their work

12.40 – 1.40pm
Lunch and informal discussion

1.40 – 3.00pm
Working with highly able students to ensure top Composition grades

  • Consideration of what high performing students did well in, in their compositions, and how to ensure that your students do the same in 2019
  • Ensuring high level students meet the Assessment Objective requirements and why these are crucial to your teaching
  • Examples of compositions, strategies and practical approaches to ensure that highly able students work to the highest standards and continue to make programme
  • Skills requirements: how to demonstrate high level skills
  • Working to a brief to bring out the highest skills levels

3.00 – 3.10pm
Discussion: afternoon tea

3.10 – 3.45pm
Monitoring and Assessing Progress; Appraising Work

  • Marking and giving good feedback on compositions to maintain student progress
  • Developing students’ understanding of mark schemes in relation to their composition work
  • Managing the compositional process

Dr. David Knotts

David studied at the Royal Academy of Music, King’s College Cambridge, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the University of Sussex. He has held teaching posts at Lady Margaret School in Fulham and the Yehudi Menuhin School and currently teaches at Canterbury Christchurch University and the Royal Academy of Music, where he teaches composition as well as delivering the LRAM teacher training programme. He is currently working with A level composition students in his role as composer in residence at City of London School for Girls.

David’s experience as a composer and educationalist is wide ranging: he has written music for many of the country’s leading orchestras, ensembles and instrumentalists and has developed composition projects for many of the country’s leading arts organisations.

David was made an honorary associate of the Royal Academy of Music in 2007 in recognition of his work in the fields of composition and education.

View all courses led by Dr David Knotts >

Bruce Cole

Bruce is Fellow in Community Music at the University of York, where he is responsible for programmes of student of work in schools and other community settings. He has also been external examiner and consultant in music education to institutions in the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Middle East, Japan and Africa.

A composer, who has worked in the music industry, concert hall, theatre and film and with the education departments of many orchestras, he has taught at most levels from preschool to postgraduate including teacher training, special education and prison education. He has held two residencies in London schools, authored and co–authored six books on school music and has eighteen years examining experience at a senior level.

View all courses led by Bruce Cole >