Delivering the new specification for A Level

I have been teaching the new Edexcel specification and my colleagues and I have enjoyed getting to know the anthology. There is a return to a meatier anthology, including some meatier works (great to see the Rite of Spring!). Without the Year 12 exam there is now an opportunity to make profitable use of the summer term free of the demands of preparing for an AS exam. We have been embracing this opportunity by ensuring we develop students’ confidence to talk and write about unfamiliar music and how to enrich the set works with wider listening. We have also been spending more time on class discussions, asking students to prepare presentations on wider listening and to spend more time on how to structure written responses. We are now too focusing on composition work with live musicians, and every student last year had their compositions performed in a concert – which went down really well with students and audience alike. With the two year journey in mind we decided to work on harmony skills from the outset (the new Rhinegold Harmony book is useful for this) and spent the first two weeks consolidating some of the basics, and working on keyboard harmony too.

There is a good amount of content to cover in the Edexcel specification and we mapped out the set works between two teachers, and how many set works to cover each half-term. It was important to set a target for the number of set works to cover in Year 12, as there can be a risk of not covering enough whilst we enjoyed the additional time no AS exam afforded us. We wanted to make Year 12 a busy one for the students: it needs a strong start, as with all the concerts we put on and the various obstacles of usual school life it can be easy to get behind.

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