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Year 11 Transition to A level Music

Welcome to the King Ed’s music website. I look forward to seeing all you year 11s in September. Usually we set a few tasks at induction day for the summer break those, along with a few other things are on this page.

These tasks are very much OPTIONAL. You only need do some of them if you want to and feel it would be helpful. Please do not feel under any obligation to complete any of them.

If you have any questions please email tom.pankhurst@kedst.ac.uk

[Note for non-King Eds students. This is particularly focused on the Eduqas A level course but the tasks are of more general use]

If you are joining us in September, you might find the following documents useful:

Basic Theory

When we start the A level course we begin with a module called Starting Points in which we review basic theory through some simple composition tasks. We will go over keys, triads, dissonance etc. but I do presume some basic knowledge. One option is to have a go at the free Open University Basic Theory (approx. grade 1-3) course, for which you can print out a certificate of completion.

A quicker alternative if you are a bit more confident is the following page on which you should make yourself familiar with the topics in the following sections:


  • The Basics – all sections
  • Rhythm and Metre – all sections
  • Scales and Key Signatures – all sections
  • Intervals – all sections
  • The first two lessons from Chords, Diatonic Chords and the first from Chord Progressions would be a bonus

Music History

Read through and listen to the material on the Short History of Music pages and then complete the worksheet below. You can either print it off and complete by hand or fill it in as a word documents and then print them off:

Listening and describing

As in GCSE we will need to get really good at describing music using appropriate technical terms.

I would like you to review all the terms in the GCSE Glossary, which should be familiar from GCSE. Make sure you understand them, follow all the links and listen to the examples before completing the two listening exercises.

Exercise 1 – Western Classical

Listen to this Beethoven String Quartet extract and answer the questions in the worksheet. You will need to print out the worksheet and then listen play the video so you can see to which parts of the music the questions refer. You can watch the video as many times as you wish and pause it where you need to do so. You should also refer back to the GCSE Glossary to make sure you are talking about the right things and using correct language.

Exercise 2 – Musical Theatre

Listen to this Extract from Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods and answer the questions in the worksheet. Print out the worksheet single sided. You can listen as many times as you like. Some of the short questions are easy and some are pretty hard. Just do your best!

Last Midnight from Sondheim’s Into the Woods


Make sure you don’t neglect your playing during this break. If you are having online lessons with your teacher, then that will obviously keep you going. If you are not, I suggest you do at least some of the tasks below to keep yourself in practice.

  • polish up a piece you are already working on and video it. You could then share it with your friends and family. In due course, I will ask you to email me a video of you playing a short extract. If you want to get ahead of the game send it to me at tom.pankhurst@kedst.ac.uk. You might find a recorded accompaniment on Youtube for pieces that are very regularly played for grades etc.
  • resurrect an older piece that you really enjoyed. You will be able to play it better now you are a bit more advanced. Listen to some performances of the piece on Apple Music/Spotify/Youtube. What do you like about these performances? Is there anything you can incorporate. Again, you could video your performance.
  • look at the graded lists for the level at which you are currently playing. Listen to the pieces and choose one to learn from scratch. You can use recorded performances to help you learn the piece and decide how to play it.

Extension Tasks

If you are looking for other things to keep you busy, pick a selection from the following tasks.


  • Sion, Colborne, Gardiner, Pankhurst et al (2017) Eduqas AS and A Level Music Study Guide, London: Rhinegold (Amazon link) [covers the background information needed for the course – useful but not essential to read before the A level starts]
  • Winterson and Harris (2014) Music Theory: The Essential Guide London: Faber (Amazon link) [ if your basic theory is a bit ropy then this is good for making sure you know up to Grade 5 theory stuff]

Stuff to watch on Youtube

Composition 1

Can you write an eight-bar melody in the Classical style that is like the extract below. Either write it for string quartet in Noteflight, Musescore or on paper or write it for a melody instrument with piano chords. Notice that the harmony is quite simple, the melody sticks closely to the chords with just simple decorations, bar 3-4 and 7-8 are cadences. You can look at the notes here if you want some technical tips:

Period Haydn op64n5iv

Composition 2

Can you write a pentatonic piece using the notes here (including a video) to help you if you wish. Write for any combination of instruments.

Research Tasks

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