Music Technology (A Level)
Why should I study A Level Music Technology?
Music Technology is a course that enables students to learn the art of recording, from setting up microphones to mixing and mastering music - using advanced software. Composing using technology, developing production skills and improving aural skills are also key elements of the course. This course significantly benefits students studying music, diversifying their skills, increasing employability in the music industry and providing additional pathways for the future, as music technology is a growing industry.
The Sixth Form College Colchester is one of the few centres in the region that has the resources and teaching staff to run the well-respected A Level Music Technology course. The College houses three recording studios and two specialised music technology classrooms, all with music keyboards and the latest version of the professional software: Ableton Live Suite. In addition to this, the College has five practice rooms and a performance venue. In terms of equipment, the College has a varied set of microphones, including both condenser and dynamic transducer types, mixing desks, audio interfaces, synthesisers, samplers and many other pieces of equipment needed for professional recording. Furthermore, the national revision guide for the subject is written by the Course Leader for Music Technology at the College.
The Music Technology course is connected with the college record label, Storm Records, which signs College artists and helps promote and release their music. The course is also connected with Storm Radio, where students’ music is aired live.
The College has a reputation for developing artists who have success in the industry, such as Jordan Cardy (Rat Boy) and Jamie Lidell. Many current students are having success at the start of their careers as signed Storm Records artists, including Tom Willingham and Joy Bakare.
Students can combine the study of A Level Music Technology with A Level Music and this is a desirable combination.
The first year of the course consists of four components:
Recording (20%) – students will plan, set-up, record, mix and master a 3 minute song.
Technology-based Composition (20%) – students will compose music on Ableton, exploring synthesis, sampling and manipulation techniques.
Listening and Analysing Exam (25%) – students will listen to popular music and answer questions on production techniques.
Producing and Analysing Exam (35%) – students will be given audio files, in which they will follow instructions in order to mix and master a song.
In addition to the A Level course, students can progress onto a related Extended Project Qualification in Music Technology, where they are given the freedom to research and create a product (album, performance, instrument design etc.) in an area that the student wants to specialise in.
Progression onto Year 2
Progression to the second year of this A Level course will be dependent on having made satisfactory progress in the first year of the course, including achieving at least an E grade in a formal late spring assessment, as well as the maintenance of a good level of attendance and commitment throughout the year.
Final Assessment at end of Year 2
You will sit two exams at the end of the second year which will cover all the content from both years of the course and will count towards 60% of the grade.
You will also complete two coursework projects (Recording and Composing), forming the other 40% of the grade at A Level.
Minimum Entry Criteria
Standard College Entry Requirements (as detailed on page 12 of the Prospectus) and one of two Pathways onto the Course:
Grade 5 in Music Theory, or clear ability to read music notation fluently (this will be tested during Induction)
Some experience in Music, either as a Music GCSE (grade 4 or above), or a Merit in a BTEC/Level 2 Music Course, or as a hobby/interest
Students are asked to pay for session musicians to ensure that the recording is to the highest possible standard, which is at a subsidised price of £20. This payment will allow the student to have access to a drummer, bassist, electric and acoustic guitarist, a keyboard player and a vocalist.
Students are encouraged to purchase the revision guide: A Level Music Technology Guide: New Specification from 2017. All other resources will be provided.
Pathway 1 and 2 groups will be separated to allow for classes to contain students with similar experiences and skills.
What can I do after studying A Level Music Technology?
As well as studying music technology at university, or studying music technology within a music degree, there are many employment opportunities that are available with this qualification, especially since the music industry in the UK is the largest in the world per population. Careers include: producing music, working as an audio engineer, working in live sound and broadcasting on radio and over media. The film industry is a large area for music technology students, with roles in sound design, soundtrack creation, foley artist work, special effects and dubbing. Other related areas are education, music journalism, music distribution and music promotion. As well as this, the course offers skills which are transferable to other sectors of employment.