Analysing the Edexcel Music set works from the New Anthology of Music is one of my favourite parts of the A Level Music course. It’s always exciting to see pupils develop musical awareness as they explore a rich and diverse range of compositions.
However it’s always the part of the course (Unit 3/6) which I’ve considered to be the weakest area of my Post 16 teaching. As a result I have set the following targets with regards to approaching the set works analysis:
- Perform each set work
- Break each set work down into small & accessible chunks when analysing
Breaking the Set Works Down!
This has lead to developing a “Breaking Down” set of resources for use across the Key Stage 5 Edexcel Music syllabus. The aims of these resources are to break each set work down into smaller areas of focus areas, allowing all ranges and abilities of music students to access the music presented to them. Each small focus area then contains hints, key questions and clues relating to the score (where possible pupils can also perform these excerpts with instruments).
In addition I have produced small arrangements of each set work for the relevant instruments in each teaching group. This results in a range of interesting arrangements, such as the melody from Schumann’s Kinderscenen OP.15 No.1 performed on an alto saxophone or excerpts of Shostakovich’s String Quartet NO.8 in C Minor performed on marimba (click & have a listen). We’ve also had great fun preparing pianos & performing relevant world music, such as the fantastic “Se Quema la Chumbamba”.
Here are some other examples of performances of the set works by post 16 pupils (head to the resources page for scores):
Purcell – ‘Thy Hand Belinda’ and ‘When I am Laid in Earth’ from Dido and Aeneas
Haydn – String Quartet in Eb, Op.33 NO.2 ‘The Joke’ (Movement IV)
Corelli – Trio Sonata in D Op 3 No 2 (Movement IV)
Louis Armstrong – West End Blues
What are the benefits?
- Learners of all abilities can access a range of Music (even more complex set works)
- Skills of music analysis are developed in a fun, practical and inviting way
- Materials are differentiated for non music readers
- Learners are more confident structuring extended writing responses & comparing set work content
- Pupils have an enhanced understanding of the set work through performance
- Vital performance skills, relating to Unit 1/Unit 4 (edexcel), are developed
- It’s an awful lot of fun!
Of course this is no substitution for thorough & detailed close analysis of scores, but it’s a great way of making difficult Music accessible. The use of practical skills to learn theory also makes content more memorable.
In short performing the set works in this way & breaking the musical analysis makes the Unit 3/Unit 6 exam preparation more practical, more fun and helps secure knowledge in a highly effective way. It’s also hugely rewarding for both the teacher and pupils to be able to say “I performed Corelli today, next week we’re playing Louis Armstrong”.
To explore these Set Works Resources please follow the links below:
A Level Music:
Any feedback always welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org