A-Level Revision

2 hours left with Year 13 before study leave!

My brain seems to be working in over-drive…music teachers you understand right. We move from rehearsal to classroom to marking to rehearsal to home – and then do it all again the next day. And we love it don’t we…anyway, what was I saying, oh yeah, my brain.

I often read comments on the facebook groups and then I start thinking, and keep thinking, and then I write one of these. So, you have 2 hours left with Year 13, what should you do. Here are my Top Ten things to do with those 2 hours:

  1. Get them to give you their line of argument for every single piece so that you know that they have that in their mind before the exam.
  2. Take a vote on 2 pieces that they feel they understand the least and use them to unpack the elements of music and also reinforce their understanding of those pieces.
  3. Create a timeline of the set works and then discuss how music has changed over time. Stick on some piece of music from different eras as you do this and get them to discuss what they hear. This will help them to prepare for the Edexcel Question 5 where they will have an unfamiliar piece to listen to.
  4. Go over some key theory for the exam – Melodic, Harmonic & Rhythmic devices are always good to discuss and confirm understanding. Students also sometimes confuse describing melody, texture and rhythm. Melody needs to discuss the intervals, pitches and patterns. Rhythm is about note values and time, and texture is about layers and what they are doing – more than just a one word description like Homophonic.
  5. Play some pieces to them and focus on them picking out key features that are to do with the music and key features that are linked to the genre.
  6. Photocopy a random page from the Anthology or Set Works and get them to write as much as they can about that set work, bringing up points about the whole range of musical elements.
  7. Talk through the exam and the technique for the exam. It will be different for each board, but it is important that they know what they are doing with timings. Edexcel is great because they can control the CD, but only great if they have good time management skills.
  8. Avoid any tasks that aren’t teacher led and that don’t involved your input. At this stage they need to be taught and they need to hear from you. You don’t need fancy ideas and whizzy powerpoint – I never use powerpoint but that is an aside. What they want is to be able to answer questions and leave feeling like they have gained understanding.
  9. You could write a model essay answer because the lesson and go through the structure and the content with them.
  10. A “Walking/Talking Mock” is also a good one where you literally go through a whole paper and chat through the potential answers
  11. Am I allowed one more! I get them to think about mental multiple choice. What I mean by this is I ask them to list all the possible answers for a question. If it asks about cadences, what are the options that they might use. If the question mentions harmonic devices, what might they answer with. It is good for them to have a mental multiple choice list in their heads when sitting the exam.

I guess at this stage you have done all the hard work and they need to be revising. Give them confidence and give them ideas for how they can revise. Don’t panic them and put in loads of energy. Get up from your desk and have Apple Music or Spotify open and ready so that you can play lots of music. Sit at the piano and play examples if you can and just keep the whole thing positive. Send them out with the belief that they are ready for the exam and armed with the tools to tackle the revision. Every board is different and I use Edexcel, but giving board specific advice regarding the exam is really important.

So there we are, my 11, not 10, ideas for those final two hours with Year 13. Enjoy them, you might even miss Year 13 when they go, I know I will. I just hope I have done enough and that they do enough, I am sure they will!

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