Teacher perceptions of A-level music: tension, dilemmas, and decline

Whittaker, Adam (2021) Teacher perceptions of A-level music: tension, dilemmas, and decline. British Journal of Music Education. ISSN 0265-0517

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A-level music, a qualification taken most often in English and Welsh school contexts around the age of 18, has been a long standing feature of the musical training of many musicians. Historically bound up with Western European Art Music, the qualification has somewhat broadened its horizons in recent times, though with mixed success in opening up new ways of thinking about music. Recent research has highlighted the seemingly precarious nature of A-level music in many English schools (Bath, Daubney, Mackrill, & Spruce, 2020). The reasons for this picture of decline are highly complex and difficult to disentangle, and are part of a much broader diminishing of creative subjects in the school curriculum. Decreasing number of A-level music entries run somewhat counter to popular policy discourse which celebrates flagship announcements of £79 million given to Music Education Hubs (in 2019-2020) each year, and 2018 survey results that reported more than 700,000 children learning to play a musical instrument each year through music hub provision. However, behind these headlines, although there are many children having the opportunity to learn a musical instrument, few continue through to A-level and beyond. Despite its declining numbers, A-level music is recognised as a valuable qualification amongst music teachers, offering something distinct from graded music examinations and other Level 3 musical qualifications. This article presents the results of a recent nationwide survey of A-level music teachers to offer an insight into teacher perceptions of current A-level music specifications, the extent to which it prepares students for entry into higher musical education, and its appropriateness for aspiring young musicians.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0265051720000352
20 October 2020Accepted
14 January 2021Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: A-level music; 16-18 music; music qualifications; Key Stage 5 music; music examinations
Subjects: CAH25 - design, and creative and performing arts > CAH25-02 - performing arts > CAH25-02-02 - music
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
Depositing User: Adam Whittaker
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2020 13:19
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2022 15:59
URI: https://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/10214

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