Teaching and resources for AMusTCL

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Mediant Studies


Candidates have to answer five questions.  Of these, at least one must be taken from section A (arrangement and composition) and at least one from section B (set works).  The course covers all questions from section A and one from section B (2019-2020: the Mozart Serenade, Gran Partita;  2021-2022: Bartok, Concerto for Orchestra).  There are however two options in the question in section B:  either to answer analytical questions about the score or to write an essay about the work.  The course covers both.

You learn about the development of instruments and how composers have written for them (e.g. styles of orchestration of various periods and composers). You learn how to read and analyse scores, from short pieces for piano or voices to works for large groups, such as symphonies.  There are options for learning how to write and arrange music in the styles of different periods, for various forces (including piano, choir, and orchestra), using a range of chords (diatonic and chromatic), and producing effective melodies, with a range of notes of melodic decoration - such as suspensions and appoggiaturas  (Writing non-diatonic melodies is covered in the Grade 6 Course and in the section about Non-Diatonic Melodies in the AMusTCL course.  If you need help with using techniques like sequence and isorhythm to write melodies and are not taking the Non-Diatonic Melodies question, you should order the Writing Melodies section of the Grade 6 Course) You must study one work from a music score.  In order to understand styles common in different periods - and to write music in those styles - you gain a wide general knowledge of musical history, structure and style.  You study samples of music in various styles, so you gain a better understanding of them.  Yoou are also given help in finding, analysing and presenting material in such a way as to answer questions likely to be asked in the examination.

If you are not sure whether you are ready to take the AMusTCL course, download a survey which you can study as a doc, docx or pdf file.  If you are still uncertain, you can fill in the answers, email the file to me, and ask for advice.

Please note that candidates who gain high marks in section B will be able to compare the set work with other works by the same composer, or in the same genre, or by different composers. As a result, the course includes a wide general introduction to music of different periods and styles, with musical examples, and suggestions of music to listen to which is available on the internet. 

The course is spread over four modules. 

  1. Score Analysis (reading, understanding and describing scores, including their harmonies)

  2. Musical Knowledge (history, structure and style)

  3. Composition  (All options in Section A of the examination are covered.)

  4. Set Works (Background knowledge and skills needed for studying the work are included in the Score Analysis and Musical Knowledge module, although notes about the work itself, and scores of related works, are in this module.) *  The following are now available:

2019-2020:  Mozart Serenade for 13 Wind Instruments (Gran Partita) *

2021-2022:  Bartok, Concerto for Orchestra.*

* For module 4, you must be able to listen to the work.  You must have your own score, with bar numbers written in, but otherwise unmarked.  You will take the score into the exam room. 

The Set Works module is of course aimed at the set work question in Section B.  However before tackling that question, you have to learn to read and describe scores.  The Score Analysis module helps you to do this.  The Musical Knowledge module gives you the basic knowledge in history, structure and style that you need to answer all these questions well.  It also helps you to write the sort of essay that Trinity College examiners are looking for.

AMusTCL is equivalent to a unit in the first year of a British university degree. Candidates wanting to sit the paper do not have to have any previous qualifications.   However you are advised not to take the course unless you have time to do the work, and a good background in theory, or you may find you need to sit the examination two or three times before passing it.  The course has been created on the understanding that students have reached grade 6 level.  If you have not passed a theory exam at grade 6 level or higher recently, you should be familiar with the following:

  • how to use traditional methods like sequence and inversion to develop melodic ideas.

  • how to structure a melody with cadences and a definite ending.

  • tonic triads in all major and minor keys

  • diatonic intervals (e.g. major sixth) and chromatic intervals (e.g. augmented second)

  • Roman numeral chord notation (e.g. IV;  iib or ii6;  viiš)

  • diatonic chords (e.g. I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, viiš in a major key) in root position and inversions

  • supertonic and dominant sevenths (ii7 and V7) in root position and inversions

  • how to harmonise (choose chords for) a melody effectively, using the chords above

  • notes of melodic decoration, including passing notes, auxiliary notes and anticipations

  • vocal scores for SATB in closed score (two staves) and open score (four staves)

  • how to read instrumental (including orchestral) scores

  • how to write music for transposing instruments at concert (sounding) pitch.

  • instrumental techniques (such as double-stopping, muting and pizzicato)

  • terms, signs and ornaments used in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries

  • chordal and contrapuntal textures, pedal notes and tremolos

  • how to identify features that cause a change of mood in a passage of music

There is a survey which you can download from this page to check whether you have the knowledge and skills needed to take the course, and there are surveys on the webpages about both Score Analysis and Musical Knowledge which you can do to check whether you need to take those modules.

If you want to enrol for the all or part of the course but are not familiar with any of these topics, you should contact us to discuss whether you need to do any further study before taking the options you have chosen.  Alternatively, you can order worksheets on any or all of these topics, work through them on your own, and, if you wish, email them for comment.  Details are on the Grade 6 Outline page.


If you wish, before you take the exam, you can arrange to answer questions from sample or specific past examination papers and email them for comment.  The fee is $NZ35 per question, or $NZ130 for a complete paper.  You will be given detailed suggestions as to how you can improve your answers to gain

Modules can be taken one at a time, as long as they are taken in the order in which they are listed above, as later modules build on earlier ones.

If you wish, before you take the exam, you can arrange to answer questions from sample or specific past examination papers and email them for comment.  The fee is $NZ35 per question, or $NZ130 for a complete paper.  You will be given detailed suggestions as to how you can improve your answers to gain better marks.

Most students need to study an hour a day to finish the course in one year.

"If there's any improvement I’ve made recently in all aspects of AMusTCL, its because of your remarks. I'm glad that I am able to improve my understanding in many ways. All thanks to you Sir. I'm quite fortunate to have found you (even though a bit late). I'm also looking forward to start preparing for LTCL in Music composition under your guidance."  Mohit Kumar, Hyderabad, India, November 2014.

You may need more time if you have not passed a senior theory exam recently or have less than nine months to study.

You do not have to take the whole course at once:  you can complete one module at a time, as long as you do them in the order in which they are listed above. 

Prices depend on whether you want just to order files, to work through by yourself or with your own teacher, or to register to take a module or a whole course.  If you register for all or part of the course, you can ask questions about the files you are sent, work through the assignments, send the assignments in for comments, and if necessary ask questions about the comments.  You don't need to do both;  the resources are included in the price of registration.

Click here to order some or all files.
Click here to register for all or part of the course

Prices are listed in the files that you will download from these pages. 

Note these special offers:
ive modules can be taken as a course for a total of only $595.
The resources only for five modules can be ordered for a total of only $149.

These prices include four questions in Section A - the most you can answer in the exam.  If you would like to prepare for all five questions, there is an extra fee to pay.

In some cases you can arrange to "mix-and-match" - order a group of files, but send only some of them in for comment.
It is also possible to attempt questions from some past papers and send your answers in for comment.
See the Fees page for costs. 

You should check out the regulations before registering for all or part of the course.

Please contact us if you need any more information.

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