Why Study Music?

As Plato once said, “Music is a moral law. It gives a soul to the universe, winds to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. It is the essence of order, and leads to all that is good, just and beautiful, of which it is the invisible, but nevertheless dazzling, passionate, and eternal form.”


Music is a rigorous subject developing skills in instrumental/vocal performance, composition and musical analysis. Listening to a wide range of Music from Baroque to Rock and Pop, with optional areas of Music Theatre, Jazz, Folk and Film, students develop analytical skills enabling them to write about each of these with authority and confidence. Students dig deep around familiar areas of interest and will be introduced to new styles and techniques as they develop skills in analysis, evaluation and synthesis. Alongside academic study, students work towards an ambitious programme of coursework, for which they receive bespoke and structured coaching at every stage. Students are free to compose in the style of their choosing and put together their own performance programme with guidance from staff. Students are required to work independently and with purpose between lessons, with opportunities to collaborate creatively in a variety of musical and artist domains outside of the academic course.



F Block Music Curriculum

Pupils that opt for Music in the F block receive 5 lessons per fortnight. The F block Music curriculum explores Music through three strands that work in creative synergy:

- Music Appreciation and Listening Skills

- Music Technology

- Music Theory

In small groups, pupils broaden their understanding of Music exploring ways that allow them to understand and explain musical techniques, devices and practices, whilst also empowering them to express themselves with greater understanding. 

A typical week might include a lesson on each of the following:

- Music Appreciation - contextualising Jazz Music in American history - listening to a range of prominent musicians and sub-styles, listening for stylistic forms and devices

- Music Tech - learning how to quantize and add reverb to a track in a remix they are developing in Logic

- Music Theory - working on aurally identification and naming of musical intervals


GCSE Music

Musicians that play an instrument to at least Grade III standard can chose GCSE Music as an option in the E block. They must continue instrumental/vocal lessons alongside this course, so that they can fulfil the requirements of the performance coursework.

Pupils follow the CIE IGCSE 0978 Music qualification.

The course consists of 3 strands:


  • Aural awareness and perception in relation to Western music (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, 20th Century and Jazz)
  • Identifying and analysing music from different cultures and countries
  • In-depth study of one classical set work and one world area
  • Requirement to be able to understand and use standard music notation
  • Assessed through a listening / written exam (40%)


  • Technical and expressive competence on an instrument/voice or instruments
  • Assessed through a solo performance and an ensemble performance (30%)


  • To create two compositions in two different styles, fully notated, presented using notation software (Sibelius) (30%)

A level Music

Pupils follow the AQA 7272 Music qualification.

The course consists of 3 strands:

Written/Listening Exam 40%

Pupils learn about the following areas of Study:

Baroque Concerti

Operas of Mozart

Romantic Piano Music

Music Theatre*


* These are optional areas of study. Depending on pupil interest, we may offer Pop Music or Music for Film/Media.

Assessment is through an exam requiring students to analyse music from the set areas through short, medium and long (essay) responses. Each candidate has an individual CD and can listen to each question as many times as they like.


Performance Coursework 35%


Students submit a recorded portfolio of performances of 10+ minutes duration. To access the highest marks, the equivalent grade must be Grade VII-VIII. Students can perform on one or more instruments, as a soloist or in an ensemble. Or a mixture of all or some of these. 


Composition Coursework 25%


Students submit a stylistic exercise (Bach chorale) and a free composition in a style of their choosing. All compositions are notated using notation software. 



For those applying to Rugby there are music scholarships available. Scholarships are offered at the following stages with the minimum standard normally expected as:

  • 11+ entry - at least Grade IV standard in the main instrument
  • 13+ entry - at least Grade VI standard in the main instrument
  • 16 + entry - at least Grade VIII standard in the main instrument

Anyone interested in applying for a music award at Rugby is strongly recommended to arrange an informal pre-audition with Director of Music, Richard Tanner, up to two or three years before entry. Please click here to access the Music Scholarships page and download the brochures below for more information. Music is also featured under our Boarding School Life section here.

Useful Resources

Music Scholarship Leaflet