Music at Bedales Schools - Ethos

Music, for performers and listeners alike, is central to daily life in all three Bedales Schools. A long and distinguished tradition of fostering ambitions through the development of supportive friendships between staff and pupils has created happy, challenging and co-operative environments in our music departments.

Elite Musicians of all ages are given, where considered desirable, a bespoke timetable in which they can concentrate on honing their particular skills whilst also taking leading roles in the many instrumental and vocal ensembles which occupy protected space in the co-curriculum.

We offer a provenly successful route into higher musical studies at University or Music College or simply the necessary grounding for a lifetime’s love of playing and singing with friends and colleagues.

Dunannie nurtures the initial passion every child has for music. In Dunhurst, students soon discover that the more they practise, the more exciting ensemble opportunities become readily available to them. Orchestras, choirs, rock bands and chamber ensembles perform regularly in concerts and theatre productions.

Find out more about the Bedales Rock Show here.

Music, for performers and listeners alike, is central to daily life in all three Bedales Schools


Bedales offers every musician even more challenging opportunities in which to study and take part in concerts, both at school and on tours abroad. Every student who is interested in the academic and practical study of music can be assured that these needs will be well looked after by members of staff who are themselves actively engaged in professional musical making.

The appreciation of artistic beauty informs all that we offer. It has been most elegantly summarised by Lady Marjory Allen, “The splendid sense of belonging was at its most intense at evening Assemblies when we heard music that I love.”

Year 9 (Block 3)

Members of Block 3 who are keen to develop their knowledge of music may opt to attend a weekly music class throughout their first year at Bedales. Having, initially, secured an understanding of the rudiments of music, students will be taken to more advanced levels of theoretical knowledge. They will also study the development of western notation, tuning systems and score textures. An appreciation of musical forms and historical styles will be encouraged through the analysis of scores and, albeit at an elementary level, the working of technical exercises in harmony and counterpoint. Case-studies will be made of various important composers though the use of both audio and visual media. The course is focused on western classical traditions, but popular music as well as non-western music and experimental music will also be included.

Years 10 & 11 (Blocks 4 & 5)

Classical Music

The Bedales Assessed Course in Classical Music is designed for the musician who is academically ambitious. Placing greater emphasis on theory and history than GCSE, it is equally suitable for students considering Music A level and for those who seek a more informed enjoyment of their practical music-making. There are parallel and related topics in Analysis and History, Compositional Techniques and Free Composition. The detailed study of increasingly substantial works will form a major element in the course.

Music GCSE

GCSE Music approaches the subject in a broad and stimulating way, along the three linked paths of listening, performance and composition. Work is based around four major areas of study – Western Classical Music, Music in the 20th Century, Popular Music in Context and World Music.

Examining Board: Edexcel 1426

Sixth Form

In order to challenge and satisfy the ambitions of those students who have already achieved a very high level of academic understanding and practical ability, we have decided to offer Cambridge Pre-U as an alternative to the Edexcel A Level. It is a six term course, with no halfway exams at the end of 6i. The increased level of difficulty with Pre-U has been recognised by UCAS and a higher tariff allocated.
There are four areas of assessment:

  • Listening, Analysis and Historical Study (30%)
  • Performing Solo, ensemble and improvisation (22.5%)
  • Composing (22.5%)
  • Dissertation or Advanced Recital or Free Composition (25%)

Examining Board: CIE
View examination requirements for Cambridge Pre-U (practical)

Music department news...

Congratulations to Luca Caruso who won a scholarship to study Jazz Drums at the Royal Academy of Music, Caleb Curtis who was awarded a place to study Cello at the Royal Academy of Music, Hope Cramsie who will study Classical Guitar at the Royal College of Music, and Antonia Richards and George Butler who will study singing at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire and the Royal Northern College of Music respectively. Two other senior musicians Quito Clothier and Elmo Meath-Baker have been awarded places to read Music at top universities and both students recently achieved very high marks in their Grade 8 performance exams.

All musicians have made a significant contribution to musical life here, performing as soloists in school productions ranging from the Bedales Rock Show to Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel. These achievements are a tribute to years of hard work on the pupils’ part, in collaboration with Bedales’s outstanding instrumental and academic staff. We wish them every success in future.




Music ensemble opportunities

  • Symphony orchestra
  • Chamber orchestra
  • Concert Band
  • School choir (non-auditioned)
  • Cecilia Consort (elite choir)
  • Barbershop group
  • Brass group
  • String quartets
  • Wind ensemble

Acting Head of Department: William Lithgow

Read about Music at Bedales Pre-prep, Dunannie and Bedales Prep, Dunhurst

View list of visiting Music staff

Read profiles of music students:

Read profiles of Old Bedalians working in the music industry:

View the Bedales photo gallery for previous music events.