Loading tweet...


The passionate Shiplake Music Department is proud to offer 'music for all'. Music is firmly established in the curriculum and is a popular academic subject throughout all year groups, with lessons offering an exciting mix of practical, creative and academic skills. Staff are progressive in their use of technology, in line with the College’s policy to embrace modern technology in many ways to enhance teaching. Each project contains opportunities for personalised learning. Music staff also coordinate a superb co-curricular music programme, allowing pupils to place the subject at the heart of their Shiplake experience.


A modern, purpose-built Music Department is housed on the ground floor of the John Turner Building. This provides first-class facilities fit to serve our talented musicians, including a fully-equipped recording studio, seven practice rooms and two large ensemble classrooms. IT facilities with specialist music software allow pupils to explore the technology behind modern recordings. The state-of-the-art recording studio offers pupils the opportunity to become familiar with recording equipment.

Furthermore, the Lecture Theatre, complete with a Baby Grand Piano, provides the perfect platform for intimate musical recitals and concerts. The most popular musical events will continue to take place in the Great Hall or Sports Hall, to accommodate larger audiences.

A recent fundraising appeal has helped to raise funds to purchase additional instruments for the department. Over £12,000 has been pledged by parents, staff and friends of the College to provide the best possible resources for pupils to enjoy.

Additional Opportunities 

Pupils are able to pursue numerous co-curricular musical opportunities, with a huge range of ensembles on offer. All groups take advantage of regular opportunities to perform throughout the year in prestigious concerts within the College and externally. Further information can be found on the co-curricular music page.

Music plays a leading role in Assemblies and Chapel services throughout the year and all pupils are encouraged to sing loud and proud during hymns. The annual inter-House singing competition is always hotly-contested.

Professional musicians regularly visit the College offering demonstrations and master-classes while students are taken on trips to concerts in the local area and in London. Many pupils also enjoy individual instrumental and vocal lessons from our dedicated team of peripatetic teachers.


Key Stage 3

Boys follow a varied curriculum in Years 7-9 with an emphasis on developing the key musical skills of performing, composing and listening and appraising. This is achieved through the completion of projects such as ‘The Journey to Jazz’, ‘The Music Industry’ and ‘Music Around the World’. 


GCSE Music is all about creating, performing and analysing a wide variety of music from different times and cultures. This is excellent preparation for further study of Music but also develops key skills such as communicating and analysing which are relevant to any future career choice. Each of the topics covered is taught in an inspirational and engaging way with frequent practical performances to bring the music to life.

GCSE Music continues to develop the three main skill developed during Key Stage 3: 'performing', 'composing' and 'listening and appraising'. These areas constitute the areas for assessment. The ability to perform on an instrument (or voice) is highly desirable. There is no need to worry if you have not done any music grade exams but it would help if you currently have instrumental or vocal lessons. Familiarity with the basics of music notation is also essential.

Sixth Form

Girls and boys in the Sixth Form have two options to continue the study of Music. The College offers Music as an A Level and BTEC course. The A Level course is designed for dedicated and talented musicians who are interested in extending all the skills covered at GCSE including composition and analysis. Students wishing to pursue an A Level in Music should have achieved at least Grade 5 on their first instrument or voice. A Level students will be expected to play a leading role in the musical life of the College, and to support as many ensembles as possible. The course allows pupils to develop their skills in performing, composing, listening and appraising, well as studying music from several genres and historical periods. Students will be assessed through a public performance, composing two pieces and listening and appraising, answering questions on listening extracts.

The BTEC course is highly practical and is suitable for self-motivated and independent musicians who have achieved a standard of performance of Grade 5 or above on their chosen voice or instrument. Teaching will cover six units across the two year course, including helping to stage and promote a gig, developing a personal programme designed to improve skills as a practising musician, composing music to a brief determined by the exam board, exploring what is necessary to become successful in the music industry, performing a solo recital in front of an audience and exploring the latest music software. Most of the units are practical and theoretical in nature.

Those studying a Music A Level or BTEC will develop their performance skills and become independent learners. Students are well suited to continue the further study of Music, or to pursue a career in the Music or creative industries. The course is well respected by all universities owing to the diverse range of skills the qualification assesses. Studying this A Level can not only open doors to continuing the subject at university, but also to a variety f other career opportunities.

Our passionate staff are proud to offer music for all
Richard Curran, Director of Music