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Music touches the lives of everyone at The Oratory

The Music Department is passionate about encouraging all pupils to find and develop their love for music. Music is popular with our pupils and the opportunities to perform and to improve their skills are huge. Our co-curricular programme provides pupils with many further ways to enjoy Music.

Hopkins Jazz Evening 2019

One of the musical  highlights of The Oratory School calendar is the Hopkins Society Jazz Evening. Watch some videos and listen to the audios recorded during our latest Jazz Evening.





Music is an integral part of life at the school.  Our aim is to build a musical journey for every pupil in the school, whatever their level of musical ability or particular musical interest.

There are rehearsals for ensembles every day of the week, and individual lessons on instruments ranging from the piano to the bagpipes.

We have a strong tradition in both Choral and Jazz music; however, the repertoire encountered by our pupils encompasses everything from Plainsong to Punk.

There is a strong emphasis on performance and providing abundant opportunities to shine at all levels of ability. The choir has toured New York and Hong Kong in recent years.

There are frequent concerts in London and prestigious venues such as St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. The Jazz Band have had the opportunity to play alongside members of Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra, and there are frequent enrichment visits to venues such as the Wigmore Hall and English National Opera.


Mr Stephen Burrows - Director of Music


Music is a compulsory curricular subject from First to Third Form, when it becomes an option for GCSE and A Level. The Music Department seeks to develop the major skills of music: performing, listening and composing, which will be so important in later life, whether pursuing a career in Music or not. Academic results for music are consistently high.





Pupils may perform on any instrument, including voice. As a rough guide, they should expect to be at about Grade 4 standard by Fifth Form to achieve well. Graded music exams do NOT have to have been taken. Solo and ensemble   performing are both required. In both disciplines, the choice of repertoire is fairly free but candidates should be aware that they gain higher marks for   playing an easier piece well than for playing a more difficult piece badly.

Assessed internally and externally     moderated




Prepared and presented as coursework. Two compositions, together  lasting  between 3 and 6 minutes, are required. Both compositions must be related to the areas of study with the first responding to a ‘brief’ set by the exam board. A ‘composition log’ must be maintained, detailing the steps taken in the course of making the composition.

Assessed internally and externally      moderated


Listening and Appraising


The listening examination is centred around certain areas of study, which     embrace a wide range of periods and styles. It consists of a set of       questions to be answered in response to a series of recorded musical   extracts. Historical, cultural and musical contexts are asked, as well as questions on instrument recognition, and rhythmic and melodic dictation.

1 ¼ hr written          examination which tests listening and analytical skills



The A Level Music course follows the Eduqas specification and builds on the core GCSE skills of listening, performing and composing. To be a strong candidate you don’t necessarily need a GCSE in Music, but you do need to be able to perform on an instrument or in singing to Grade 7 standard by March of the Upper Sixth year. In addition, your knowledge of music theory needs to be at Grade 5 standard. Music at this level is not simply about being able to perform well on an instrument; while this is an important element, the course is as academic as it is practical, seeking to develop balanced musicians who have genuine passion for the subject.




A recital of 10-12 minutes’ duration, of a minimum of three pieces, either as soloist or part of an ensemble. One piece must reflect the musical characteristics of one area of study. At least one other piece must reflect the musical characteristics of one other, different area of study.

Assessed by a visiting examiner




Two compositions, of between four and six minutes’ total duration on two separate            composition briefs - one set by the candidate and the other by the exam board.

Non-examined assessment; marked internally and externally moderated


Listening and Appraising


Three areas of study, including Western Classical Music, Jazz and Contemporary Music.

2 hours 15 minute written examination, which tests listening and analytical skills


Beyond the Course: by studying Music, candidates will be developing a wide range of abilities such as the rigour of historical study and analysis, as well as the self-discipline of practising an instrument to a high standard. The majority of musicians will also have had much experience of collaborating with others in ensembles and choirs, with the associated skills which this engenders. Continued study at University or Music College is often a popular option for those studying the subject to A Level; however, Admissions Tutors welcome the variety of skills possessed by musicians and it is generally regarded as an excellent accompaniment to any other A Level courses. 




Schola Cantorum

The main school choir, which sings for concerts and services throughout the academic year. Recent performances have included Haydn’s Nelson Mass and Mozart’s Vesperae solennes de confessore. This group performs both at school and further afield, typically performing in London once each year.


The ‘premier’ choral group in the school, which sings our weekly service of Vespers and Benediction. This group also performs at many other venues, with recent highlights being a service at Keble College, Oxford and concerts in London. It also undertakes frequent tours, most recently to New York and Hong Kong.

Big Band

This group comprises woodwind, brass and percussion instruments and plays a wide range of jazz, blues and popular repertoire. It plays at many performances throughout the course of the school year, most notably for our ever-popular jazz evening.

String group

A small and specialised group of string instruments. It plays for numerous concerts in a variety of musical styles.

Brass Group

This is exactly what it says: a group of the best brass players in the school. They play for many different occasions throughout the year, in a variety of styles ranging from Monteverdi to modern repertoire.

In addition, there are many occasions throughout the school year when other ‘ad hoc’ ensembles are created for particular musical events.

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