Music in Formal Education


Music has an extremely important place in a person’s development and has a great positive impact on our psyche. It is therefore very important to have an easy access to learning music. Learning to sing in a kindergarten or school is the first step for children into the world of music. In the UK there are also a lot of options of turning you music hobby into a career, whether you follow the higher education path or a vocational one. Government supports and recognises music as an enriching and valuable academic subject and consequently it receives a lot of funding. Here is quick guide through and education pathway in music.

Music in schools

In all of the schools where the National Curriculum sets out the compulsory subjects, music is included as one of the foundation subjects. It is compulsory at key stages 1,2 and 3 of school education with some schools offering them at the later stages with a potential to achieve a GCSE in music. You will have to check individual schools for more details about this option. The same goes for A levels, but taking an exam at this level at school is not very common among students as they still need to take separate grade exams to get into Higher Education (please refer to Grade System article).

Grade exams

You can take grade exams regardless of the type of education you are getting, whether it’s school or personal tuition, as long you follow the rules of grade examinations. There is an option of skipping stages 1-4 but stage 5 is a gateway to gaining any further qualification.

Specialist schools

There are not that many specialist school in the UK and music specialisation is quite new, as it was only introduced in 2004. Specialist schools are still required to meet all requirements of the National Curriculum so these schools do not deviate from the existing statutory provision. What they are rather doing is adding extra value by putting extra emphasis on music teaching: this specialisation provides an incentive to improve the whole school.

Higher Education in Music

The obvious route for getting a higher Education degree is University. Universities in the UK provide a wide range of degrees in Performance Arts, which include music and singing. You can choose from classical performance to music production and recording, whichever you want to develop and work in. An alternative to a University degree is studying in a Conservatoire or music Academy which are also considered as higher education providers. They focus only on Arts degrees mostly related to music but also sometimes cater courses in other arts. The Royal Academy of Music, Royal College of Music and Royal Academy of the Dramatic Arts are the leading institutions in the UK, students with deep pockets and an international longing may want to look at the prestigious Juilliard school in New York.