Best UK Schools For Music In 2024: Exploring Opportunities, Programmes, and Facilities

In the vibrant landscape of music education, the United Kingdom stands as a beacon for aspiring musicians. With a rich tradition of excellence and innovation, the country boasts an array of top-tier institutions dedicated to nurturing musical talent. In this guide, we delve into the realm of music education in the UK, uncovering the best schools that offer exceptional programmes and world-class facilities. Join us as we embark on a journey through the harmonious corridors of learning, where passion meets expertise, and where dreams take flight in melodies that echo across generations.

Best UK Schools for Music

Table of Contents

Introduction and Scope

Embarking on a journey to master the art of music is a pursuit filled with passion, dedication, and boundless creativity. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the best music schools in the United Kingdom, highlighting their exceptional programmes, faculty expertise, facilities, and opportunities for aspiring musicians.

Through in-depth profiles and insights, readers will gain valuable information about each school’s unique offerings and strengths, allowing them to make informed decisions about their musical education. Additionally, the article will address common questions and concerns related to music education in the UK, covering topics such as admissions requirements, scholarships, career pathways, and the international student experience.

Apply for the Music and Dance Scheme (MDS)

The Music and Dance Scheme (MDS) stands as a cornerstone of support for talented young musicians across the United Kingdom. Established by the Department for Education, this scheme aims to provide access to world-class training and education for exceptionally gifted students in music and dance.

Purpose and Objectives:

At its core, the MDS is designed to identify, nurture, and develop the potential of young musicians who demonstrate exceptional talent and dedication. By offering financial assistance and access to specialist training, the scheme aims to remove barriers to excellence and enable talented individuals to pursue their passion for music at the highest level.

Eligibility and Application Process:

Students applying for support through the MDS undergo a rigorous selection process based on their musical ability, potential, and commitment. Typically, applicants are required to audition and demonstrate proficiency in their chosen instrument or discipline. Successful candidates are then offered a place at one of the designated MDS schools, where they receive specialist tuition and guidance from expert faculty members. In the UK, there are currently 4 schools under this programme:

Benefits and Opportunities:

Once accepted into the MDS, students gain access to a wealth of benefits and opportunities aimed at nurturing their musical talent and facilitating their artistic development. These may include:

  • The MDS provides financial assistance in the form of means-tested grants to cover tuition fees, boarding costs, and other associated expenses.
  • MDS Schools offer Specialist Training.
  • MDS schools boast state-of-the-art facilities and grant students Access to Resources.

Best UK Boarding Schools for Music 2024

Chetham’s School of Music Review

At Chetham’s, every student embarks on a journey tailored to their musical aspirations, receiving personalised instruction in both primary and secondary instruments. With a curriculum encompassing ensemble rehearsals, structured practice sessions, and academic music classes, Chetham’s nurtures not only technical proficiency but also artistic expression and professional development. 

Beyond the core curriculum, students have the freedom to explore diverse musical avenues, whether delving into jazz improvisation, dabbling in composition, or mastering new instruments. Each student’s week is meticulously scheduled to balance musical and academic pursuits, ensuring a well-rounded education. From weekly performances to termly ensemble showcases, Chetham’s cultivates a vibrant atmosphere where musical growth flourishes and future successes are nurtured.

  • Boarding: Yes
  • Local authority: Manchester
  • Pupils: 327
  • Age: 8-19
  • Religion: None
  • Fees: Day £27,480; Boarding £36,066 pa
  • Open days: October and January

The Purcell School Music Review

The Purcell School, Britain’s oldest music institution, where approximately 190 talented young musicians aged 10 to 18 receive a transformative education with music at its core. Admission is based solely on musical ability, ensuring a diverse community of passionate musicians. Under the guidance of experienced faculty, students receive bespoke programmes of study tailored to their needs, complemented by academic music disciplines. 

With state-of-the-art facilities and a rich musical programme, including regular performances and collaborations with renowned musicians, The Purcell School empowers students to excel both academically and artistically, with many securing scholarships to top music colleges worldwide.

  • Boarding: Yes
  • Local authority: Hertfordshire
  • Pupils: 196 ; sixth formers: 80
  • Age: 10-18
  • Religion: Non-denominational
  • Fees: Day £31,098; Boarding £39,708 pa
  • Open days: November

Wells Cathedral School Music Review

Wells Cathedral School is where music has been at the heart of our community since their founding in 909. The school cherishes the rich tradition of the Wells Cathedral Choir, embodying centuries of musical excellence. Beyond its renowned choir, people here believe in the universal power of music to enrich lives, offering a diverse curriculum that encompasses singing, composition, rhythmic skills, and music technology.

With a commitment to pushing musical boundaries through innovation and creativity, the school embraces a wide range of musical styles and periods, from Gregorian chant to contemporary repertoire. Wells Cathedral School provides a unique educational environment, blending specialist music education with a comprehensive range of academic subjects and co-curricular activities. Surrounded by stunning surroundings and supported by world-class teachers and facilities, the students thrive in a nurturing and inspiring atmosphere where they can develop their talents and realise their full potential.

  • Boarding: Yes
  • Local authority: Somerset
  • Pupils: 777; sixth formers: 199
  • Age: 2-18
  • Religion: Church of England
  • Fees: Day £9,336 – £24,558; Boarding £24,828 – £40,029 pa

Yehudi Menuhin School Music Review

Welcome to the Yehudi Menuhin School, founded by the celebrated violinist Yehudi Menuhin in Surrey in 1963. The school offers a nurturing and stimulating environment for 86 exceptional students aged 8 to 19, irrespective of their economic background, to cultivate their musical talents to the highest level. 

With specialist tuition available in stringed instruments, piano, and classical guitar, students divide their time between academic studies and musical training, showcasing their skills through regular performances in the renowned Menuhin Hall and throughout the local community. Complementing their musical journey, students participate in a stimulating academic programme, sporting activities, and community service initiatives, embodying Menuhin’s belief in the transformative power of music and the importance of giving back.

  • Boarding: Yes
  • Local authority: Surrey
  • Pupils: 88; sixth formers: 35
  • Age: 8-19
  • Religion: Non-denominational
  • Fees: Day £45,719; Boarding £46,929 pa for those not on music and dance scheme
  • Open days: October/February/May

St Mary’s Music School Review

Nestled in the heart of Scotland, St. Mary’s Music School is a true gem in the world of musical education. As the sole specialist Music and Dance School in Scotland funded by the UK Government, it stands as a testament to the nation’s rich cultural heritage. Welcoming musically gifted children aged 9-19 from far and wide, this co-educational marvel offers not only a stellar academic curriculum but also a musical journey like no other. 

From the hallowed halls of St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Edinburgh to the classrooms where creativity knows no bounds, students are immersed in a vibrant tapestry of sound and learning. With each note echoing the spirit of its diverse community, St. Mary’s Music School continues to compose the melodies of tomorrow, drawing inspiration from Scotland and beyond.

  • Boarding: Yes
  • Local authority: Edinburgh
  • Pupils: 64; sixth formers: 14
  • Age: 9-19
  • Religion: Non-denominational
  • Fees: Fees before aided place: Day £29,664 – £33,168; Boarding £42,026 – £45,530 pa
  • Open days: Throughout the Year

Eton College Music Review

Eton College’s music programme is a testament to inclusivity and excellence, offering high-quality opportunities to boys of all musical abilities and backgrounds. With around 27 students joining annually through the Music Award programme, specialised support is provided to nurture their musical talents while they benefit from Eton’s exceptional academic and co-curricular offerings. The department’s commitment to instilling a love for music is evident through its wide range of solo and ensemble performance opportunities tailored to all levels of proficiency. 

Renowned for its outstanding academic and instrumental teaching, diverse performance platforms, and state-of-the-art facilities, Eton stands as an appealing choice for aspiring musicians seeking a well-rounded education. Beyond academics, the music department fosters a sense of belonging, becoming a second home for many students where shared passions thrive. Regardless of future musical pursuits, Eton aims to leave a lasting legacy of musical enjoyment in the lives of its students.

  • Boarding: Yes
  • Local authority: Windsor and Maidenhead
  • Pupils: 1,345; sixth formers: 551
  • Age: 13-18
  • Religion: Church of England
  • Fees: Boarding £49,998 pa

Sevenoaks School Music Review

Sevenoaks School’s illustrious music programme, steeped in a heritage dating back to the 1500s, offers a diverse array of musical opportunities within its bustling framework. With a team of 42 visiting music teachers providing instruction in 23 different instruments and a strong emphasis on vocal performance, students are encouraged to explore their musical passions to the fullest. Regular tours to European cities during summer holidays not only showcase students’ talents on international stages but also enrich their cultural experiences. 

Led by a team of 60 music scholars, the department fosters a culture of leadership, innovation, and collaboration, evident in their enthusiastic support of peers and championing of chamber music. As regular finalists in prestigious events like the Pro Corda annual chamber music festival, Sevenoaks continues to uphold its reputation for musical excellence, both locally and abroad.

  • Boarding: Yes
  • Local authority: Kent
  • Pupils: 1,217; sixth formers: 470
  • Age: 11-18
  • Religion: Non-denominational
  • Fees: Day £29,127; Boarding £46,785 pa

Shrewsbury School Music Review

At Shrewsbury School, the rich musical tapestry thrives on inclusivity and diversity, with nearly half of the pupils engaging in instrumental learning. From classical to contemporary, the ensemble experience spans across a myriad of styles and genres, ensuring every student finds their musical niche. For aspiring vocalists, various groups such as The Chamber Choir and Chapel Choir provide avenues for expression, alongside opportunities like House Singing and participation in musical theatre productions. 

The school’s ethos revolves around active participation, with tailored opportunities available for students of all skill levels. New pupils are welcomed with the chance to explore their musical interests through a complimentary trial lesson, regardless of prior experience, fostering a culture of exploration and discovery. Moreover, dedicated music scholarships are offered to experienced musicians, further nurturing their talents and contributions to the vibrant musical community at Shrewsbury.

  • Boarding: Yes
  • Local authority: Shropshire
  • Pupils: 823; sixth formers: 387
  • Age: 13-18
  • Religion: Church of England
  • Fees: Day £30,162 – £31,797; Boarding £43,980 – £45,582 pa
  • Open days: September and November

Oundle School Music Review

At Oundle School, music is truly for everyone, forming an integral part of the school’s vibrant community. With around 700 pupils actively involved in learning musical instruments or participating in choirs, inclusivity and excellence go hand in hand. Music Scholars and exhibitioners are given every opportunity to shine, contributing to the rich tapestry of ensembles that span from the renowned Chapel Choir to the Schola Cantorum. These experiences not only foster a sense of loyalty and confidence but also instil a deep appreciation for musical excellence. 

Led by a passionate team of full-time and visiting teachers, the Music department boasts state-of-the-art facilities, including dedicated teaching and practice rooms, recording studios, and an impressive array of instruments, from Yamaha pianos to Steinway grands. The school’s commitment to musical innovation is further showcased through its award-winning radio station, OSCAR Radio, providing students with a platform to share their musical talents with the world. With tradition and innovation at its core, Oundle School continues to inspire and nurture the musical talents of its students, shaping the next generation of performers and musicians.

  • Boarding: Yes
  • Local authority: North Northamptonshire
  • Pupils: 1,130; sixth formers: 410
  • Age: 11-19
  • Religion: Church of England
  • Fees: Day £22,350 – £29,370; Boarding £34,515 – £45,435 pa
  • Open days: September, February, May

King’s Ely Music Review

At King’s Ely School, music is not just a subject but a vibrant, inclusive journey of self-discovery guided by a team of dedicated specialists. From learning instruments to participating in a wide array of extra-curricular activities, every pupil is encouraged to explore their musical passions in an imaginative and stimulating environment. Nestled in the heart of King’s Ely Senior, the Gibson Music School offers a rich academic curriculum that delves into the diverse impacts of music throughout history. From ballroom to club dance, and from advertising to wartime compositions. 

Through listening, composing, and performing, students in Years 9 to 13 uncover the vital elements of music, bridging academic and extra-curricular experiences seamlessly. Whether it’s competing in the eagerly contested House Song Competition or embarking on regular tours, King’s Ely musicians are provided with ample opportunities to showcase their talents. Recent results speak volumes, with GCSE and AS Level achievements at exceptional levels, paving the way for many students to pursue further musical education at prestigious conservatoires and universities, or to embark on professional careers in the music industry.

  • Boarding: Yes
  • Local authority: Cambridgeshire
  • Pupils: 1,146; sixth formers: 218
  • Age: 2-18
  • Religion: Church of England
  • Fees: Day £12,477 – £26,214; Boarding £27,843 – £38,655 pa
  • Open days: September, October, March, May

Dean Close School Music Review

Dean Close School is synonymous with musical excellence, offering a wealth of opportunities for students of all abilities to explore their musical passions. The Music School’s welcoming and purposeful atmosphere sets the stage for a diverse range of performing opportunities, catering to both beginners and experienced musicians alike. With music embedded in the fabric of daily life, every pupil at Dean Close is encouraged to participate in musical performances throughout their school journey. 

The state-of-the-art Music School provides an inspiring environment, equipped with modern facilities including a hi-tech recording studio, concert hall, specialist classrooms, and an extensive instrument collection. From Year 9 onwards, students delve into the fundamentals of musical composition, performance, and analysis, guided by a team of experienced instrumental teachers. With over 200 individual music lessons conducted weekly, students have the opportunity to learn a wide range of instruments and explore various musical styles. On top of that, the renowned Carducci Quartet leads the Dean Close Strings Department, offering expert tuition and coaching for aspiring musicians. 

With a vibrant calendar of over 50 concerts, workshops, and music trips annually, including opportunities for solo and ensemble performances, Dean Close provides a platform for students to showcase their talents and nurture their musical aspirations. Scholarships are also available for entry at both 13+ and Sixth Form, further enriching the school’s musical community and fostering a culture of excellence and achievement.

  • Boarding: Yes
  • Local authority: Gloucestershire
  • Pupils: 520; sixth formers: 213
  • Age: 13-18
  • Religion: Church of England/Christian
  • Fees: Day £28,785; Boarding £42,750 – £46,500 pa
  • Open days: October

Leighton Park School Music Review

At Leighton Park School, music isn’t just a subject but an immersive experience that empowers students to explore, create, and excel. From day one, students are presented with abundant opportunities to learn, play, and perform, with the added bonus of being able to shape their musical journey behind the scenes using the school’s cutting-edge digital recording studio and editing suites. The school’s impressive track record speaks for itself, with students clinching top honours in prestigious national competitions, including the KS4/KS5 Independent School Association Composition Awards and the Bands competition, showcasing their talent and dedication to musical excellence. 

As a Flagship Yamaha Music Education Partner, Leighton Park School boasts an unparalleled array of instruments, industry-standard recording software, and exclusive teaching materials, setting the stage for students to unleash their musical potential. Moreover, the school’s partnership with Steinberg as a Certified Training Centre further enhances students’ musical prowess, with access to advanced music technology and support in musical notation and production. 

Partnering with Sontronics, a leading microphone specialist, offers students access to professional-grade equipment used by industry giants like Ed Sheeran and Adele, fostering a sense of creativity and ambition beyond the classroom. With workshops led by professional Yamaha musicians and ongoing support from industry leaders, Leighton Park School provides students with the tools and inspiration to thrive in the dynamic world of music.

  • Boarding: Yes
  • Local authority: Reading
  • Pupils: 534 ; sixth formers: 181
  • Age: 11-18
  • Religion: Quaker
  • Fees: Day £23,160 – £28,230 pa; Boarding £31,500 – £44,970 pa
  • Open days: March, May and June

Sedbergh School Music Review

Music has been an integral part of Sedbergh School’s fabric since its inception as a chantry school in 1525, shaping its vibrant community and enriching its cultural landscape. From the robust congregational singing to the inter-house competitions, music permeates every aspect of school life, offering students a myriad of opportunities to engage and excel. 

Led by a team of dedicated professionals, the Music Department orchestrates an extensive programme of extracurricular activities, involving over two hundred pupils in weekly rehearsals and individual music lessons. With a diverse range of choirs and ensembles available, including the prestigious Chapel Choir, students are encouraged to explore their musical talents and find their place within the school’s musical tapestry. From chamber groups to Symphony Orchestra, and from Big Band to Pipes and Drums Corps, Sedbergh offers a platform for students of all abilities to showcase their musical prowess. 

Beyond the school gates, Sedbergh’s musicians frequently perform at schools, cathedrals, and venues across the country, with the Chapel Choir embarking on international tours. At Sedbergh, music is not just a pursuit but a lifelong passion, nurturing creativity, camaraderie, and excellence in every student.

  • Boarding: Yes
  • Local authority: Cumbria
  • Pupils: 600; sixth formers: 272
  • Age: 13-18
  • Religion: Church of England
  • Fees: Day £29,835 – £30,690; Boarding £40,500 – £41,670 pa

Uppingham School Music Review

At Uppingham School, music permeates every aspect of life, offering unparalleled opportunities for students to explore and excel in their musical passions. Led by an internationally renowned director of music and a team of inspirational professionals, Uppingham’s programme celebrates individual excellence while embracing mass participation, ensuring that every pupil’s musical ambitions are celebrated and nurtured. 

With access to state-of-the-art facilities and performance spaces, students engage in group music-making, from major ensembles to specialised groups like the bagpipe band or wind quintet. Performance opportunities abound, from concerts within the school to prestigious venues worldwide. 

Through challenges that foster independence and self-discipline, Uppingham also empowers students to showcase their talents with professional-caliber performances, supported by a dedicated scholarship scheme that propels talented individuals towards further musical success. The school is also accredited by the Royal College of Organists, maintaining the highest standards of musical education, embodying a spirit of adventure and vitality that defines its rich musical heritage.

  • Boarding: Yes
  • Local authority: Rutland
  • Pupils: 845; sixth formers: 375
  • Age: 13-18
  • Religion: Church of England
  • Fees: Day £29,574; Boarding £45,522 pa
Best Music Schools in the UK
Bromsgrove School
Chetham’s School of Music
Culford School
Dauntsey's School
Dean Close School
Durham School
Eton College
Framlingham College:
Gresham's School
Haileybury School:
King’s Ely
Leighton Park School
Loretto School
Oswestry School
Oundle School
Purcell School for Young Musicians
Sedbergh School
Shrewsbury School:
St Mary’s Music School
Taunton School
The Yehudi Menuhin School
Uppingham School:
Wellington School
Wells Cathedral School

Frequently Asked Questions about Music Schools in the UK

The specific qualifications required vary depending on the school and the level of education you are applying for. Generally, applicants are expected to have a strong musical background, including proficiency in playing an instrument or singing. Some schools may also require applicants to have achieved certain grades in music exams such as ABRSM or Trinity.

Many music schools offer scholarships and bursaries to talented students, both at the entry level and for ongoing study. These scholarships often cover part or all of the tuition fees and may be awarded based on musical ability, academic achievement, or financial need. It’s advisable to check with each school individually for details on their scholarship opportunities and application process.

Music schools in the UK typically offer a wide range of programmes catering to students of different ages and skill levels. These may include pre-college programmes for young musicians, undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in music performance, composition, musicology, and music education. Additionally, some schools offer specialised programmes focusing on specific instruments, genres, or aspects of music technology.

Music schools often boast state-of-the-art facilities to support students’ learning and practice. These may include purpose-built rehearsal rooms, recording studios, concert halls, music libraries, and access to a wide range of musical instruments. Many schools also have highly qualified faculty members who provide individual tuition, ensemble coaching, and academic support to students.

Graduates of top music schools in the UK pursue diverse career paths within the music industry and beyond. Some may become professional performers, composers, conductors, or music educators, while others may choose careers in music administration, arts management, publishing, broadcasting, or academia. The skills and experience gained during their studies equip graduates to thrive in a variety of creative and entrepreneurial roles.

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