• Radley College, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14 2HR
  • Telephone: 01235 543000, Fax: 01235 543106





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Instrumental Music Lessons

Apart from its place in the curriculum, music plays a significant part in the life of the College, both on a daily basis in Chapel, and in a wide range of public concerts, informal workshops, competitions and drama productions. Details of all musical events are published in the College Calendar and on the Radley College website.

All boys are actively encouraged to consider the possibility of learning to play a musical instrument or having singing lessons, either as a beginner or to continue studies already begun at their previous school.

The Head of Instrumental Music, Anthony Williams, is always happy to speak to boys and their parents to discuss the question of instrumental or vocal tuition.  All enquiries about the operation of the Instrumental and Vocal Tuition Scheme should be addressed in the first instance to the Music Administrator at the College, Mrs Gayle Gunningham.


Tuition is available for the following instruments:

bagpipes, bass (jazz & orchestral), bassoon, cello, clarinet, DJing, drum kit, euphonium, flute, guitar  (classical, electric, acoustic, bass), harp, harpsichord, horn, jazz piano, music technology, oboe, organ, percussion, piano, saxophone, singing, trombone, trumpet, tuba, viola, violin

Weekly forty-minute lessons are provided by visiting specialist teachers, on a rota basis for boys in the Lower School and outside of academic lessons in the Sixth Form. Lower School boys will miss some academic lessons, games or other College activities to attend these lessons and they are charged for separately.


The College owns a stock of musical instruments which may be hired. Most boys already have an instrument or purchase their own once they start to make progress. Staff are always willing to advise on the purchase of instruments and can often negotiate advantageous terms on behalf of pupils and parents.

There are special lockers in the Music School where boys should store their instruments and music. Standard name tags are available for instrument cases and all music must be clearly marked with the owner’s name. Parents are advised to ensure that their son’s instrument is insured against “all risks” up to its full replacement value. The College cannot accept any responsibility for loss or damage to an instrument, however it is caused.


Boys who have music tuition are expected to organise regular practice in their own free time. The Music School is open every day from 7.00am until 10.15pm and there are a large number of practice rooms available during that time. It is only by undertaking regular practice that boys will make progress and it is important that they understand that taking music tuition involves such a commitment beyond the individual weekly lesson.

New boys are given assistance and advice on how to organise their practice and to use available time to best effect. It is however essentially a question of self-discipline and most boys do learn how to manage their time so as to ensure the necessary practice gets done each week.


All boys get a written report from their specialist music teacher at the end of each term along with their academic reports. The Head of Instrumental Music and other full time music dons are always available for consultation at Parents’ Meetings during the year, and are happy to be contacted informally at other times to discuss any problems that might arise.

Lesson Fees

Individual instrumental and singing lessons are charged per 40 minute lesson; details are given on the annual fee notice issued with the first account. They are invoiced in advance. For the Michaelmas Term eleven lessons will be invoiced, for the Lent Term eight lessons will be invoiced and for the Summer Term seven lessons. A credit will be given on the following term’s invoice in the event the full number of lessons not being received (other than for lessons for which a boy is absent - see below)

Hire Charges

A charge is made for all instrument hire including percussion each term and these are detailed on the annual fee notice. Reeds, strings and music are charged to boys’ accounts at cost.


If a boy fails to attend a previously timetabled music lesson for any reason the lesson still has to be paid for and will be charged to the boy’s account as if it had taken place. We will then follow our Procedure for Absences.

Visiting Music Teachers work at the College on a freelance basis and specifically allocate their time to Radley across the academic year often turning down other guaranteed work to accomodate their pupils at Radley and their teaching here may form only a part of a broader schedule involving travelling to and from other schools. Therefore once boys are timetabled teachers will expect to be remunerated regardless of a pupil’s absence. 

The Head of Instrumental Music will however do everything time permits to chase up persistent absentees in conjunction with Tutors.  Please see our Procedure for Absences. 

Notice Requirements

If a boy is to stop receiving instrumental or vocal tuition at Radley a full term’s notice in writing to the Head of Instrumental Music is required, or fees are payable in lieu of such notice.

See the Conditions of Instrumental & Vocal Tuition.

Beyond The Individual Lesson

The main purpose of learning to play an instrument, apart from the personal satisfaction of achieving some degree of proficiency, must be to make music with other people. Music is a social art, and there is a large variety of performance opportunities available to boys of all levels of achievement. There are also a number of College Competitions during the year for instrumentalists and singers. The full-time staff and the visiting specialists run a number of ensembles and groups providing essential opportunities for all boys who express a wish to do so to participate in music-making together. These activities are provided free of charge.

Practical and Theoretical Examinations

The College can enter boys for the practical and theoretical examinations of all the major examining boards and such examinations usually take place at Radley. Entry fees are paid by the College and charged to a boy’s account. For practical examinations we provide a range of support including accompanists and rehearsal time to ensure thorough preparation for the examination and, where possible, also offer mock practical exams beforehand, conducted by an experienced examiner of that particular board.

Theory of Music and Aural Work

It is challenging for a Visiting Music Teacher in a 40-minute lesson to combine teaching a boy the technical aspects of playing the instrument alongside the theory of music and aural skills needed, particularly in the upper grades. This important support is also therefore offered by the full-time members of the department free of charge enabling pupils to enter both practical and theoretical examinations of all the major examining boards with confidence.


Around a fifth of the school currently has singing lessons and all boys who play an instrument are encouraged to sing in the choir. The experience is not only rewarding but also useful for the development of aural skills which will enhance and develop instrumental progress. A string player, for example who is used to singing in a choir, will find it much easier to maintain his intonation when playing if he is regularly creating melodies with his voice; wind and brass players similarly have their pitching, music reading and breath control enhanced and developed by taking part in singing activities. As a consequence of the importance we attach to singing we offer 8 free singing lessons to all those who sing in the choir over the academic year or a credit for 8 lessons to those choir members receiving weekly vocal tuition. This is credited to the account of the end of the summer term.

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