Classroom music is taught to all boys in the Shell year (one lesson each cycle) and is then offered as an academic option through to university entrance. In the Remove pupils may opt to take a two-year GCSE course (Edexcel). They will need ABRSM Grade V Theory in order to complete the GCSE course. In the Sixth form music at A level (Edexcel) is offered. Boys may also opt to take a music EPQ submitting either a recital (solo or ensemble) or a composition portfolio.
Pupils can also opt to take lessons in Music Theory (ABRSM grades V-VIII). Skills developed in the classroom are nurtured outside the classroom through individual instrumental and vocal lessons, ensembles, workshops with visiting professional musicians, and concert visits. All boys have access to the music technology facilities where workstations are equipped with Logic Audio Gold and Sibelius. Radley musicians are ambitious and regularly gain places to read music at Oxbridge and at conservatoires. In recent years Radleians have gained places to read music at Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, Royal College of Music, Royal Academy of Music, and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
The Shells are taught music in small, mixed ability sets. The course is built on three closely related and integrated areas of study: performing, listening and composing. Performing, both in groups and as individuals, is supported by listening work, covering a wide range of styles including western music 1700-1980, popular music, world music, and commercial music including music for game consoles and music for film & television. This becomes the basis of composing and arranging music using both acoustic instruments and music technology. The aim of the Shell music course is to equip all boys to make an informed decision about GCSE music, which is not just an examination for boys who would regard themselves as musicians.
There are three areas of study in the Edexcel GCSE Music syllabus:
- Performing: a portfolio of three instrumental solo performances
- Composing: a portfolio of instrumental and vocal compositions
- Listening: A wide range of music, including classical, popular and world music is used to develop an informed and discriminating ear. The final assessment is by means of a written examination based on recorded extracts of both familiar and unfamiliar music.
The Edexcel A level Music syllabus contains three units of assessment:
- Performing: a solo recital (ABRSM grade VIII standard)
- Composing: a portfolio of free compositions and stylistic compositions
- Appraising: an exploration of a wide variety of set works including popular and world music. The final assessment is by means of a written examination based on recorded extracts of both familiar and unfamiliar music.
A good performance at A level Music is obviously a necessary entrance qualification for those intending to read music at university or to study music at a conservatoire. In addition, A level Music provides students with analytical and critical skills as well as creative and practical skills, and a broad cultural understanding. These are valuable assets for most undergraduate study.