Apart from its place in the curriculum, music plays a significant part in the life of the school - both on a daily basis in Chapel, and in a wide range of public concerts, informal workshops, competitions and drama productions. Almost half the boys at the school have singing or instrumental lessons.
The Music Department is staffed by four specialists and over thirty visiting instrumental and singing teachers. There is a purpose built concert hall (The Silk Hall), a theatre, an extensive suite of teaching and practice rooms along with a Music Technology facility and recording studio. In addition there is a comprehensive library of recordings, scores, reading and reference books, which is available centrally from the School Library.
All boys in the Shells have one period of class music per academic cycle along with a Music Technology Option. Music is available at GCSE and at AS and A level. A number of boys go on to read music at university or music college, often as choral or organ scholars, and there are many distinguished Old Radleians in the music profession (e.g. John Lubbock, Harry Bicket, Andrew Gant, Michael Dussek).
Outside the classroom there is ample opportunity for a boy to involve himself in music-making at Radley. There is the Chapel Choir and the Choral Society, as well as smaller vocal groups specialising in either light or early music. For instrumentalists there is the Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Big Band and Electric Guitar Orchestra as well as specialist ensembles for strings, wind and brass, along with a variety of chamber music. There are also classical and electric guitar ensembles and rock bands, some coached by staff, but many others organised by boys.
There is a carefully structured set of varied performance opportunities for boys of all abilities and aspirations, ranging from small scale informal concerts, workshops and Performance Classes, to opportunities to perform in the Piano Extravaganza, play concertos with the orchestra, or conduct and play with a professional guest orchestra. There are also various annual instrumental and vocal competitions for which important school prizes are awarded. see Music Diary
In addition boys attend concerts and opera in London or Birmingham and are themselves also involved in performing away from Radley; concerts are staged in London and the Chapel Choir regularly sings Evensong in Cathedrals and Colleges in Oxford and beyond. Recently school ensembles and choirs have also toured to Italy, the Czech Republic, Germany, France, Spain and Estonia. Radley College has a professional Ensemble in Residence, who as well as giving concerts within the College, also works with pupils on composition and performance projects.