Why study Music at Bolton School?

Music at Bolton School is extremely successful with results consistently well-above the national average. The A-Level Music course is taught by Boys’ Division staff, but there are close links with the Girls’ Division for extra-curricular music.  You will enjoy the benefit of being taught by a number of different colleagues for individual aspects of the course.  Each member of staff is chosen for their specialism in a particular area of music, whether that is composing, harmony, listening, appraising or performing. 

Musical Opportunities at Bolton School

As a musician at Bolton School you will have the opportunity to be involved in a huge range of events ranging from solo performances at our in-house concerts right through to full-scale Gala concerts at venues such as the nationally renowned Bridgewater Hall in Manchester.  

There are over 30 ensembles, groups and bands to join enabling you to enhance your performing skills and open other social doors.  The quality of these ensembles is first rate with some being recognised nationally in competitions and festivals. Alongside the main concerts we have internal competitions such as our ‘Young Musician/Composer of the Year’ and ‘Battle of the Bands’ which feature many hundreds of boys demonstrating their musical skills.  

What will I study?

This is a wide ranging A-Level course which is designed to appeal both to potential University or Music College students and to students who simply enjoy music, giving scope for the development of individual interests and aptitudes.  The course covers, and gives insight into a spectrum of musical styles and genres.

How will I be assessed?


  • Component 1 ‘Appraising Music’ (40%) has a final examination including a listening test, analysis, and an essay covering the topics listed for AS level in more detail, with the addition of Romantic Piano Music; and two chosen from a selection (e.g. Jazz & Music Theatre) – study 5 or 6 artists, 3 in detail.
  • Component 2 ‘Performance’ (35%) consists of a 10-12 minute solo recital, which may include an optional ensemble element.
  • Component 3 ‘Composition’ (25%) consists of a coursework portfolio of 2 compositions, one according to a set brief, the other free composition, lasting a total of 4½ minutes (or more).

Desirable requirements

You should have a real love of, and interest in, music, with a performing standard of at least Grade 5, and a willingness to be involved in extra-curricular activities.  At least Grade 7 (but preferably 8 or 9) at GCSE is the usual requirement for entry onto the course.  Knowledge of music theory at ABRSM Grade 5 level is strongly recommended but is not essential.

Where will it lead?

Music is one of the country’s success ‘industries’. Apart from teaching and performing, study of music can lead to recording and media work, arts administration and a wide variety of careers outside music.  For those not interested in following a music based career it is an A-Level course which can be used as a qualification for university entrance.