Peter Symonds College

Study at PSC

This course includes extra performance opportunities as well as A level Music

The Hampshire Specialist Music Course is designed for gifted young people who are thinking seriously about pursuing a career in music performance, and who want to combine A level Music with extra training in performance skills. Chamber music is an important part of the HSMC course – performing in small groups like string quartets, vocal ensembles and jazz groups, with one player or singer on each part.

The college pays for two 30-minute weekly instrumental or vocal 1-2-1 lessons, including a piano lesson with our Head of Keyboard. Progression to competitive universities and conservatoires is outstanding.

In 2021 we joined the Steinway Initiative, and the department now has three Steinway grand pianos, including the recent addition of a new Steinway model B grand, and four new Steinway upright pianos.

You are warmly invited to our HSMC Open Evening on Monday 2nd October 2023 from 6pm to 8pm. Music staff will introduce the course, and you can hear our current students perform. There will be plenty of time for you to speak to staff and students over refreshments.

HSMC auditions will be held in February 2024. Up to twelve places are offered each year. For full details come to the Open Evening or email us at

Course Content

Please note that students take the HSMC course in addition to a full academic timetable, which must include A level Music as one of your three subject options. Please take a look at the A level Music course leaflet for full details.

  • We have a highly-regarded team of professional teachers covering A level and instrumental/vocal lessons
  • HSMC students receive free tuition in two instruments (or voice), including piano lessons with our Head of Keyboard
  • Weekly chamber music coaching is included in your timetable
  • Preparation for ABRSM exams and the ARSM (diploma) on your main instrument or voice is included
  • There are many opportunities to perform in ensembles and as a soloist in recitals
  • HSMC students also perform in our bands, choirs and orchestras in the Enrichment programme, which all perform to a brilliant standard
  • We have one of the busiest music diaries in the country – come to one of our concerts and hear for yourself!
  • Masterclasses and workshops are given by professional performers
  • Detailed advice is given in preparation for auditions and choice of repertoire, and guidance on applying for all music-related higher education courses

You can find out more on our website: or on our Facebook page:

Methods & Patterns of Assessment

A level Music is a two-year course. At the end of the first year students take assessments in performance and composition, plus a written paper, which are all marked internally. At the end of the second year students perform a solo, recorded recital and complete two compositions, both components assessed by the board, and take a two-hour written exam in June.

Where Could It Take Me?

Going on to study music at university or at a conservatoire can lead to a career in performing, composing, conducting or teaching. Music can also lead to careers in the recording industry, publishing, arts management and the media.

Students wanting to study music beyond Peter Symonds receive specialist higher education guidance, and progression to competitive insitutions is outstanding. This guidance includes preparation for conservatoire auditions and workshops for Oxbridge/Russell Group entry requirements.

Financial Implications

Students need to buy one textbook – the Edexcel A level Anthology of Music – either new from the department at a subsidised price of £40 or second hand. Students pay a £10 contribution towards photocopying and approximately £15 for a concert trip in the Autumn Term (other music trips are optional). The College has a Student Support Fund for those students who have difficulty meeting these costs. Students can also apply for annual awards to help with costs such as ABRSM exams, instruments and courses.

Entry Requirements

5 GCSEs at grade 4 or above, including Mathematics and English, plus Grade 5 in performance, or the equivalent standard if you have not taken exams, and the ability to read scores confidently. Please take a look at the entry requirements for A level Music.

You will be asked to attend an audition in February 2024, to perform two pieces on your first study instrument or voice (grade 7/8 standard) and one piece on your second instrument or voice (if you have one). Please note that piano lessons are included in the HSMC course but piano beginners may still apply. The audition also includes sight-reading tests and a short interview.

Most Recent Results

Below is a summary of the most recent set of results for this subject:

Grade: A* A B C D E U Total
Total: 3 4 3 0 0 0 0 10
Percentage 30.0 40.0 30.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0