Peter Symonds College

Study at PSC

Symonds is the place for musical ambition!

A Level Music students at Peter Symonds College develop a range of skills in performing, composing, listening and writing about set works. We provide free instrumental tuition, brilliant weekly music activities and concerts in some great venues. Our department includes a professional accompanist and recording engineer, and amazing Steinway pianos.

Students can choose their favourite style in performing and free composition, and the written paper includes set works from selected film scores, classical, pop, jazz and world music.

  • Our students get brilliant results, and progression to top universities, conservatoires and contemporary colleges is outstanding.
  • The college pays for your weekly instrumental or vocal 1-2-1 lesson
  • We have a highly-regarded team of professional teachers covering A level and instrumental/vocal lessons
  • Our bands, choirs, orchestras and chamber groups perform to a brilliant standard in regular concerts in a range of exciting venues
  • We have one of the busiest music diaries in the country – come to one of our concerts and hear for yourself!
  • We have weekly lunchtime concerts in college – Classical and Contemporary
  • Our annual Festival invites famous musicians to lead workshops and give you feedback on your performance skills
  • You are accompanied by Samantha Carrasco, our amazing  Head of Keyboard
  • 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
  • All music students receive detailed guidance on applying for music-related higher education courses

Music A level is highly regarded by universities and employers, as it includes so many skills, whether you want to work in music or enter another profession:

  • Employers are looking for candidates who are creative, with imagination and flexibility
  • Musicians are good at working in a team
  • Musicians have superb independent study skills and are good at time-keeping
  • Skilled performers have also developed confidence in presentation skills
  • Live music can never be replaced by computers!

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

Course Content

Performance: weekly one-to-one instrumental or vocal lessons, recital preparation in small groups, solo performing opportunities to increase your confidence, piano accompaniment from our Head of Keyboard.

Composition: writing to detailed briefs set by the board, free composition or stylistic composition, using Sibelius software. One or two lessons per week.

Analytical study of set works from the anthology, including a wider historical context and developing listening skills. Two lessons per week.

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 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. Employers across many fields value the wide and varied skill-set cultivated by Music graduates, so as well as pursuing careers in the music industry, music graduates can be found in numerous other walks of professional life, including accountancy, law and academia.

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.

You will need the ability to read music scores confidently, and therefore we recommend students have passed Grade 5 Theory. If you do not have this qualification we will ask you to take a simple notation assessment at enrolment, and then take an extra theory class in September in order to pass the Grade 5 Theory exam during your first year. It is also preferable to have taken GCSE Music, but you may still apply without it if you are an experienced musician.

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: 0 3 6 9 5 2 0 25
Percentage 0.0 12.0 24.0 36.0 20.0 8.0 0.0