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18 May 2022
by Ferdinand Steinbeis

Music boarding schools in the UK - our FIVE favourite boarding schools with great music

Summer greetings from Oxford!
In this article we'll introduce you to five of our favourite boarding schools with excellent music in the UK. The British boarding schools which focus on music and other artistic subjects have an excellent reputation worldwide. But don’t be deceived: these schools never just offer good music! Quite the opposite - the best ‘music boarding schools’ (for lack of a better term) on the island are all-rounder schools that offer academic excellence as well as sports, drama, and a manifold of exciting extracurricular opportunities.
Inevitably, at these schools pupils will have all kinds of musical instruments and professional music teachers at their disposal. Singing teachers support individual talents. We’ll present our top 5 boarding schools with excellent music and answer the most common questions we get at von Bülow about music at boarding schools. Please feel free to get in touch with us if this post doesn't answer all your questions.
Haileybury's magnificent music hall
UK Boarding schools with excellent music
Music is an integral part of school life at all boarding schools in the UK. However, many schools focus more on sports or academic excellence. Boarding schools with a focus on music clearly stand out here thanks to intensive talent development. Many graduates of music boarding schools have later attended some of the world's best music universities or have started equally successful careers as musicians. For the others, after graduating with very good grades, their passion for music became a wonderful hobby alongside their main profession.
Music boarding schools or schools with excellent music lessons awaken the most hidden musical talents and perfect the skills of already gifted students. The most diverse musical genres are included: from classical to jazz and blues to pop and crossover - all genres are covered. In addition, the students are encouraged to become creative themselves, to translate their thoughts and feelings into music and to compose and record their own pieces in the schools’ state-of-the-art recording studios.
Performances in front of an audience are also very much part of musical life at these boarding schools. Music also contributes to the personal development of the students, because hardly anything connects cultures and religions as well as music does.
Academic prowess and musical virtuosity: the advantages of music boarding schools in the UK
Among our top 5 music boarding schools in the UK are both accredited music schools and schools with an outstanding music offer. On our school overview page for mixed boarding schools you can read about the general advantages of a British boarding school, especially for students from German-speaking countries. Here are the advantages of these types of schools:
  • In addition to excellent teachers, who themselves often attended the best music academies on the island, there are professional singing coaches for the students on site
  • Talents which had previously might have lain dormant are discovered and young virtuosos are promoted
  • Every student has the opportunity to try out different instruments at no charge
  • Music life is rich and versatile and everything from orchestras, big bands, string ensembles, solo performances or self-founded bands is possible
  • Lessons and rehearsals take place under optimal conditions with the best musical equipment of all kinds
  • All the music teachers are qualified experts and often former musicians themselves
  • There's only short distances to the music lessons and rehearsal rooms, eliminating the associated risks and travel times
  • Making music together promotes a sense of community, self-confidence and creativity
  • Music is an excellent stress minimizer and a balance to academic teaching and performance demands
  • There are regular opportunities to perform in front of an audience
  • There are partial or full music scholarships, academic scholarships and other funding opportunities
A look behind the scenes - instrument storage at Uppingham School
von Bülow’s Top 5 boarding schools with excellent music offers in the UK
In our personal von-Bülow-Top-5 of the boarding schools with the best music offers in the UK, you'll find schools with famous music departments. But we'll also tell you about boarding schools which are less well-known in terms of music, but which have more than earned their place in our top 5 thanks to their successes.
1. Wells Cathedral School: Training ground for musicians with an individual touch
Wells Cathedral School is one of the oldest schools in Europe and world-famous for the academic achievements of its students as well as for its extensive sports and creative activities. Music in particular has played an important role in Wells, and has done since the school was founded in the year 909. The students at Wells Cathedral School are guided to explore the interfaces between music, technology and other disciplines. The lessons deal with music from all the eras and musical genres a musician could want. From Gregorian chants to contemporary genres, nothing is neglected here. The school has a Cathedral Choir School and a specialised music academy. The first-class orchestras, choirs, ensembles and bands have already produced many well-known musical virtuosos. Cedar Hall is a concert hall with world-class acoustics, which allows the students to play in a philharmonic atmosphere.
Music lessons are firmly embedded in the timetable. The music teachers and vocal coaches come from the best music academies; some of them are active and successful musicians themselves, while others teach at British conservatories. Renowned guest artists ensure the best variety and musical richness. At Wells, musical gifts are discovered and existing special talents who aspire to a music career are promoted in a specialised music program. Special talents who want to be included in the special music program must audition for this elite musical training school. However, the normal, almost all-encompassing music lessons at this boarding school are open to all students. Because Wells' maxim is: Everyone can become a musician. James Ehnes, an internationally acclaimed violinist, once put it this way: “At this school, students not only receive a first-class education, but also the kind of attention which allows them, as individual artists with unique personalities, to flourish.”
Seen at Wells Cathedral School - Microphone at the ready!
2.Uppingham School: Music as a way of life
Founded in 1584, this boarding school in the Midlands county of Rutland is known for its excellent science lessons and sports, but also for artistic activities such as theatre, visual arts and especially music. Throughout its history, the Uppingham School has always been associated with musical pioneers. The music teachers still convey this cross-genre spirit of adventure today: classical, jazz, polyphony, hip-hop - every musical taste is catered for here. The teachers are professional musicians themselves and the music director at Uppingham is internationally renowned. The students also benefit from regular guest visits from world-class artists who give workshops and master classes.
Individual excellence as well as group dynamics in an orchestra or band is the focus of the development here. The musical ambitions and abilities of the students are always taken into account to help them achieve and often exceed their individual goals. Uppingham students have access to three music schools with modern studio technology, rehearsal rooms and great stages. Many local performances, as well as concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in London or the Cathedral of St John the Divine in New York, prepare the aspiring virtuosos for a future music career. Students who want to focus on music in addition to a comprehensive academic education are in good hands at Uppingham. The music lessons at the boarding school are simply the best of the non-specialised music schools on the island.
Where the magic happens - recording studio at Haileybury
3.Shrewsbury School: Not only sporty, but also musical
Shrewsbury School is actually best-known as an excellent school for most sports. But the boarding school also offers music lessons, which always produce extraordinary success stories. This also makes it, in our opinion, the ideal boarding school for aspiring musicians. Salopians, as the students of Shrewsbury School are known, have such a wide selection of types of music that everyone can find the right one for them. At Shrewsbury, music history, theory and practice intertwine. Examining music from different eras promotes an understanding of other times, generations and cultures. This is particularly successful in interdisciplinary teaching units where music, art, literature and history are considered in a living context.
Practically, the students are taught on all conceivable instruments and with individual vocal training. Every new student can try out all the instruments in a trial lesson. The music genres range from classical and choral to jazz, rock and pop. Regular workshops, performances and competitions are voluntary, but they always challenge the students to achieve their top performance. Musical productions are also part of the offer for Salopians, and are performed every two years at the Ashton Theatre.
Framlingham College's recording studio
4.Framlingham College: Individual development in music and music technology
Framlingham College, in the beautiful county of Suffolk in eastern England, is an integrative boarding school with an excellent theatre and music programme. Lucy Bloore, the music director of the "Fram", emphasises again and again how proud she is of the achievements of her students and graduates. And rightly so, in our opinion. The famous soprano Laura Wright and the classical singer Christina Johnston are just two examples of former Framlingham students who have achieved a successful career as professional musicians. With a healthy amount of fun, vocal and instrumental talents are optimised to find their musical fulfilment in bands, orchestras or solo careers.
The school provides each child with a personal mentor who accompanies them throughout their entire time at school. Through this seamless individual support, hidden talents can be discovered and the goals set can be achieved or exceeded together. Students also have the choice of taking music or music technology, or both. The music department of the Fram offers everything a musician's heart desires: instruments of all kinds, band and rehearsal rooms, a brand new recording studio and much more. The young musicians can play in concerts, compete in competitions or attend workshops and master classes. In addition, the school runs its own shows, which are mostly musicals, in cooperation with the theatre department.
Drum lesson at Shrewsbury Schoool
5.Haileybury School: Focus on talents for choir, opera and orchestra
Haileybury is not only famous for the excellent IB school degrees of its graduates and for being an absolute eye-catcher, celebrated by architecture magazines. The boarding school in Hertfordshire also has a long musical tradition and can certainly be described as a musical training ground. Students who are looking for a career in choral or opera singing or in the orchestra are in especially good hands at Haileybury. The school's wonderful symphony orchestra and chamber music ensemble is only surpassed by its choir, which has already won awards such as the BBC's "Songs of Praise Choir of the Year 2015". But solo careers and jazz, pop, rock and big bands have also started here, because Haileybury offers a stage for all styles of music. One of its former students, for example, is the world-famous opera singer Rosie Aldridge, who repeatedly emphasises in interviews that her time at Haileybury played a decisive role in her musical career.
Simon Bland, the Head of Music at Haileybury, sees music as a structure which holds society together, and his students as ambassadors in the broadest cultural and global contexts. All instruments, rehearsal rooms, concert halls, recording studios and a technology suite are available to the students. Constant new challenges with accompanying support make the students give their best and continuously improve. The young musicians regularly go on concert and opera tours, biennial music tours and produce musicals together with the acting department. Music students with the appropriate skills are encouraged to contact the Junior Department of the Royal College, the Royal Academy and the Guildhall. Many of Haileybury's students are also members of national ensembles like the National Youth Orchestra, the National Youth Concert Band and the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain.
Do you still have questions about boarding schools in the UK with excellent music lessons?
In addition to the maximum promotion of your child's musical talents, all the boarding schools in our top 5 offer excellent school education. So all doors are open to your child after graduating from school, if they don't end up making it as a professional musician after all. Our von Bülow team will be happy to help you find the right boarding school in the UK for your child.

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