Why Study Music?
Music is a hugely diverse field, encompassing practical and academic work, and bearing upon history, culture, science and even people’s sense of who they are. You wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t already fascinated by and passionate about music, but there are many different ways to further your knowledge of the field.
One important decision is whether to follow a university or conservatoire route. While both involve practical studies, universities set them in a broader context of academic study, which means that you acquire a large number of transferrable skills that prepare you for life after university. Conservatoires, on the other hand, tend to be more performance- or composition-focused.
Many Cambridge Music graduates enter the music profession in one guise or another, as performers, composers, teachers or administrators; in fact, though, a Music degree can prepare students for a career in almost anything, with a number each year going on to work in finance, management and law. In short, you can set yourself up for life while doing what you really want to do, and doing what you really want to do is the best way to get a good degree!
The Music Tripos, leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree after three years, is examined at the end of each year. Part IA, in the first year, is a broad-based course where all papers are compulsory (although there is the option to choose between performance, composition, and an extended essay within Paper 1). Part IB, taken during the second year, offers some opportunity to specialise, while during the final year, Part II, a greater number of options allow students to shape their learning more individually. Recent options at Part II include papers on Tudor England, Chopin, Brahms, Messiaen, film music, British pop, and music psychology, as well as a free dissertation choice, performance, and more traditional papers such as analysis, tonal skills, and fugue. In short, there is something for everyone.
For further information about the Music degree at Cambridge, click here.
The Course and the Teaching
Homerton takes a medium-sized cohort of Music students each year (usually between 2 and 4). All lectures and seminars are arranged by the Faculty of Music, but with Homerton College providing supervisions and excellent facilities and support for those reading the subject. The Director of Studies in Music is responsible for organising supervisions, which supplement the lectures. During supervisions, which typically have a supervisor-student ratio of either 1:1, 1:2 or 1:3, the set assignment will be discussed, and the supervisor will provide feedback on the submitted work.
Homerton has two full Fellows in Music as well as an Emeritus Fellow:
We also have an ensemble in residence, the Ligeti Quartet, shared with the Faculty of Music, who perform regularly at Homerton and elsewhere in Cambridge.
Homerton also has a well-equipped library, which houses an extensive collection of DVDs, CDs and scores, as well as books about music. The library also contains a large collection of chamber, choral and orchestral performance materials. All our Music students receive a digital piano in their college rooms, and Homerton has various others spaces for practice and rehearsal. We own twelve pianos, including Steinway, Yamaha and Blüthner grands, as well as an extensive collection of orchestral percussion instruments, electronic keyboards and a drum kit. In addition to the Auditorium, there are several rooms where concerts and recitals can be given, and the Homerton College Music Society, which is run by the students, organises concerts and lunchtime recitals, and other less formal events, on a regular basis. Music students are strongly encouraged to take part in college extra-curricular music-making.
All our Music undergraduates are provided with a generous allowance towards the cost of instrumental or vocal lessons. A number of Choral Scholarships are offered for singing in the Charter Choir (Homerton takes part in the University Choral Awards scheme), and we also offer an Organ Scholarship and an Accompanist Scholarship.
What We Are Looking For
Applicants must obviously be curious – and preferably enthusiastic – about their subject, with a desire to do more than simply play or listen to music. A large part of the course is devoted to theoretical and historical elements, so students must be motivated to engage with the music on an analytical level as well as with a wide variety of secondary literature. There are many opportunities to perform in Cambridge as well as at Homerton, although many of these are extra-curricular in nature, as performance is not an obligatory part of the Music course. Having said that, we do normally expect some sort of proficiency in at least one instrument. Other useful skills include having a foreign language, and you may also find that having a broader interest in something like history, culture, anthropology, or even science is beneficial.
We welcome applications from those who have studied at any sort of school, from any part of the UK or the world. Prospective applicants are welcome to get in touch at any point in the year.
Applying and the Interview Process
Applicants are expected to be taking Music at A Level (or equivalent qualifications such as Scottish Highers, the International Baccalaureate or ABRSM Grade 8 Theory). If you are following an A Level curriculum, the usual conditions of the offer will be that you obtain specified grades: typically A*AA (without specifying in which subject the A* should be obtained).Other than this there are no preferred other A levels or equivalent.
Applicants will be asked to send in a marked essay and examples of composition work in manuscript, and if possible a recording.
Those who are called for interview will be asked to take a short test in some musical skills, and will have two subject-specific interviews.