a picture of students working in class on computers

At King Edward’s School, the exceptional standard and scale of music attract many boys who participate in both academic and co-curricular aspects.

Music forms a golden thread woven throughout the school’s life, with classroom work influencing performances in the concert hall and vice versa.

The curriculum is highly-academic, ambitious and wide-ranging, our examinations numbers strong, and students go onto undergraduate and postgraduate music at Oxford, Durham, Manchester, and Chicago universities.

In Year 7 and Year 8, all boys enjoy the opportunity to study music. With a generous allocation of two periods per week, even students with limited musical experience can catch up with their accomplished peers, fostering a supportive and inclusive learning environment.

The curriculum is project-based and boys are encouraged to sing, play acoustic instruments, and use sophisticated music technology to develop their skills and appreciation of all kinds of music.

We teach IGCSE Music, providing intellectual rigour suitable for our boys and preparing them for IB Music. Those who choose to pursue IGCSE Music are exposed to a diverse selection of music from various historical periods and world cultures, while also honing their practical musical abilities through performing and composing.

IB Music is the academic pinnacle of our school, its course-work-based approach meaning that boys can research, compose, perform, and write about their own musical enthusiasms. Recent work has ranged from composition in the style of Messiaen, through Latin American baroque music, through Bill Evans and Miles Davis, to John Adams, and Bela Bartók.

The IB course is an excellent vehicle to obtain academic accreditation for musical skills and is a thorough preparation for boys who wish to study the subject at university or a conservatoire.

Future careers

After undertaking a Music degree, boys pursue careers as performers and composers, as academic musicians and band members, or to undertake further study – in Britain and further afield.
IB Music and degrees in Music or with a musical component are increasingly taken by employers to mean that potential employees are creative, collaborative, as well as highly-organised and capable of working independently.

Beyond the classroom

Our musical life is enriched by visiting speakers, masterclasses, concert trips, and our close links with principal players of the CBSO, the Dante Quartet, and the Schubert Ensemble.

You can find out more about our rich musical programme of activities on the co-curricular music page.

Meet the Head of Department

Dr Leigh

Dr Leigh has been Director of Music at King Edward’s School since 2014. He holds degrees in music from the University of Cambridge and University of Nottingham, and wrote his PhD thesis on the music of Brahms under the supervision of Professor Robert Pascall. 

He is passionate about partnerships, knowing how much teachers and their pupils learn from working together, and plays a leading role in our work with local primary and preparatory schools. He is also a Trustee of Hillstone Primary School.

His first book, Becoming an Outstanding Music Teacher, was published in March 2022. In addition, he also writes about education for the national press and gardening for Hortus.

The first rehearsal for Stravinsky’s Firebird at King Edward’s School, Birmingham Performing Arts Centre on Tuesday 12 September 2023.

Meet the Head of Faculty (Arts)

Mrs Higgins

After studying Drama and Film at university, Mrs Higgins followed a career in film and TV production before retraining to teach Drama. She started her teaching career in London before moving to Devon with her husband to work in various grammar schools whilst also enjoying life by the sea. City life beckoned and she started working at King Edward’s School in 2015 which has allowed her maximum access to professional theatre, her passion. 

Alongside this, she has developed a career as a Senior Drama examiner and is a Governor at a school in the King Edward VI Foundation. She is particularly interested in boys’ education and enjoys exploring new developments in teaching to optimise the boys’ learning experience. She is delighted to work with such talented and creative people in the Faculty of Creative Arts. 

She regularly travels around the country at weekends to catch theatre productions and particularly enjoys new theatre. In her spare time, she has recently started an Olympic Weightlifting course.

Polly Higgins - Head of Creative Arts

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