A-Level: A*AA; IB: 40 - 42 points, 7, 7, 6 at Higher Level
Robinson College has a thriving musical life involving a wide range of students, a regular concert series each term, an excellent chapel choir, as well as a variety of orchestral and choral concerts, a rock band, musicals, and much more. Recent performances at Robinson have included Duruflé's Requiem, two of Bach’s Brandenburg concertos, Schumann’s Piano Quartet and a new symphony by a current Robinson student. The Chapel is a beautiful place for performing and listening to music, and contains one of the finest organs in Cambridge (a Frobenius) as well as a superb Steinway piano, a Rubio harpsichord and a Renaissance-style chamber organ. There are practice rooms and a recital room, a drum kit, and students reading Music are provided with pianos or electric pianos in their rooms. The college is also highly unusual in having a fully equipped purpose-built theatre. Finally, Robinson is extremely close to the Music Faculty, which has its advantages in terms of getting to 9am lectures!
If you come to Cambridge to read music, the courses that you can take each year are the same whichever college you are in, and all the lectures and end-of-year exams are organised centrally by the Music Faculty. However, most of the actual work you do is organised by the Director of Studies at your college. This includes the small-group weekly tutorials (called 'supervisions') in which each student's work is individually discussed, and which can vary in style from one college to another.
The music course has just been revised and now reflects a wider range of ways to approach music – and a greater variety of kinds of music from around the world – than ever before. In all three years there are options for students may choose to study performance on an instrument or voice, to learn and develop their skills in composition, to study music in its historical and social contexts – from plainchant to hiphop, from Monteverdi to Macmillan – to learn and refine basic techniques of Western harmony and counterpoint, to study the psychology of music perception, the aesthetics of music (and much more...)
Essential: Music at A Level or IB Higher Level, or a distinction in ABRSM Grade 8 Theory.
Highly Desirable: No other particular subject is required. Students from a science background should continue to practice their essay-writing skills.
Applicants are asked to submit some school coursework in advance of their interview; one or two essays (on music and/or other humanities subjects such as History, English, Politics) and one or two harmony exercises or compositions (whether pastiche or original).
Written assessment: Cambridge College registered
Director(s) of Studies - Dr Jeremy Thurlow
We have a distinguished senior member who contributes to the musical life of the college:
Professor John Rink heads the Faculty’s new Research Centre devoted to the study and practice of musical performance (CMPCP) and often teaches Robinson students in related courses.
Music - Further Questions
What kind of preparation can I do for Music at Robinson?
Applicants should be the kind of people who play, sing and listen to music whenever possible, not just in the background, but really getting to know it. They should be interested to find out about music from a range of different periods and to fill gaps in their knowledge by exploring in their own time, for pleasure.
My A Level syllabus doesn’t include much training in harmony and counterpoint or aural skills. Does this matter?
At Robinson we are aware that A Level syllabuses vary widely in content, and therefore we are aware that many applicants may have had little or no training in harmony and counterpoint or aural skills. We ask applicants to prepare themselves as best they can to harmonise a chorale melody and write a few bars of two-part writing (melody and bass), but we make every effort to take into consideration what kind of preparation they have had for this. Applicants are also recommended to practise playing simple cadences at the piano and recognising simple intervals and cadences by ear. But above all, they should play and listen to lots of music, and find out everything they can about it.
Faculty of Music website – Prospective student information
Music (Information from the Cambridge Admissions website)
For incoming 1st year students, the following reading list will be helpful: Music Reading List
Last updated September 2022