Music at The Pilgrims’ School is an exceptional strength. It informs so much of all that we do during our school day, and it resonates even with the Pilgrims who do not sing or play. We inspire an understanding and appreciation of music in every boy, which he will find invaluable for the rest of his life.

OUr Choirs

As a double choir school, singing is as natural as breathing for many of the boys. The two professional choirs of the Cathedral and the College engage the talents of 38 Pilgrims but an additional five school choirs, including one in the Pre-Prep, provide an outlet for the singers who are not Choristers or Quiristers.

Instrumental tuition

Not surprisingly, perhaps, there are more instrumental lessons each week than there are boys in the school! A dedicated team of 27 visiting music teachers offers teaching on the full range of orchestral instruments, in addition to piano, organ, guitar, lute and voice. Music lessons are arranged on a rota basis so that disruption to lessons is kept to a minimum, ensuring that we preserve the balance of academics, sport and music (and free time!) for each boy. The boys in Year 2 of the Pre-Prep all learn to play the recorder and many of them also play in the strings group; one or two may also receive individual instrumental tuition, although for the majority this will follow later.


Music practice rooms, including a sound proofed suite with recording facilities are mostly located in the music block, but there are numerous pianos, including 3 grands, dotted all around the school. All boarders are allocated practising slots, which are timetabled to avoid conflict with any other distraction and are supervised by the music staff.

Performance opportunities

Practising in isolation is one thing, but the stimulus of group music making is key to a successful musician – it’s also much more fun! Performing starts in the Pre-Prep and by the senior years, over half of the boys play in the orchestra, which tackles sophisticated repertoire usually encountered at senior school. We give at least twelve concerts each year, ranging from the formal to the extremely informal. Chamber music is greatly encouraged and music is specially arranged for any especially ad hoc combinations that may arise when friends decide to pool their resources!

Class music lessons

From Reception to Year 8 all boys have timetabled class music lessons each week. We aim to equip each boy with the tools to unlock a deeper understanding of the subject, irrespective of his musical ability. Composition is crucial, both in terms of inspiring creativity and also as a stimulus to musical appreciation.

Music exams and scholarships

Graded music exam results are consistently high; the majority of grades awarded will be distinctions or high merits. A good number of boys will attain Grade 5+ each year and will have passed their Grade 5 theory. Our aim is musicianship, however, and while grades are important, depth and breadth of repertoire are key. We have an enviable record in securing music awards to senior schools, and a significant number of Pilgrims go on to read music at university, many as a choral scholar at either Oxford or Cambridge.

Our ensembles

  • Pre-Prep Choir
  • Pre-Prep Strings & Recorders
  • Junior Strings
  • Junior Band
  • Junior Orchestra
  • Junior Choir
  • Guitar Ensemble
  • Woodwind Ensemble
  • Big Band
  • Baroque Ensemble
  • Orchestra