Musical Progression

Diagram showing the skeleton strategy for creating environments for musical progression

Musical progression is about moving forward with or getting better at music. Students will progress in their musical learning in a number of ways, depending on their interests and goals.  We have mapped how a typical child might engage with music as they grow up in our document, which sets out the types of musical activities they might choose to participate in from 3 to 18 years of age - A Child's Musical Journey.  

Resources to Support Progression

Youth Music have developed a guidance document around progression – ‘Supporting all children’s progression

Awards for Young Musicians have created a series of films to help music leaders to support musical progression - Practical Progression as well as resources to Spot Musical Potential

A framework for progression - a framework to help teachers plan for musical progress


Children in a samba workshop

First Access - Free Introduction to Learning an Instrument

Part of the Government’s National Plan for Music is the provision of free instrumental taster sessions in a programme called ‘First Access’ for all. The Cornwall Music Education Hub is working with schools across Cornwall to offer all children in Key Stages 1-3 the First Access - whole class introduction to instrumental learning.

There may be other opportunities for young people to get involved with music, such as through sessions at a local youth centre or community brass band or choir (some of which are specifically for young people).

Instrumental and Vocal Tuition

Following taster sessions, instrumental demonstrations or a term of First Access (whole class instrumental learning), students are able to take up learning an instrument at their school through lessons which are paid for by parents. Parents interested in signing up for instrumental or lessons should speak to their school secretary to find out what lessons are available and the costs.

Children's choir on stage next to a microphone

Ensembles and Choirs

Learning to play an instrument or to sing alongside their peers is an excellent way of supporting musical progression. Many schools and colleges have their own ensembles, bands and choirs, and there are also community-based groups. In addition, the Cornwall Music Education Hub has its own network of ensembles which provide performance opportunities for young people of different levels. Information about these can be found on the Ensembles page of the Hub website. The Hub works with its partners to offer regular performance opportunities to children and young people in Cornwall.

Music Grades

Many students choose to undertake music grade exams as they provide a focus and aim for their musical learning. Undertaking music grade exams is not essential but is useful for students who would like to join a higher level orchestra or study for a music degree.

The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) and Trinity offer graded exams, from beginner at Grade 1 to top-notch Grade 8 on 35 different instruments, plus Music Theory. Students can learn at their own pace with their own teacher and do not need to attend a special school. Exams are held approximately three times a year at locations all over the country.

ABRSM also offer a scheme called Music Medals for younger learners. Music Medals are different from Graded Music Exams in that there are no external examiners involved and the initial assessment is made by the student’s own teacher. All assessments are video recorded and submitted to the ABRSM for moderation.

Studying Music

GCSE Music

GCSE Music helps students to develop subject knowledge, understanding and skills, through listening to a variety of music, playing music and creating their own music and is offered by a number of different boards at secondary schools.  The most popular boards are:

Further Education 

A Level

Music A-Level is generally a requirement for all Music courses at university and also represents a well-respected subject alongside other options for students not considering a music degree. It encompasses performance, listening and analysis, composition and elements of harmony, and opens up new areas of the subject which are not covered at GCSE.

AS and A2 level Music can be studied at a local college or sixth form. Music Technology can also be studied at this level.

BTEC Qualifications

General and specialist music qualifications at different levels.

Higher Education

BTEC Higher National Certificates and Diplomas and Professional Qualifications

Local colleges and universities

dBs Music logo

dBs Music

Based in Plymouth and Bristol, dBs Music offers courses in the following areas:

Falmouth University logo

Falmouth University

Established at Falmouth in 2010, following a merger with the internationally renowned Dartington College of Arts, The Academy of Music and Theatre Arts is housed in the University’s Performance Centre. The Academy offers:

Truro College and Penwith College logos

Truro & Penwith College

A long established music department which offers a breadth of learning opportunities at different levels:

Music Career Information

There are many websites which have information about music related careers:

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