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How do I apply?

How To Apply

The first stage in applying to Chetham's School of Music is to complete an application form – which you can download from here.

Chetham's welcomes national and international applications and holds auditions right through the academic year - but we encourage you to apply early, ideally before Christmas for a place for the following September.

Advice Auditions are also available all year around and are for musicians who would like professional feedback on their playing and musical ability, but do not necessarily want to apply for a place at Chetham's.

Open Days take place annually in October. Details will be announced on the website closer to the Open Day.

What happens next?

Once the form is received, the Director of Music and Head of the relevant Instrumental Department (i.e. if you play the violin, the Head of Strings) will carefully consider the application and gauge whether you’re ready for an audition. If you do not receive an invitation to audition at this stage, we will write to you and offer advice on areas to develop towards possibly securing an audition in the future.

The audition process

There are two stages in the audition process - stage one is the Assessment Audition and stage two is the Main Audition.

Stage one

The Assessment Audition lasts 20-30 minutes with the Head of the relevant Instrumental Department. You are asked to prepare two contrasting pieces of music which best demonstrate your current musical ability on your principal instrument and one piece on your second instrument, if you have one. In the audition, we look for the following qualities:

  • Musicianship - your ability to deal fluently with practical music issues. This may include questions on key, rhythm, dynamics and other aspects of interpretation.
  • Aural awareness - your ability to understand and identify musical sounds and patterns. This will include an ear test, mainly through singing, and will include pitching intervals, short melodies, answering phrases, rhythms and simple chord recognition.
  • Creativity / musicality - we look for natural 'spark' and spontaneity.
  • Technique - your instrumental skills including awareness of quality of sound, intonation and especially rhythmic precision. You will also be asked to play scales at the appropriate level – if scales have not been part of your instrumental learning to date then just let us know; absence of scales does not affect applications.
  • Literacy - your ability to sight-read (a short piece will be given) and your ability to understand and discuss music - we’ll ask you about your audition programme.
  • Musical personality & potential - we highly value these qualities. We are looking for strength of character, dedication, enthusiasm, individuality and musical potential.

After the Assessment Audition, you'll receive a letter informing you whether you are invited to stage two of the audition process. If not, we can provide constructive feedback designed to help your future musical development, or possibly ask you to re-audition at a later date. If you are invited back, we may ask you to work on specific areas so that we can gauge your response and progress (e.g. try to improve scales, sight reading or rhythmic security).

Stage two

If you are offered a Main Audition, we'll ask you to prepare and develop specific areas based on what we heard at the Assessment Audition. You and your parents will also meet the Head and have a tour of Chetham's, usually given by one of the Sixth Form students. After the Main Audition, you may be offered a place at Chetham's for the following September, or you may be held on the reserve list, or invited to re-audition at a later date. If you are not offered a place, we will be happy to provide constructive feedback designed to help your future musical development.

Entry requirements

Age: Chetham's welcomes applications from musicians, aged 8 - 18.

Musical ability: Chetham's is looking for musical potential, which we consider to be far more significant than exam results. In the application stages, we are looking for evidence of skill, potential, passion and commitment to playing a musical instrument - grades and exam results are not essential entry requirements.

Instrument: Chetham's welcomes applications for all instruments of principle study except electronic instruments (guitars/keyboards) and non-western instruments - we can however offer advice in these areas so that musical potential can be assessed and the possibility considered of auditioning for a comparable orchestral instrument or piano.

Other requirements: It's desirable for students interested in Sixth Form entry to have passed Grade 5 Theory. Please note, vocalists will only be considered for entry to the Sixth Form, unless under exceptional circumstances. We advise all applicants to be involved in a wide range of musical activities, e.g. Do you sing in your school or local choir? Compose or play in the local orchestra?

Applying from abroad

If you live abroad and distance makes it impossible for you to visit Chetham's for an audition, DVD and video performances are accepted, which should be accompanied by a completed application form and further information about you, including a reference from your principal study music teacher. Although admission is purely on musical potential and there are no academic entry requirements, it is important that Chetham’s can provide a suitable course for your needs, both academically and musically. Please let us know your current educational achievements and the subjects you would like to study at Chetham's. Evidence of fluency in both written and spoken English is also required.

Overseas students and visas

If you are a non-UK or non-EU student, it is likely that you will need to have a visa to study at Chetham’s.  The up to date information on studying in the UK is to be found on the UK Border Agency website www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk

The School is a Highly Trusted Sponsor and if you are eligible we will be able to provide a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies sponsorship number for you to use when applying for your visa. 

If you are aged up to and including 15 you will have to apply for a visa under Tier 4 (Child).  This also applies if you are 16 or 17 but will be primarily studying at GCSE level.

If you are 16 or 17 and will be studying A levels you can choose whether to apply under Tier 4 (Child) or Tier 4 (General).

If you are 18 you must apply under Tier 4 (General).

English Language skills

For prospective students who will be applying under Tier 4 (General) please note that students must be able to demonstrate competency in English language and they must be at or above CEFR level B1.  For more information please visit the UK Border Agency website or contact the School.