The_Lonely_Goatherd
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Hi peeps,

It's the moment you've all been waiting for: TLG presents Oxford Demystified for music :awesome: :woo: :nutcase:

"Let's start at the very beginning: a very good place to start!"

(If you don't know what I'm quoting, you are dead to me :nothing: )


Q1. Why did you want to study your subject?

Ahhhh, the perennial question that people ask and that musos struggle to answer! :moon: I literally couldn’t see myself studying any other subject at uni, at that time. Music was pretty much my life and was one of my strongest subjects. I couldn’t think of anything better than immersing myself in a music degree for three years. Although music is not usually thought of as a vocation (like law or nursing, etc.), I had this strong gravitational pull towards it



Q2. Did any of your teachers inspire you? Or any other experts (e.g. TV presenter, etc.)?

I guess my mum was a big inspiration, as she was my piano teacher (which was my first instrument) from ages 3-18! As a child, I had been obsessed with a cartoon called ‘Sparky’s Magic Piano’. Our local library had a video cassette of it ( :shakecane: ) and my mum spent a small fortune’s worth in 50ps renting it out every few weeks because I wanted to watch it again Another cartoon I’d found fascinating as a child was the Tom and Jerry sketch where Tom is playing Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 and Jerry keeps getting in his way. Both these shows, as well as my mum’s job as a pianist, inspired me to take piano seriously and work hard at it (albeit nowhere near as hard as I should have!)



Q3. Why Oxford?

Ever since my older sister got into Oxford to read Biological Sciences in the year 2000, there was a familial expectation that I would apply and get into Oxbridge too. I wasn’t hugely interested initially but was just apply due to family pressure.

I looked at both courses and chose Oxford over Cambridge, because:
  • My UMS marks for my AS Levels were too low to secure a Cambridge interview :getmecoat:
  • The Cambridge course had a lot more focus on harmony and counterpoint, which was a weak point of mine :hand:
  • Cambridge had a lot of extra tests at the interview, which put me off! :afraid:


There was the added advantage that I vaguely knew Oxford city already. Plus there was more chance of becoming a Harry Potter film extra if I went to Oxford


Q4. How did you choose your college? Did you go to an open day and if so, did it help you to decide?

I started narrowing down colleges by

  • (a) Crossing off ones that don’t do music
  • (b) Crossing off one’s that were deemed a very long walk from the Faculty of Music :getmecoat:
  • (c) Looking at colleges that were offering three years’ accommodation :yeah:


My sister (who had progressed from her BA in Biological Sciences, onto a PhD) suggested that I should go to the Wadham open day, but they didn’t offer music. Upon hearing this, she thought I might like Worcester College. So I grudgingly signed up for a Worcester College open day and then a Faculty of Music open day (which would take place the week after).

These were the days before smartphones ( :shakecane: ) so when I got off the coach and tried to make my way to Worcester College, I got a bit lost. I was outside a really ugly college exterior and was like “this can’t be the college my sister recommended, surely? :erm: ” After asking some people hanging around outside, who confirmed that it was indeed Worcester College, I traipsed up to the main entrance and stepped inside, going past the Porter’s Lodge and into the ‘cloisters’ that are beneath the Lower Reading Room of the College library. Looking out onto the main quad, it was love at first sight :love:


The following week, I attended the Faculty of Music open day, which was very informative and another chance to speak to tutors and ask questions

I came away from both far more interested in applying to Oxford (rather than just applying coz my parents were making me)


Q5. Which resources did you use (please name as many as possible)? Which books/journals did you read? Which did you like best, and why? What did they teach you?

I did not read or refer to any books or journals in my application, as I didn’t realise other people did (For music at Oxbridge, you don’t have to have done any wider reading). An Oxford music student had used an excerpt from Nicholas Cook’s Music: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: OUP, 1998) in a mock interview with me, and recommended I read the book if possible. I didn’t understand it at all so very quickly gave up



Q6. Did you attend any lectures, or take part in any competitions? If so, would you recommend them, and why? Did you have any work experience? If so, how did you find it?

I was fortunate enough to be chosen for what was then the Sutton Trust Summer School with Oxford’s Faculty of Music in summer 2006 (i.e. summer between Years 12 and 13). This gave me a week staying at an Oxford college (Somerville, in my case), attending lectures by Oxford tutors and generally getting a sense of what being an Oxford student might be like. That was really the turning point for me, where I decided I really wanted to get in. It was also the first time I ever attended an opera! :awesome: I fell asleep in the first act, and I think the tutor accompanying us must have noticed, but she didn't say anything


Q7. Did you have a specialist subject/EPQ? What was it? How did you go about your research?


Nope! I wrote in my personal statement that I was looking forward to studying “world music” (cringe) and musical theatre, but I wouldn’t say either of those were very informed choices :P I’m not sure EPQs were a “thing” in my day, tbh :shakecane:


Q8. What did you mention in your personal statement and why?


I started by talking about the aforementioned Tom and Jerry cartoon and ended by quoting The Sound of Music. I don’t recommend doing either of these things, tbh Beyond that, I can’t remember what I talked about. It was mainly a list of performance-related experience



Q9. Which techniques did you use for the entrance test?


At the suggestion of the Worcester College music tutor, I practised Riemenschneider (or whatever it's called) Bach chorales for 3 months prior to the interview, so I could get my head around four-part harmony a bit better and improve my keyboard skills


Q10. How did you find the interview process? (NO INTERVIEW QUESTIONS PLEASE - this is against TSR guidelines)

I found the interview process mostly enjoyable! I hadn’t believed the whole “it’s a conversation, not an interview” rigmarole before I had my interviews, but it really was a lot more interesting, engaging and laidback than I was expecting. It helped that, in the case of my first-choice college interview at Woosta (Worcester), I’d been in that room before on the open day, so knew how to get there and what it looked like inside.

I had three interviews: first at St Anne’s (which I totally nailed – I could see the shock on the music tutor’s face when I got the analysis extract questions right!), second at Woosta (at which, I’m told, I was the best girl out of the bunch, so must have done something right), and the third at St Peter’s College but for a place at Teddy Hall. The St Anne’s one ended up being a cool discussion about issues raised in my personal statement (I’d mentioned having tabla lessons and the tutor wanted to know more). The Teddy Hall one ended up being entirely on my written work music essay, which they hadn’t been sent, so I talked them through it and that opened up a big discussion. The Woosta one was a mixture of everything!


Q11. How did you feel after the interviews?

After I came out of my Teddy Hall interview, I was convinced that if I’d had any chance at Oxford in the first place, that I’d completely blown it I felt it had gone atrociously. As it turned out, that tutor had really liked me – I just hadn’t realised that


Q12. Did you socialise during interview week? If so, what did you do?


I tried to socialise during the interviews but a lot of the other applicants (most notably the girls) were very snobby and stand-offish. None of those people got in though, and I did :awesome: So peeps, if you meeting ****ing snobs: stand your ground and stand tall! Such tossers rarely end up actually getting into Oxford!



Q15. Where were you when you got your offer? How did you react?


I had been out and came home late to find the envelope waiting for me! My dad was like “it’s thin and small – it’s a rejection”. I was very smug as I said, “actually, it’s an offer letter!” :smug:


TLG’s Top Tips

  • Always be yourself at the interviews and in the personal statement. If they don’t like you, then **** them – that’s the attitude you need to have :yep:
  • Don't be afraid of applying to competitive colleges, and don't let the competition at interviews faze you. I was up against the BBC Young Musician/Young Composer of the Year, Mark Simpson, but he didn't get in and I did :banana: :king1: :cool:
  • Re-read your personal statement and written work before you head to Oxford for your interviews. I’d recommend taking printed copies so that it’s all fresh in your memory
  • Think aloud and don’t be afraid of getting the answer wrong. Tutors are less interested in whether the answer is right, than the journey your mind went on to come to that conclusion
  • The performance test at interview is nothing to worry about: it’s just a formality. Oxford don’t care whether you’re a good performer or not :nah: So no need to get nervous!



Hope this helps someone out there!

TLG :musicus: :flute: :musicus:
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The_Lonely_Goatherd
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Oxford Mum : I finally did it! Better late than never
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Oxford Mum
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Hi The_Lonely_Goatherd, this was totally unexpected! I actually burst into tears when I saw this chapter in amongst my notifications. Don't know what I did to deserve this, but as Maria would have said "I must have done something good"!

I often say that the reason I love these chapters is they don't just tell you how one person got into Oxford, but you feel you are really meeting the person behind the applicant. It's like we are going through the process with you, and take note readers, it's not always plain sailing.

If you had posted on TSR at sixteen, telling me that you were applying to Oxford because your parents wanted you to, and your sister had got in for biological sciences, I would think "she's applying for the wrong reasons". But all along, you had the right reasons in your heart, you just didn't know it.

I mean this...

(excerpt from Sparky's magic piano)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=8Jo2iul54A4

and this: (THAT Tom and Jerry cartoon, which my children and I love, too)

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7tiofe

Right from a young age, you had a "feeling" for music. Many people who make it to Oxford have inspiration (one of them was capitvated by a roller coaster at Alton Towers, and ended up as an Oxford engineering student). If you have a passion for your subject and you are good academically, why not apply to Oxford?

Also you may have imagined that Oxford was stuffy, and boring, and hence it is for the stuffy and boring. You, TLG, have proved to us that is not the case. The tutors were presented with the young musician of the year, but the tutors thought outside the box and saw in you that massive potential and love of music that burned inside. This is why I always say, do not be intimidated by the other candidates. Just be yourself, and enjoy the interview as much as you can (sometimes that is hard, but you may as well go with the flow). Everyone thinks they have done badly, but you may be surprised by a place!

TLG you are right when you say the stand offish ones are not those who get the places. So readers, when you hear of Oxford being full of snobs and entitled people, you would be wrong in most cases. Oxford is full of surprises (mostly nice ones), so please don't judge Oxford by episodes of Lewis or Brideshead Revisited.

I, for example can remember lurking on the Student Room years ago, hoping it would help my two sons would get in. I can remember seeing the advice of a certain Lonely Goatherd and thinking, blimey, she's good, she is so much cleverer than me! However over the years, I have found that, like you, Oxford students are not lofty geniuses, but kind, helpful human beings, just like yourself.

:heart: Thank you for writing this, from me and from all the music applicants you will help in the future.
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username5420160
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(Original post by The_Lonely_Goatherd)
Hi peeps,

It's the moment you've all been waiting for: TLG presents Oxford Demystified for music :awesome: :woo: :nutcase:

"Let's start at the very beginning: a very good place to start!"

(If you don't know what I'm quoting, you are dead to me :nothing: )


Q1. Why did you want to study your subject?

Ahhhh, the perennial question that people ask and that musos struggle to answer! :moon: I literally couldn’t see myself studying any other subject at uni, at that time. Music was pretty much my life and was one of my strongest subjects. I couldn’t think of anything better than immersing myself in a music degree for three years. Although music is not usually thought of as a vocation (like law or nursing, etc.), I had this strong gravitational pull towards it



Q2. Did any of your teachers inspire you? Or any other experts (e.g. TV presenter, etc.)?

I guess my mum was a big inspiration, as she was my piano teacher (which was my first instrument) from ages 3-18! As a child, I had been obsessed with a cartoon called ‘Sparky’s Magic Piano’. Our local library had a video cassette of it ( :shakecane: ) and my mum spent a small fortune’s worth in 50ps renting it out every few weeks because I wanted to watch it again Another cartoon I’d found fascinating as a child was the Tom and Jerry sketch where Tom is playing Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 and Jerry keeps getting in his way. Both these shows, as well as my mum’s job as a pianist, inspired me to take piano seriously and work hard at it (albeit nowhere near as hard as I should have!)



Q3. Why Oxford?

Ever since my older sister got into Oxford to read Biological Sciences in the year 2000, there was a familial expectation that I would apply and get into Oxbridge too. I wasn’t hugely interested initially but was just apply due to family pressure.

I looked at both courses and chose Oxford over Cambridge, because:
  • My UMS marks for my AS Levels were too low to secure a Cambridge interview :getmecoat:
  • The Cambridge course had a lot more focus on harmony and counterpoint, which was a weak point of mine :hand:
  • Cambridge had a lot of extra tests at the interview, which put me off! :afraid:


There was the added advantage that I vaguely knew Oxford city already. Plus there was more chance of becoming a Harry Potter film extra if I went to Oxford


Q4. How did you choose your college? Did you go to an open day and if so, did it help you to decide?

I started narrowing down colleges by

  • (a) Crossing off ones that don’t do music
  • (b) Crossing off one’s that were deemed a very long walk from the Faculty of Music :getmecoat:
  • (c) Looking at colleges that were offering three years’ accommodation :yeah:


My sister (who had progressed from her BA in Biological Sciences, onto a PhD) suggested that I should go to the Wadham open day, but they didn’t offer music. Upon hearing this, she thought I might like Worcester College. So I grudgingly signed up for a Worcester College open day and then a Faculty of Music open day (which would take place the week after).

These were the days before smartphones ( :shakecane: ) so when I got off the coach and tried to make my way to Worcester College, I got a bit lost. I was outside a really ugly college exterior and was like “this can’t be the college my sister recommended, surely? :erm: ” After asking some people hanging around outside, who confirmed that it was indeed Worcester College, I traipsed up to the main entrance and stepped inside, going past the Porter’s Lodge and into the ‘cloisters’ that are beneath the Lower Reading Room of the College library. Looking out onto the main quad, it was love at first sight :love:


The following week, I attended the Faculty of Music open day, which was very informative and another chance to speak to tutors and ask questions

I came away from both far more interested in applying to Oxford (rather than just applying coz my parents were making me)


Q5. Which resources did you use (please name as many as possible)? Which books/journals did you read? Which did you like best, and why? What did they teach you?

I did not read or refer to any books or journals in my application, as I didn’t realise other people did (For music at Oxbridge, you don’t have to have done any wider reading). An Oxford music student had used an excerpt from Nicholas Cook’s Music: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: OUP, 1998) in a mock interview with me, and recommended I read the book if possible. I didn’t understand it at all so very quickly gave up



Q6. Did you attend any lectures, or take part in any competitions? If so, would you recommend them, and why? Did you have any work experience? If so, how did you find it?

I was fortunate enough to be chosen for what was then the Sutton Trust Summer School with Oxford’s Faculty of Music in summer 2006 (i.e. summer between Years 12 and 13). This gave me a week staying at an Oxford college (Somerville, in my case), attending lectures by Oxford tutors and generally getting a sense of what being an Oxford student might be like. That was really the turning point for me, where I decided I really wanted to get in. It was also the first time I ever attended an opera! :awesome: I fell asleep in the first act, and I think the tutor accompanying us must have noticed, but she didn't say anything


Q7. Did you have a specialist subject/EPQ? What was it? How did you go about your research?


Nope! I wrote in my personal statement that I was looking forward to studying “world music” (cringe) and musical theatre, but I wouldn’t say either of those were very informed choices :P I’m not sure EPQs were a “thing” in my day, tbh :shakecane:


Q8. What did you mention in your personal statement and why?


I started by talking about the aforementioned Tom and Jerry cartoon and ended by quoting The Sound of Music. I don’t recommend doing either of these things, tbh Beyond that, I can’t remember what I talked about. It was mainly a list of performance-related experience



Q9. Which techniques did you use for the entrance test?


At the suggestion of the Worcester College music tutor, I practised Riemenschneider (or whatever it's called) Bach chorales for 3 months prior to the interview, so I could get my head around four-part harmony a bit better and improve my keyboard skills


Q10. How did you find the interview process? (NO INTERVIEW QUESTIONS PLEASE - this is against TSR guidelines)

I found the interview process mostly enjoyable! I hadn’t believed the whole “it’s a conversation, not an interview” rigmarole before I had my interviews, but it really was a lot more interesting, engaging and laidback than I was expecting. It helped that, in the case of my first-choice college interview at Woosta (Worcester), I’d been in that room before on the open day, so knew how to get there and what it looked like inside.

I had three interviews: first at St Anne’s (which I totally nailed – I could see the shock on the music tutor’s face when I got the analysis extract questions right!), second at Woosta (at which, I’m told, I was the best girl out of the bunch, so must have done something right), and the third at St Peter’s College but for a place at Teddy Hall. The St Anne’s one ended up being a cool discussion about issues raised in my personal statement (I’d mentioned having tabla lessons and the tutor wanted to know more). The Teddy Hall one ended up being entirely on my written work music essay, which they hadn’t been sent, so I talked them through it and that opened up a big discussion. The Woosta one was a mixture of everything!


Q11. How did you feel after the interviews?

After I came out of my Teddy Hall interview, I was convinced that if I’d had any chance at Oxford in the first place, that I’d completely blown it I felt it had gone atrociously. As it turned out, that tutor had really liked me – I just hadn’t realised that


Q12. Did you socialise during interview week? If so, what did you do?


I tried to socialise during the interviews but a lot of the other applicants (most notably the girls) were very snobby and stand-offish. None of those people got in though, and I did :awesome: So peeps, if you meeting ****ing snobs: stand your ground and stand tall! Such tossers rarely end up actually getting into Oxford!



Q15. Where were you when you got your offer? How did you react?


I had been out and came home late to find the envelope waiting for me! My dad was like “it’s thin and small – it’s a rejection”. I was very smug as I said, “actually, it’s an offer letter!” :smug:


TLG’s Top Tips

  • Always be yourself at the interviews and in the personal statement. If they don’t like you, then **** them – that’s the attitude you need to have :yep:
  • Don't be afraid of applying to competitive colleges, and don't let the competition at interviews faze you. I was up against the BBC Young Musician/Young Composer of the Year, Mark Simpson, but he didn't get in and I did :banana: :king1: :cool:
  • Re-read your personal statement and written work before you head to Oxford for your interviews. I’d recommend taking printed copies so that it’s all fresh in your memory
  • Think aloud and don’t be afraid of getting the answer wrong. Tutors are less interested in whether the answer is right, than the journey your mind went on to come to that conclusion
  • The performance test at interview is nothing to worry about: it’s just a formality. Oxford don’t care whether you’re a good performer or not :nah: So no need to get nervous!



Hope this helps someone out there!

TLG :musicus: :flute: :musicus:
I'm not even looking to study music at Oxford or at all but, THIS WAS AMAZING! This really made day reading this thank you so much spending time writing this! :proud:
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harrysbar
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Thank you for writing this TLG, it will help lots of students in the future

I also fell asleep during my first opera but the difference is I was in my forties :getmecoat:
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Oxford Mum
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Other resources:

Oxford music course page

https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/unde...-listing/music

Sample Oxford Music questions

https://sites.google.com/site/oxbrid...uestions/music

http://www.oxfordinterviewquestions....estions/music/

interview experiences:

http://apply.oxfordsu.org/courses/music/interviews/

https://www.oxbridgeessays.com/blog/...nswered-music/

Music performance test:

https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/unde...sts/music-test

https://tavistocktutors.com/blog/int...ord-university

Music course youtube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrkmbquwMBQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yt1ezmUwJzw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsFha8P3XNY
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Oxford Mum
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(Original post by harrysbar)
Thank you for writing this TLG, it will help lots of students in the future

I also fell asleep during my first opera but the difference is I was in my forties :getmecoat:
I love opera (inspired by my opera mad kids). I only fall asleep at football matches (much to the annoyance of an ex boyfriend)
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Oxford Mum
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(Original post by Imhere2help)
I'm not even looking to study music at Oxford or at all but, THIS WAS AMAZING! This really made day reading this thank you so much spending time writing this! :proud:
And so say all of us..
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laurawatt
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This is great, TLG! Thank you so much
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username5420160
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Thank you for this🙏.
Have a wonderful day!
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The_Lonely_Goatherd
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Thanks for the feedback so far, everyone! Sorry for the late responses - laptop malfunctioned and I don't like typing out replies on the app

If there are any questions applicants have or things that people feel would also be useful to know about, please do let me know! I will be adding things to my 'Top Tips' as they occur to me and am happy to amend the OP to suit applicants' needs

(Original post by harrysbar)
Thank you for writing this TLG, it will help lots of students in the future

I also fell asleep during my first opera but the difference is I was in my forties :getmecoat:
There's something about operas that just brings out the sleepiness in me, even today! Clearly this happens to all the best people :five:
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nmah
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Woohoo! The_Lonely_Goatherd I always love a new chapter and this one was great
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OxFossil
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In case anyone's interested, the St Peter's Clllege Music Society has organised a short series of lunchtime concerts, featuring UGs performing various things. The first is today, here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dp2e...ature=youtu.be
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