Oxford Music: Tips & Questions for Interview

5 min read
Oxford music interview
Oxford Music

In this article we will guide you on how to best prepare for your Oxford Music Interview. This includes guides on past Oxford Music questions, interview tips, mock examples. Additionally, check out real experiences from students who have sat the interview.

This article has been made from a collection of accounts from Oxbridge applicants.

Watch this official video about what to expect about the Music course at Oxford

What is the interview structure?

The Oxford Music Interviews operate slightly differently with most interviewees being required to sit a minimum of 4 interviews. Depending on what course you apply for, your interview may also include a harmony test and/or an instrumental audition. 

What are the Oxford Music interview dates?

The Oxford Music interviews are expected to take place in the first week of December.

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Example Past Questions from Oxford Music interview

  • If you could invent a new musical instrumental, what kind of sound would it make?
  • Why has music developed the way it has?
  • Which venue do you most like to play in acoustically?
  • How had the piano developed by the time of Beethoven?
  • How is music related to free will?
  • Why haven’t there been many French operas?
  • If you were sent to a desert island to study composition, which 3 composer’s works would you take with you and why?
  • Questions related to materials that were provided to study. (including extracts from music history, musicology texts, musical scores and newspaper articles concerning social issues in music)
  • How have Wagner’s operas influenced the history of Western music?
  • Consider Girls Aloud and football anthems with reference to functionality of music 
  • How do you think the current economic climate will affect music?
  • What would your desert island disc be?
  • How are Vivaldi’s ritornellos different from Bach’s ritornellos?
  • If you could invent a new musical instrument, what kind of sound would it make?
  • Writing about music is like dancing about architecture. Discuss the following
  • Do you feel that music is an art incomparable to history because history cannot be performed?
Free Oxbridge Interview Scenarios

    Insider Guides: Oxford Music interview

    What happened on the day of your Oxford Music interview?
    My interview started off with a general question about why I wanted to study music. This was followed by a few questions relating to my personal statement. The rest of the time in my interview was spent talking about an article, a piece or analysing musical scores. It was a lot more relaxed than I expected and it seemed like the interviewers just wanted you to be yourself and do your best. 

    What do you have to bring to your interview?
    Dress code does not matter at all. The tutors are interested in what you say, not what you look like! However, semi-formal is definitely the way to go. For my Oxford Music Interview, I was advised to also bring a pen to analyse any music extracts that were presented to me. If you have an audition, you will need to carry along your required instrument as well. 

    What is the Oxford Music interview setting and how long is it?
    All my Interviews took place in person. Before most interviewers, the college will provide you with materials to study for 30 minutes before the interview. Your interview lasts for around 30 minutes, which includes questions about, the texts given such as your opinion on the musicological extracts or when I thought a score had been written. 

    Other interview questions included asking me to justify the opinions stated in my personal statement and working out the period, style and purpose of music by ear. The harmony test comprised of sightreading a short, simple piano extract written with one hand in an unusual clef and also examining the use of harmony in a short score choral piece. .

    What are the interviewers like?

    My interviews had a variety of interviewers – some were very friendly and warm whereas others were quite hard to read. The follow-up questions felt very free-flowing and conversational and were often based on what my previous answers were. Keep in mind that your interviewers will also know far more about your subject than yourself and will keep questioning you until you don’t know how to answer. Don’t be afraid to admit if you are wrong! Whatever happens, do not try to bluff the interviewers as they will know if you have no idea what you are talking about.

    Are there any academic or challenging Music questions at the Oxford interview?

    For my Interview, I would say the challenging questions were those that required me to critically think and analyse the pieces of music that were presented to me, for example: “When do you think this piece of music was written?”

    I also had a few questions based on my personal statement so I would definitely recommend reading academic literature around the topics you mention in your essay. 

    Are there any personality, work experience or extracurricular based Music questions at the Oxford Interview?

    There were no such questions in my interviews.

    Top Tips for the Oxford Music Interview 

    • Read your personal statement: Knowing your personal statement in and out allows you to be prepared to answer any questions your interviewers might ask in relation to the topics you have touched upon in your essay. This could be certain musicians, composers, instruments, pieces of music or significant moments in music history that you have mentioned. 
    • Do not try and predict the pieces you will be given to analyse: While the analysing task might seem quite daunting, the texts that you receive to prepare before your interview will be quite unexpected or absurd even. Don’t let the weirdness of any of the sources get to you. Remember to form an opinion for each aspect of the piece of music to defend your source. 
    • Practice talking to other people: Expose yourself to new pieces of music and practise analysing them and speaking your answers out loud. This will give you the opportunity to discuss your ideas and easily put your thoughts into words. It will also work in your favour to simultaneously build up your confidence!
    • Don’t rush your answers: When asked a question in your interview, take a moment to think about how you want to approach the answer. Try not to rush your thinking process and focus on explaining your thought process out loud to your interviews. Remember, they are not looking for your extended musical knowledge but rather your ability to critically arrive at an answer. 
    • Understand your musical specialty: Understand where your musical specialty fits into different histories and theories of music so you are prepared to ask any questions around it as well.

    Top Tips for the “Why Oxford” interview question

    1. Research Oxford and think about why you really want to go there – this cannot be simply because it is one of the world’s top universities. You should also find something unique or rare about Oxford that makes you want to study there.
    2. You must also think about your specific subject. For Music, you should research the various courses on offer, making sure to have a few in mind which you would love to come to Oxford to study.

    My Favourite Things about Studying Music at Oxford University
    My favourite thing about studying Music at Oxford University is the environment that is created by being in such a reputable education centre. Having the opportunity to access some of the best music resources in the world whilst diving deeper into the subject I am passionate about has been the experience of a lifetime. All the faculty are so passionate and full of ideas and creativity is always encouraged by the course structure.

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