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Medlink advise students "don't take A Level music"

Discussion in 'Music' started by Rockmeamadeus, Feb 2, 2011.

  1. I have three students who want to be either doctors or vets in Year 11. They went on some conference with an organisation called Med Link and have come back saying they have been advised to "avoid soft subjects such as music" as these will adversely affect their applications.
    Has anyone else heard of this?
  2. Fairly obvious, as applicants for medicine usually need three sciences and there is only so much time in the curriculum. I include maths as a science here, and even biology is seen as a "soft" subject in comparison with maths. If you want to apply for medicine, you are very constrained in all other areas of life.
  3. Don't take it personally! I don't think they have it in for musicians in particular!
  4. I must say this surprises me, since we all know A Level music to be very academically rigorous. I have heard in the past that they discourage some A levels such as drama / theatre Studies, film studies and media, but not music.
    I have had several music A Level students go on to medical school over the last few years, and the music was seen as a good balance to their other courses which were, naturally, science based. Having said that, I have not taught A Level in the last couple of years, since my present school has no 6th Form. I would be sorry to hear that it is discouraged.
  5. I would add that when I was growing up in Oxford (some years ago, admittedly!), the Oxford Medical School had enough musicians to raise it's own Choir and Orchestra!
  6. There are lots of subjects that are "academically rigorous" but not much directly to do with medicine. If you are applying for medical school, do you want to take a chance?
  7. I think it's quite likely that those Oxford musicians learned to play through private lessons from an ealry age and were relatively unlikley to have a music A level.
  8. I'm not sure that's true, I'ce sent pupils off to do Medicine, Law and Dentistry with A level Music, it's often the thing they get asked most about.
  9. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    I think the problem is that there are still some institutions (including a number of Cambridge colleges) that express a preference for three science/maths A levels to read medicine. There are plenty of medical schools that don't express this preference, but there is thus pressure on kids to keep to the science/maths route if they want to maximise their entry choices (or to take music as a 4th A level, of course).
  10. http://www.bma.org.uk/images/qualificationstable_tcm41-199525.pdf

    Here's a handy table of recent minimum entry requirements for medical school compiled by the BMA. Note that most require two science based subjects, but these are only minimum requirements, and only one university actually specifies that a third A level should be in a subject that is not a science.
    The subjects regarded as particularly "soft" or otherwise unacceptable seem to be General studies and Critical thinking. Strange, that last one - or is it? Music doesn't get a specific mention either way.
  11. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-12365050

    It appears we're not on the list thus making us a "soft" subject.

    Anyone else feel like music is being targeted. Still no Henley report........
  12. I read this differently, Music is not on the list of facilitating subjects but not on the list of 'vocational subjects' which I assumed are the soft subjects. This makes Music one of the other subjects that students should do after they have done to 2 facilitating subjects!

    However do still feel Music (amongst other subjects) is being targeted!
  13. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    Yes, I agree with Aliscoot125's reading. The trouble is that music is always going to be at a disadvantage in the academic stakes because of the very high proportion of practical work.
    When I started teaching (back in the dark ages) we could make a good case for A-level music being an academic subject, as everything involved externally-examined written work. Performing was merely a hurdle (a pass at grade 7 was needed to enter for the subject, but didn't contribute to the marks) and free composition was an optional extra that attracted no marks, but that could pull a candidate on the borderline up to the next grade if of sufficient merit.
    Those days are long gone, but when performing and composing started to replace much of the written work in the 1980s, many of us made the point that this would lead to the demotion of music as an academic subject in the eyes of universities and employers. Few took much notice. [​IMG]

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