Bruce Cole
Fellow in Community Music



Bruce Cole was born in London in 1947 and studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music with Sir Harrison Birtwistle. His works have been commissioned and performed by the Fires of London, London Sinfonietta, Scottish National Orchestra, Gemini, and the Royal Choral Society. He has worked extensively in education and the community, having held two residencies in London schools.

In 1981 he established The Lewisham Academy of Music, a resource centre for young people in South East London. In 1995 he led the BBC Proms education project which included training members of the BBC Symphony Orchestra for work in schools and developing an accredited training programme.

In 1996 he joined the national examination board Edexcel as Principal Examiner in composition, undertaking teacher and examiner training. Before being appointed as Chief Examiner in 2004 he served as a scrutineer and adviser to the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and was also appointed Chief Examiner for Music Technology in 2006.

He has also composed for television and the theatre. He has been musical director to two circus companies and from 1982-86 he was musical director at the Albany Empire in London, working with youth theatre groups as well as in cabaret with comedians Tommy Cooper and Keith Allen and directing a musical with the rock band Squeeze. His film and television credits include the Julie Walter's film Unfair Exchanges, three BBC drama series and the musical Shock Opera which won a BISTA award.

In 1986 he was appointed Fellow in Community Music at the University of York where he has been responsible for undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, developing outreach work with students including disability arts, placements with the education departments of orchestras and rehabilitation work with young offenders. He has also been external examiner and consultant in community arts to Manchester Metropolitan University, the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, the University of Limerick, and the Goldmiths College (London), and in 1999 contributed a strategy study to the HEFCE Professional Integration Project.

Departmental roles

  • MA in Music in the Community Board of Examiners


Selected publications

  • Cole, B, The Pop Composer's Handbook (Schott, 2006)
  • Cole, B, (with Bowman, D, Burnett, M, and Burton, I) A Student's Guide to GCSE Music (Rhinegold, 2002)
  • Cole, B, (with Collyer, A, Howard, D, Hunt, A, and Murphy, D) A Student Guide to Music Technology (Rhinegold, 2002)
  • Cole, B The Composer's Handbook (Schott, 1996)
  • Cole, B (with Bowman, D) Sound Matters (Schott, 1989)
  • The Contemporary Composer's Handbook (Schott, due for publication in Autumn 2009)
  • GCSE: Introducing Ballad Songwriting through the music of Elton John (Classroom Music - Vol 3 Issue 3, Rhinegold, 2006)
  • AS Edexcel: Popular Music and Jazz (Classroom Music - Vol 2 Issue 4, Rhinegold, 2005)
  • Music, Technology and the Young Offender: a model for drug rehabilitation, (National Association of Music Educators, 2001 National Conference report)
  • Composition at GCSE and A Level, A Classroom Guide to Composition (Rhinegold, 1999)
  • Work (HEFCE Professional Integration Project, Royal College of Music, 1999)
  • Community Music and Higher Education: a marriage of convenience, Making Music
    MIDI and Communality, Organised Sound (Vol 1, 1996)



  • Music and the Community



  • Music in the Community
Bruce Cole

Contact details

Bruce Cole
Department of Music
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: +44 (0)1904 32 4693