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Bruce Cole
Fellow in Community Music



Bruce Cole studied composition with Sir Harrison Birtwistle at the Royal Academy of Music and has maintained a portfolio career as a composer, teacher and community musician.

His work has varied widely; from the concert hall (London Sinfonietta, Scottish National Orchestra), the education departments of the national orchestras (BBC Symphony Orchestra, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group) rock music
(Rolling Stones, Squeeze) and reggae (Dub Judah, Jah Foundation). He has been musical director of two circus companies and from 1982-86 was musical director at the Albany Empire in London, working on in-house shows as well as in cabaret with comedians Tommy Cooper and Keith Allen. Film and television credits include the Julie Walter's film Unfair Exchanges, three BBC drama series and the award-winning youth musical Shock Opera.

He has taught at most levels from pre-school to postgraduate including special educational needs, two residencies in London schools and broadcasting as co-presenter of the BBC Radio 3 education series Music Now. He has developed a special interest in youth work and in the education of offenders and ex-offenders. In the 1980s he established the Lewisham Academy of Music as a resource centre for young people in South London and has more recently run a series of educational projects in a number of prisons and secure institutions as well as serving as a trustee of the prison education charity Good Vibrations.

In 1996 he joined the national examination board Edexcel as Principal Examiner in composition. Before being appointed Chief Examiner for Music in 2004 and Chief Examiner for Music Technology in 2006 he served as a scrutineer and adviser to the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and has trained teachers in the UK, Ireland, Greece, Japan, Dubai and Kenya.

He is currently Fellow in Community Music at the University of York, where he is responsible for programmes of work with undergraduate and postgraduate students and teachers in schools and other community settings and has been external examiner and consultant in community arts to the Goldmiths College (London), LIPA and the universities of Huddersfield, Limerick, Manchester, Sunderland, and York St John.

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