Music Tuition Sept 2023 - Aug 2024

Every student has the opportunity to learn an instrument whilst at Thurstable. Lessons are offered in flute, clarinet, saxophone, violin, cello, trumpet, trombone, piano, electric and acoustic guitar,  bass guitar, drum kit, singing and rap.  For more information please see parent letter above giving more information.  If you have any queries please do contact Mrs Thomson Head of Music on

Creative Arts Events

The Music Department at Thurstable School is a busy, exciting place.  We have a high uptake of students taking GCSE, A level Music and A level Music Technology and all our students have weekly lessons at KS3. Many students are involved in extra-curricular ensembles, concerts,  school productions and instrumental lessons.  In recognition of the value that we place on music in Thurstable School and our commitment to a broad and balanced curriculum and a high quality music education for all children we have been designated a Music Mark School nominated by Essex Music Hub. We are one of only ten schools in the UK who have been made a Musical Futures Music Technology Champion School because of our innovative way of incorporating music technology into our curriculum.

Department Staff

Mrs S Thomson - Head of Music

Mrs C Hynd - Music Teacher

Mr J Raymond - Music and Music Technology Teacher

Ms T Mitchell - Music and DT Technician

Essex Music Hub Staff 

Mrs C Finlay - Piano

Mr E Hayes - Guitar

Mr S Smith - Guitar and Drums

Mrs M Weindling - Woodwind

Mrs  H Wright - Singing

Curriculum Intent


"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything” 

Our intent is for students to develop their creative thinking, imagination and confidence in becoming artists and gain the understanding and passion to develop a lifelong love of music. Our curriculum focuses on the development of knowledge and skills in three areas - performing, composing and listening and appraising.  To maximise a student’s ability to engage with music.  


To develop technical and musical skills on a variety of different instruments, both pitched and unpitched, including keyboard, ukuleles and untuned percussion and perform with developing confidence on their own and as a group.  

To be able to read music from a variety of notations. 

To understand different genres of music and specific instrumental techniques.


To be able to compose in a variety of different styles using a variety of different instruments from around the world including West African, Brazilian and European traditions both past and present. 

To be able to use music software to create and annotate compositions. 

To be given the opportunity to develop students' own musical interest through composition. 

Listening and Appraising

To be able to recognise music from different cultures and times.

To be able to use subject specific vocabulary in order to describe music. 

To develop an appreciation and respect of music which may be unfamiliar. 

To be able to recognise different features in music and be able to apply them to their own compositions.

The work completed in key stage 3 will provide the foundation for the areas of study in GCSE and concepts learnt in key stage 3 should be applied to key stage 4.  Likewise concepts learnt at key stage 4 should be applied to key stage 5. 

GCSE & A Level

As well as class lessons much of the two courses involve developing practical skills. GCSE students will have 20 minutes and A level students 30 minutes free individual tuition on their first instrument as part of their course provided by highly qualified peripatetic music staff. If they require piano accompaniment this will be provided for coursework or performing examinations and other performing opportunities.  Students are able to rehearse frequently with Mrs Finlay, our resident accompanist.

Music GCSE - OCR

There are five areas of study:

Component 01: Integrated portfolio 30%

Students develop their understanding of performance and composition through exploration of their own instrument within styles and genres of their choosing.

Component 03/: Practical component 30%

Students develop their skills and understanding of performance and composition. The focus of the performance aspect of this component is on the demands of performing with an ensemble. Students are also required to compose a piece of music appropriate for one of the areas of study in response to a set brief.

Component 05: Listening and appraising paper 40%

This component focuses on areas of study 2, 3, 4, and 5. Students demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of musical elements, contexts and language.

Music A Level - Eduqas 

A level Performing on own choice of instrument or voice. 

Option A (35%)  

Standard equivalent to grade 6

Minimum of 10 minutes

Minimum of three pieces

One piece must link to an area of study

One piece must link to a second different area of study

One piece must be a solo and all other pieces can be either solo and/or ensemble

A level Composing 

Option A (25%) 

One composition to a brief set by Eduqas using the techniques and conventions of the Western Classical Tradition

One free composition for which the learner sets their own brief

Listening and Appraising  (40%)

A level Areas of Study

The development of the symphony (1750-1900)

Set works: Symphony 104 in D major “London” - Haydn

Symphony No 4 in A major “Italian” - Mendlessohn

Musical Theatre (6 composers) 

Into the Twentieth century

Set works: Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano, Movement 2, Poulenc 

Three nocturnes, Number 1, Nuages, Debussy


Music A level Technology - Pearson

Component 1: Recording 20%

Non-examined assessment: 

 One recording, chosen from a list of 10 songs provided by Pearson

Component 2: Technology-based composition 20%

Non-examined assessment: 

One technology-based composition chosen from three briefs set by Pearson


Component 3: Listening and analysing paper 25%

Component 4: Producing and analysing paper 35%


The department is extremely well equipped with facilities dedicated to music students which include:

1 large live rehearsal room, 3 practice rooms each with a piano/keyboard and large enough to rehearse a medium sized ensemble, a sixth form music study room,  a dedicated large music technology room with 16 music computers running Reason 10 and Sibelius 7. Our recording studio and vocal booth has much industry standard equipment.   For live work our equipment includes an Allen and Heath professional QU24 30 in and 24 out digital mixer desk, stage box and various microphones to cover most live situations. 

Other equipment includes a fifteen person steel pan set, a thirty piece samba set, a 30 piece djembe kit, four drum kits including one electronic kit,  a class set of keyboards and guitars and assorted percussion.   All is freely available for students to use for lessons and in students free time. 



We currently run a choir, soul band, steel pan ensemble, djembe drumming,  guitar ensemble, woodwind ensemble, karaoke club and rock club.   Our music calendar includes our winter and summer concerts, solo nights, KS4 and KS5 performances and annual whole school production.  Recent productions include Grease, Bugsy Malone, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, We Will Rock You and School of Rock, Rock of Ages and Honk.  We perform every year at the Colchester Schools Prom and Colchester Schools Rock Prom.  In 2019 we took 45 students from the department to perform in three concerts in Paris including Disneyland Paris and we look forward to touring again soon. Students have the opportunity to get involved with the technical side of shows and concerts and to run their own ensembles.  Students can also sit additional qualifications such as individual instrument, singing and theory grades with Trinity, ABRSM, Trinity and Guildhall, and Rockschool as well as supporting sixth form students with the Extended Qualification Project.

Useful Subject Links

We offer OCR GCSE Music -

Eduqas A level Music -

Edexcel - 

We frequently use these websites to consolidate understanding. Students’ login details can be found on their class Google Classroom. - for theory quizzes - for access to focus on sound app to help with theory and listening and appraising.