The Caterham School Music Department's ethos is to encourage and facilitate students in their pursuit of musical achievement. We offer a broad spectrum of co-curricular activities and an enriching and stimulating range of performance opportunities which include termly concerts, informal lunchtime concerts, piano recitals, a school musical, and many more. We have regular workshops and theatre outings and tours overseas. We also get out into the community attending festivals and performing at our local church.

The Chinese philosopher Confucius said that "Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without". Apart from the joy that playing a musical instrument brings to those who play and everyone around them, there are other benefits that might not immediately come to mind.

For example, reading music requires the counting of notes and rhythms and musical theory includes many mathematical aspects. Studies have shown that playing an instrument can improve mathematical ability. Research has also shown that both listening to music and playing an instrument can stimulate the brain, increase memory and can actually increase IQ by up to seven points. The respiratory system is improved – learning how to expel air properly to make the desired sound is an integral part of playing wind and brass instruments. Team skills are a very important aspect of being successful in life. In order for a group or ensemble to make beautiful music, each player and section must learn how to listen to each other and play together. Learning to play an instrument takes time and effort. All musicians have to practise and therefore they have to learn patience and perseverance.

We are proud of a music department where anything is possible and where students are able to express themselves in a positive and enriching way.

Our aims are:

  • To offer a great variety of opportunities for musicians, of any standard
  • To embrace all styles of music
  • To believe that music making should extend well beyond graded exams
  • To provide 'out of school' opportunities for our musicians

Past pupils have gone on to read music at university and pursue their musical studies at conservatoires and the school has an excellent record of results at Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and Trinity Guildhall examinations. (It is worth noting that attainment of grade 6 and above provides valuable UCAS points.)


Lower School

In First and Second years, a carefully designed programme of study ensures that music lessons are both educational and inspiring.
Recent topics have included:

  • Film music
  • Instruments of the orchestra
  • The Blues
  • The music industry

Third Form/Year 9

A large number of our Third Year students will consider music as one of their options for GCSE. With this in mind, our programme of study ensures that they have the correct theoretical and practical experience required. Some of the areas covered at this year have included:

  • Minimalism
  • World Music
  • Film music
  • Musical Theatre

GCSE Music

2015 saw a 100% A* to C pass rate. Our students very much enjoy the flexibility that the AQA GCSE offers.
With two successful composers on the staff, pupils gain a first-hand insight into the compositional process.

A Level Music

2013 saw a 50% A* to B pass rate for A2 music. Our candidates are typically offered places at top universities or conservatoires.

We have around 150 pupils sitting the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, Trinity Guildhall and Rock School examinations every year. Our record of attainment is outstanding and we are very proud of the record number of passes with merit and distinction achieved. In 2014-2015 of 128 exams taken, 48 passed with Merit and 21 passed with Distinction.


Adam Assen BMus (Hons) Director of Music
Adam enjoyed a diverse musical upbringing learning the piano from a young age whilst being a regular performer of Mauritian folk music on percussion and drums. He went on to study music at University of Surrey and later undertook postgraduate studies in Choral Education at the University of Roehampton. He is an experienced conductor and has toured most of Europe with choirs performing in some of the most prestigious venues. He has also worked extensively with the Prague conservatoire orchestra. Adam has run a variety of choirs including a local choral society 'Downland Chorale', Barisons Chamber Choir and his own choir, The Accendo Singers. The latter recorded a single for Absolute Radio which was released to raise money for Help The Heroes. As a composer, Adam has written a wealth of material for schools including commissioned musicals such as 'Perseus and Medusa'. University of Hertfordshire has commended his compositions specifically written for children with autism. Adam returns to Caterham School after spending a year as Director of Music at Ewell Castle School.

Helena Richards BMus (Hons) – Assistant Director of Music, Composer in Residence, Dance
Helena began playing the piano and 'cello at the age of five, followed closely by the harp a couple of years later. She joined the Junior Academy of Music in 1992, where she quickly developed a keen interest in composition. As a music scholar at Guildford High School from 1993-'98, she was a member of The National Children's Orchestra as well as the National Children's Chamber Orchestra. She gained a place at the prestigious Chetham's School of Music in 1998 where she frequently performed with ensembles and orchestras, as well as having many of her compositions played at school, and for the general public. Winner of the Composers' Prize in her final year, she went on to study composition at The Royal College of Music with William Mival, graduating in 2004 with a BMus honours degree. Having completed her PGCE, she began her first teaching post at Caterham as Assistant Director of Music.

Tristan Hall BMus (Hons), PgDip (Perf.), DipABRSM (Piano) - Teacher of Music
Tristan began to play the piano at the age of four. Throughout his time as a music scholar at Wrekin College he developed both his musicianship and love of music not just through the piano, but through playing the violin, organ, composing and conducting. Tristan was awarded a place at Birmingham Conservatoire in 2005 as an undergraduate and 2010 as a postgraduate, where he obtained his Bachelor of Music Honours Degree and Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Performance. Tristan was the first prize recipient in the Dr Maclure Music Competition (Shropshire, 2005), and has been a finalist in the David Brookes Piano Prize (2007) and the Beryl Chempin Beethoven Prize (2008). In October 2012 Tristan released his debut album 'Nil Desperandum' which has sold internationally, and is commercially available. Further to his performing, Tristan is an avid composer and his music is highly regarded. He specializes in solo piano compositions, both original material and transcriptions. He has also begun preparing a large scale 'Requiem' for solo vocalists, solo piano, choir, and orchestra. Tristan completed his PGCE at the University of Bristol in 2013 and he began his first teaching post at Caterham School as a Teacher of Music.

Miss Jemma Riches BMus (Hons) – Music Assistant, Head of Woodwind
Jemma Riches is an accomplished musician with a wide experience of conducting, composing and performing. Originally a violinist she later turned her hand to the saxophone and went on to study the saxophone graduating from TrinityLaban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in 2011 with a BMus honours performance degree. Now heading towards a career in conducting Jemma has performed with and conducted a wide variety of ensembles across the country. Jemma's passion is orchestral music and has premiered several new works in the last five years. Whilst working with the London Young Soloists Ensemble Jemma conducted several major classical works, including various concertos. She has been particularly influenced by Mahler's symphonies and delights in the opportunity to work with the combined forces of both orchestra and choir, something Jemma got to explore whilst Assistant MD with local choir The Downland Chorale. Jemma has received tuition from inspiring, eminent classical conductors across many master-classes, such as Mark Heron, Jonathan Tilbrook and Sir Colin Davis. In addition to her work as a conductor Jemma continues to perform as a saxophonists both as a soloist and in chamber music settings.

Ronan MacManus BMus (Hons) MMusDiploma in Instrumental Teaching - Head of Strings
Ronan MacManus was born in Belfast and started playing violin when he was 10 years old. Following many successes in competitions and festivals around Northern Ireland Ronan proceeded to study instrumental performance at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and Trinity College of Music, London. Ronan is an active performer in the music profession. As an orchestral musician Ronan performs regularly around London with various ensembles and has toured across Europe, the United States of America and China playing both Violin and Viola. Ronan is a keen chamber musician. He is a founder member of The Blackheath Piano Trio, The Sark Trio and The Bell String Quartet. He regularly gives solo and chamber music recitals, most recently having performed in prestigious venues including Blackheath Halls, Kings Place and The Royal Albert Hall. Ronan has also made various TV appearances including a performance with One Direction on The X-Factor.
Ronan specialises in chamber music and instrumental tuition. He enjoys one-to-one and group teaching, orchestral conducting and mostly chamber ensemble coaching. Ronan plans to start his own Chamber Music Summer School in Spain as he believes that ensemble playing is the most beneficial and enjoyable element of learning a string instrument.

Ms Lorraine Temple LRAM ARCM ProfCert DipRAM – Head of Brass
Lorraine was born in the Shetland Islands and began playing the trombone at the age of eight. Following her early musical education at the Kent Music School, she gained a place to study the trombone and singing at the Royal Academy of Music. Her professional career as a trombonist has incorporated much travelling and performances throughout Europe and the British Isles, playing with the all female brass quintet 'Brass Belles' and freelancing with the country's most prominent orchestras. Predominantly, her work has been performing in many West End Shows. Having been fortunate to teach at some of the country's leading schools, she has been the Head of Brass at Whitgift School since 2006 and has most recently has been appointed as Head of Brass at Caterham School. She is the Musical Director of the 'Belle Canto' ladies Chamber Choir and outside of musical activities, she enjoys participating in the sport of Triathlon and spending time with her two adorable weimaraners!