Frequently Asked Questions

What standard of playing are you looking for?

We do not have formal entry criteria – every student is different, and all students make progress at different stages. Above all else we are looking for evidence of some achievement, a musical spark, and lots of potential. Our happiest students are the ones who are extremely motivated intrinsically: they can’t imagine doing anything other than music, and this is clear in their playing and singing.
Applications and auditions are assessed very much on an individual basis, and exam certificates are not essential.
As a rough guide, with very few exceptions, students joining our school will be playing at approximately the following minimum standard on their first instrument. Most play a second instrument too.
Age 9-11: grade 6-8+
Age 12-15: grade 8-Diploma+
Violinists and cellists
Age 9-11: Grade 5-7+
Age 12-15: Grade 7+
Wind, brass, harp, viola, double bass and percussion players often begin their instruments at an older age, and may be offered a place on potential if they have a less advanced playing level.
All students age 16:
for year 12 (sixth form) we are looking for students who will comfortably be ready to apply for top conservatoires and universities at the start of year 13.
Composers, jazzers and singers are advised to contact the school for more information if in doubt. We do not take singers younger than 14 unless they also play an instrument at a high level, because we are not affiliated with a cathedral, and not equipped to offer a lot of choral opportunities.  
We teach advanced students of classical music and jazz, and although the musical repertoire is varied, we do not run a formal pop or rock school course. All students take iGCSE and pre-U Music, and many take Music Technology A level too.

From what age do you accept students?

We accept students from Year 7 (age 11) through to the Sixth Form (age 16+). New students can enter the school in all years except Year 11 and Year 13.

When is your intake?

Students are admitted in September at the start of the academic year.

Do you have any day students?

Yes. Around 25% of our students are day students.

Do you have weekly boarders?​

Yes. Students can go home most weekends, unless there are rehearsals and/or concerts.

How many students do you have?

We currently have approximately 197 students.

How much instrumental tuition do students receive?

Students receive a total of between two and three hours a week instrumental tuition.

Can my child learn with a teacher outside of School?
Do you accept students that play only one instrument?

Yes. It is not a requirement for students to play a second instrument, although most of our students play two or more instruments (one of which may be composition). Around one in ten students play one instrument only.

How much time do students have to practice?

Between three and six hours a day, according to their age.

My child does play an instrument but their main focus is composition.

Composition is counted as an equivalent to an instrumental study at The Purcell School.

Is Audio Production considered a first study at The Purcell School?

Yes. The Purcell School offers Audio Production as a first study. Please note that Audio Production is only open to applicants entering Year 12, who have a supporting instrument to Grade 5 standard.

Do you have a Jazz department?

Yes. We have a strong and well established Jazz department with first study jazz students playing instruments ranging from jazz piano to jazz bass. Jazz voice is also included. ​

Do you accept students with special educational needs?

The School is committed to providing support to students with a range of additional needs.

When is the next Open Morning?

Details of our next Open Morning are available here.

What are the School fees?

Our current School fees are available here.

Do you offer any Bursaries, or financial support?

Yes. The School enables financial assistance with fees through the means-tested Bursaries we offer - the Government's Music and Dance Scheme (MDS), and the School Bursary Fund.

How do I go about applying for a place at the School?

Applications open one academic year prior to the year of entry.

Please visit Admissions/How to Apply for further information.

How do I apply and who can I direct any queries to?

Application is via our online application platform which is be accessible from this page - Admissions/How to Apply

If you have any questions about your application, please email Natasha Vallance, Executive Administrator at

When is your closing date for applications?

There is no deadline for application, however we strongly recommend applications as early in the academic year as possible to avoid disappointment, as places at the school are limited.

Applications are considered as they arrive and candidates are assessed in relation to their age and potential at time of audition; there is therefore no advantage in waiting to audition later in the year.

When do auditions take place?

Our auditions take place in School throughout the academic year, often on a Thursday morning.

Can I have a look around the School?

We encourage prospective parents and students to attend our Open Mornings which take place annually in October and February - please register your attendance via our website.