The Music Department at St Andrew’s College is a vibrant, exciting place full of many learning and performance opportunities. No matter the instrument your child plays or the style of music they’re into, there are many opportunities to develop and hone their skills under the direction of highly qualified specialist tutors.

Music and the curriculum

Music as a subject starts from Year 9, with our highly regarded music programme focusing on arranging, composition, theory, and performance. At senior levels, students can specialise their programme to match their unique musical strengths and interests. We prioritise performance and composition, offering regular masterclasses, with the NCEA/senior levels engaging in project-based learning. St Andrew’s is one of the first schools in the country to implement a full music technology component into its curriculum, which is crucial for students aspiring to work in the modern music industry. Our Scholarship music programme consistently produces NCEA Music Scholarships.

St Andrew's College music programme by genre

Music in Years 1–8

Our Preparatory School Orchestra is made up of students who are currently receiving music tuition. They perform specially crafted musical arrangements under the guidance of Music teacher Ros Emeleus. Additionally, a small number of chamber groups are formed each year. Students who are keen on choral music can either join the Cantare Choir (Years 6–8) or the Junior Choir (Years 3–5).

Close up of Preparatory orchestra performing

Music in Years 9–13

Our highly talented teaching staff, state of the art music suites and recording studio, and use of exciting technologies and innovative teaching programmes provides a first-class environment in which music students can reach their full potential. We combine cutting edge technology and traditional music skills in the context of project based learning and innovative teaching techniques. In the creative industry it takes many people to produce an artwork. Students learn how to be interdependent using each other’s strengths to build a collaborative community.

Close up of a trombone player at Prizegiving

Secondary School music groups

Under the direction of Music teacher Mark Hodgkinson, our classical orchestra programme is designed to meet the needs of our musicians.

  • Concert Orchestra

    The Concert Orchestra is an intermediate ensemble mainly for Year 9–11 students. The players begin to develop their ensemble skills with music chosen to provide all instruments with moments to shine.

  • Chamber Orchestra

    The Chamber Orchestra is for advanced musicians, usually in Years 12–13.  The students perform difficult repertoire. Many of these musicians are chosen as members of the New Zealand Secondary Schools Symphony Orchestra.

  • Symphony Orchestra

    For major events in the school year, such as Founders’ Day and the Annual Prizegiving, we combine the Concert and Chamber Orchestras.  This group typically has 60-plus members with a good balance of strings, brass, wind and percussion.  The Symphony Orchestra gives the musicians the experience of playing in a large orchestra, along with all the excitement that entails.

  • Chamber Music

    Every year St Andrew’s enters six to eight groups in the national Chamber Music Competition. St Andrew's College students regularly qualify for the national finals, with our trio Vich Perfect winning the competition in 2021. These groups are for the most advanced classical musicians in the school at both junior and senior levels.

  • Choral

    Our strong choral programme provides opportunities for diverse singers and groups, with most belonging to one of the three auditioned choirs. Stacchorus (Junior Choir) and Staccoro (Senior Choir) perform at numerous school and community events, as well as competing in Big Sing. The Chamber Choir provides a further singing challenge for those wanting to work in demanding repertoire. Some students choose close harmony work as part of the Barbershop programme, which is offered based on student interest.

  • Jazz

    Our Jazz programme (Years 7–13) develops skills and understanding in the jazz genre. Our Big Band is recognised as one of the best bands in New Zealand and competes at the National Youth Jazz Festival and at local jazz festivals. The Jazz Orchestra is our ‘development’ band and competes in the Southern Jam and Ara JazzQuest and the Christchurch Big Band Festival. For elite jazz musicians, we have a traditional Jazz Combo, which performs difficult swing repertoire at a high level, competing in the Ara JazzQuest. Featuring four of the school’s top contemporary vocalists, the Soul Band takes pop and jazz repertoire and arranges the music with their own take of the Soul genre.

  • Rock

    We have an active programme of developing our rock musicians, with Rock School taking place on Friday afternoons where six to eight bands work together, writing original music and developing their musicianship and performance skills for Rockquest and numerous lunchtime gigs.  Our bands perform around town, and they regularly make their own EPs using the school's world class recording facilities.

  • Composition and Songwriting

    An integral part of the school’s Project Based Learning initiatives is making space for our songwriters to excel.  Through regular teaching with specialist tutors and masterclasses our songwriters are very active. In recent years, we have had many students qualify for the national album for the Play It Strange competition, with Grace Lawrence (OC 2022) winning first place in the prestigious 2022 The Lion Foundation Songwriting Competition, with her stunning coming-of-age song Differently Now.

Reasons to get involved



Our music programme encompasses a diverse range of genres including choral, jazz, orchestra, songwriting, chamber groups, barbershop and rock.


Specialist tutors

We provide specialised itinerant instrumental and vocal tutors covering diverse music styles to enhance our students’ musical journey.


Top educator

Professional, world class technology and recording suite, and programme led by Head of Music, Duncan Ferguson, one of New Zealand’s top music technology educators.



We provide professional, high-quality equipment and music resources ensuring students have access to state-of-the art instruments, recording and learning materials.



Our music programme extends beyond the classroom with trips to competitions and festivals, providing valuable performance experiences for our students.

Quality staff and tutors

  • Duncan Ferguson – Head of Music

    Duncan, a graduate with double degrees from the University of Canterbury and the Christchurch Jazz School, boasts a robust musical foundation in classical, rock, and jazz. His extensive experience as a bass player spans both Christchurch and overseas. Duncan’s contributions extend beyond performance; he has pioneered cutting-edge curriculum programmes tailored to individual student needs. His work includes aural training, music theory, and music technology resources, which are widely used by over 90% of New Zealand high schools. As an NZQA moderator and an Apple Distinguished Educator, Duncan leads the way in Music Education and Technology. His expertise is recognised globally through regular keynote presentations at conferences, particularly in the realms of music technology and composition. In 2019, Duncan received the prestigious Music Teacher of the Year award at the Kaiarahi Puoro O Te Tau Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards.

  • Bryan Botting – Stacchorus, Secondary Choir

    Bryan has been directing choirs at St Andrew’s College for over 30 years and is also a director of our national award-winning boys’ barbershop. An accomplished singer and pianist, he received his degree in music from University of Canterbury.

  • Dr Jared Corbett – Director of Staccoro, Senior Chorale

    Jared is a choral conductor and part-time medical doctor, who, alongside his medical training, has pursued a career in music. Jared studied piano with Old Collegian, Professor Terence Dennis (OC 1973) at the University of Otago, has accompanied and directed the Wellington Youth Choir, and most recently completed Graduate and Postgraduate Diplomas in Choral Conducting with Dr Karen Grylls at the University of Auckland, while directing the choirs at Saint Kentigern College. Since relocating to Christchurch, Jared is the director of three choirs: Staccoro, the Christchurch Youth Choir, and The Cecilian Singers. Jared is also a singer and chorister; he is an alumnus of the New Zealand Secondary Students’ Choir, the New Zealand Youth Choir, and the University of Otago Capping Sextet, and is an active member of Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir.

  • Mark Hodgkinson – Orchestras and Chamber Music

    Mark is a freelance conductor and teacher, based in Christchurch. He studied trumpet in Sweden with Bo Nilsson and conducting in Aspen with Murry Sidlin.

  • Specialist Tutors

    The Music Department runs an extensive programme of instrumental and vocal tuition with more than 22 itinerant tutors coming into the College each week.

World-wide acclaim

The 2023 Prizegiving grand finale rendition of Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven, has gone viral. Featuring around 120 singers and musicians who seamlessly blended the sounds of our rock band and orchestra, was enhanced by an impressive light show. Special commendation is due to the Head of Music Duncan Ferguson, along with Music teacher Mark Hodgkinson, lead singer Grace Burnett (OC 2023), lead guitarist Mia Fraser (OC 2023), and acoustic guitarist James McIver (OC 2024) in bringing this exceptional performance to life.

Stairway to Heaven video thumbnail students performing at Prizegiing on stage with instruments.