Central Ensemble applications will be open from 31st May – 18th June 2021.

For more information about joining one of our Central Ensembles please contact ensembles@servicesforeducation.co.uk

It is free to take part in our Central Ensembles, but you/ your child will be required to audition.

Our ensemble members are nurtured and supported by skilled professional tutors and conductors, developing their confidence and musical abilities.

Members will also take part in memorable performances on the stages of Birmingham’s most prestigious venues, celebrating their musical achievements to packed audiences. These groups also regularly represent Services for Education on the Regional and National Stage.

All our ensembles serve as an extension to weekly instrumental/vocal lessons and school music making. By joining one of our groups your young musicians will be representing your school at city level.

Our Central Ensembles offer progression for intermediate to advanced young musicians.

Auditions for Services For Education (Birmingham Schools’) Central Ensembles are open to young musicians in full time education who attend a Birmingham School or live within the city of Birmingham.

Central ensembles are designed for intermediate (approximately Grade 3 standard upwards) through to advanced performers. Ensembles rehearse weekly during term time with members benefiting from over 100 hours of specialist ensemble tuition.

As a general rule, we expect ensemble members to be with each group for two academic years to be in a position to access the next level ensemble both in terms of instrumental capability and ensemble craft, although there are sometimes exceptional cases where membership of a group may be more or less than this. 

In all cases we expect our ensemble members to audition every two years.  

If you are offered and accept a place in one of our SFE Ensembles musicians are expected to maintain regular instrumental or vocal tuition to enable continued personal improvement.

Hover over and click the images to see what Central Ensembles are available.

1. Auditions via a Teams Meeting

  • Concert Band
  • Wind Orchestra
  • String Sinfonia
  • Concert Orchestra
  • Symphony Orchestra
  • Guitar Sinfonia
  • Guitar Ensemble
  • Recorder Sinfonia
  • Brass Band
  • Jazz Ensemble
  • Percussion Ensemble
  • Brass Attack for a 3rd Year (all other musicians auditioning for Brass Attack please see below)

If you are applying for an audition for one of the ensembles listed above you will have a ‘Teams Meeting’ audition scheduled between Monday 12th and Thursday 16th July 2021. You will be informed of you audition date, time and link to attend the audition on 23rd June.

2. Recorded Auditions

If you are joining one of the following ensembles you will be required to submit a recording-details regarding this will be sent on 23rd June and audition recordings are to be submitted no later than Friday 16th July.

  • Training Wind Orchestra
  • Training Percussion Ensemble
  • Brass Attack
  • Junior String Orchestra
  • Training Jazz Ensemble
  • Training Guitar Ensemble
  • Singers
  • Recorder Ensemble

Microsoft Teams Guidance for live auditions

  • Please ensure the device you are using has a camera, speakers and a microphone.
  • Please click on the meeting link (under venue) when it is time for your audition/ live event. You may want to join 5 minutes early to ensure everything is working correctly and that you are on time.
  • *You will not need a Teams account*
  • You will be admitted into the lobby and a member of SFE staff will let you in at the right time. We will try our utmost to remain on schedule for all of our auditions, but please bear with us if we run a little late – this is as new to us as it is to you.

Here are some resources that might help:

Questions/Queries

Before contacting us please consider the following:

  • If your young musician has been in their current group for 2 years they will be required to audition-this should have been allocated.
  • If your young musician has been a member of a group for 1 year they will have been allocated a place to remain in the same group.  As a general rule, we expect ensemble members to be with each group for two academic years to be in a position to access the next level ensemble both in terms of instrumental capability and ensemble craft, although there are sometimes exceptional cases where membership of a group may be more or less than this. If you think this applies to your young musician please email charlotte.buxton@servicesforeducation.co.uk

Audition Results

Audition results will be published on 23rd July.

Memorandum of Understanding

Finally, please take a moment to familiarise yourself with the following document:

A copy of the memorandum will be available in the portal so you will be able to access and refer back to this throughout the year if you need to.

Many thanks for your continued support.

For more information about joining one of our Central Ensembles please contact ensembles@servicesforeducation.co.uk

STRING REQUIREMENTS

Auditions for Birmingham Schools’ Junior String Orchestra will be via recorded entry. Auditions for all other groups will take place via a live ‘Teams meeting’ audition.

Please prepare one piece appropriate to the entry level of the ensemble you are applying for. Repertoire should be prepared in conjunction with your instrumental teacher and preferably from the ABRSM or Trinity Syllabus.

You are also required to play an ensemble-specific piece, as detailed in the sections below. Click on the relevant link below to download the music.

Junior String Orchestra

String Sinfonia

Concert Orchestra:

Symphony Orchestra:

BRASS REQUIREMENTS

Auditions for Birmingham Schools’ Brass Attack, Training Wind Orchestra and Training Jazz will be via recorded entry. Auditions for all other groups will take place via a live ‘Teams meeting’ audition.

Please prepare one piece appropriate to the entry level of the ensemble you are applying for. Repertoire should be prepared in conjunction with your instrumental teacher and preferably from the ABRSM or Trinity Syllabus.

You are also required to play an ensemble-specific piece, as detailed in the sections below. Click on the relevant link below to download the music.

GUITAR REQUIREMENTS

Auditions for Birmingham Schools’ Training Guitar Ensemble will be via recorded entry. Auditions for all other groups will take place via a live ‘Teams meeting’ audition.

Please prepare two contrasting pieces appropriate to the entry level of the ensemble you are applying for. Repertoire should be prepared in conjunction with your instrumental teacher and preferably from the ABRSM or Trinity or Rock School Syllabus.

PERCUSSION AND DRUM KIT REQUIREMENTS

Auditions for Birmingham Schools’ Training Wind Orchestra, Training Percussion Ensemble, Training Jazz Ensemble and Brass Attack will be via recorded entry. Auditions for all other groups will take place via a live ‘Teams meeting’ audition.

All students attending a Central Ensemble audition should present 2 prepared pieces on any combination of percussion instruments (including drum kit).

This can be 2 pieces on the same instrument.

VOCAL REQUIREMENTS

Young musicians applying for a place in Birmingham Schools’ Singers will be invited to an audition workshop session on 30th June from 6-7pm.

The session will start with an introduction and talk for parents and singers led by conductor Ruth Roberts. This will be followed by a short choral workshop for auditioning singers.

Singers will then be asked to submit a recorded audition no later than Friday 16th July which will consist of the choral exercises explained in the audition workshop as well as a piece of their own choice.

WOODWIND REQUIREMENTS

Auditions for Birmingham Schools’ Training Wind Orchestra and Recorder Ensemble will be via recorded entry. Auditions for all other groups will take place via a live ‘Teams meeting’ audition.

Please prepare two contrasting pieces appropriate to the entry level of the ensemble you are applying for. Repertoire should be prepared in conjunction with your instrumental teacher and preferably from the ABRSM or Trinity Syllabus.

WORLD MUSIC REQUIREMENTS

Auditions will take place via a live ‘Teams meeting’ audition.

  • Azaad Dhol Group
  • Raga and Tala
  • Steel Pan

Did you know that Services For Education is a charity?

Every year, we bring together 2,000 young people from across Birmingham and form over 70 ensembles, specialising in a variety of instruments.

We do not charge for our ensembles because imposing a charge would create an immediate barrier for many families who would struggle to afford these costs but this is only sustainable with support from our donors.

We need your help to keep our ensembles going. 

Become a Friend of Services For Education for as little as £3 per month to support our ensembles. Or, if you’d prefer make a one-off donation.

Find out more on our Charity Website.