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.

Woodwind, Brass and Percussion   Approximate Grades*
Birmingham Schools’ Training Wind Orchestra   3 – 5
Birmingham Schools’ Concert Band   5 – 7
Birmingham Schools’ Wind Orchestra  7 – 8+ 
Strings   
Birmingham Schools’ Junior String Orchestra   2 – 4
Birmingham Schools’ String Sinfonia  5 – 7
Full Orchestra -Strings, Woodwind, Brass and Percussion   
Birmingham Schools’ Symphony Orchestra   7 – 8+
Guitars   
Birmingham Schools’ Training Guitar Ensemble  2 – 4
Birmingham Schools’ Guitar Sinfonia  4 – 6
Birmingham Schools’ Guitar Ensemble   6 – 8+
Orchestral Percussion   
Birmingham Schools’ Training Percussion Ensemble  2 – 5
Birmingham Schools’ Percussion Ensemble   6 – 8+
Percussion and World Music   
Birmingham Schools’ Raga and Tala   
Birmingham Schools’ Azaad Dhol Group   
Birmingham Schools’ Steel Band   
Recorders  
Birmingham Schools’ Recorder Ensemble  initial – 5
Birmingham Schools’ Recorder Sinfonia  5 – 8+
Brass Bands   
Birmingham Schools’ Training Brass Band  1 – 5
Birmingham Schools’ Brass Band   6 – 8+

*Please note, these grade boundaries are for guidance only 

Our SFE Central Ensembles rehearse weekly during term time, are free to attend, and entry is via audition.

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. Our ensemble members are nurtured and supported by skilled professional tutors and conductors, developing their confidence and musical abilities. Members will take part in memorable performances on the stages of Birmingham’s most prestigious venues, celebrating their musical achievements to packed audiences. 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 their school at city level. Young musicians that are offered and accept a place in one of our SFE Ensemble are expected to maintain regular instrumental or vocal tuition to enable continued personal improvement.

How to register and apply (New Central Ensemble members only)

Please watch this video for a step-by-step guide:

  1. Visit https://ensembles.servicesforeducation.co.uk
  2. Login to or register for an account (you may already have an account if you have attended a departmental event)
  3. If you are new to the portal, click ‘add child’ (this can be multiple times on each account)
  4. If you already have an existing account, click ‘view’ next to your child’s name.
  5. Click ‘Apply for a Central Ensemble’
  6. Complete the information and select the ‘New Member Audition for Sept 2023’ option
  7. Check the timeline below for key dates
  8. Visit https://www.servicesforeducation.co.uk/central-ensembles/ to check audition requirements

Audition timeline

  • The ensembles portal is now open now for registration for 2023-24 membership and will close on 25th May.
  • Workshop auditions for all new members will take place as follows in the week of 5th June 2023.

Monday 5th June for Dhol, Tabla, Sitar and Steel Pan players
Tuesday 6th June for Percussion Ensembles
Thursday 7th June for Brass Bands
Saturday 9th June for Wind Bands and String Orchestras 

  • You will be contacted on 26th June with full details of the workshop auditions available to your young musician. Please note that the workshop audition sessions your young musician is offered will be based on the information you provide us with so please complete instrument grade question as accurately as possible (if no grades have been taken please indicate and approximate grade).
  • Following the workshop sessions we will contact parents/carers on Friday 21st July to confirm ensemble offers for 2023-24.

If you have any questions, please email ensembles@servicesforeducation.co.uk

Please prepare two own choice pieces preferably from the ABRSM, Trinity, MTB PRSSV or Rock School Syllabus. Choices should be made in conjunction with your
instrumental teacher and should showcase your current level of attainment

If you have any questions please ask your instrumental teacher or email ensembles@servicesforeducation.co.uk

Did you know that Services For Education is a charity?

Every year, we bring together nearly 4,000 young people from across Birmingham and form over 90 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. 

If you would like to support our Ensembles, please visit our charity project page here: Music Ensembles – Services For Education (sfecharity.co.uk).

Page Last Modified:  26/03/2024 15:50