The Co-Curricular Activities at Birkenhead School may be broken down into two areas:
• Other smaller ensemble groups
• Instrument Tuition
We believe the Chapel Choir is unique amongst independent day schools. Choristers perform what is essentially a cathedral repertoire. Admission is by audition, with voice trials held every September, although the Director of Music may assess individuals at other times of year as well. Apart from providing the music in Chapel during the week and at the Sunday service, the Choir undertakes recitals and services in various cathedrals.
Senior Choir (Mixed Voice Choir)
A mixed-voice choir that caters for all ages from 11 to 18 and membership is open to all without audition. Rehearsals take place once a week. As well as promoting the joy of singing, the Senior Choir prepares a repertoire for School concerts and has also taken part in concerts in the Philharmonic Hall, both in its own right and as part of the larger chorus. Staff are also most welcome to join this group.
The Prep Choir takes many forms throughout the School year, as singing forms an integral part of the curriculum in Prep, giving all pupils regular opportunities to perform – either as a form group, year group, or even whole School. Every form will sing at a class assembly once a year, and Year 5 Choir and Year 6 Choir sing at the two aforementioned major School concerts. The most-able singers in Year 6 are also given the opportunity to sing in the AJIS Music Festival and were worthy winners in 2015. In recent years the massed Prep Choir has also taken part in concerts in the Philharmonic Hall, performing both on its own and as part of the larger chorus. A significant number of the most talented singers in Years 5 and 6 are also Chapel Choristers.
In contrast to the Chapel Choir, the Choral Society is open to anyone who wishes to participate and this is a founding principle; there are no auditions. Not only is it open to students right through the School, but it is also open to parents, staff and associates and friends of the School. In the past, the Society has performed major choral works in the Philharmonic Hall Liverpool with professional soloists and orchestra and has raised over £80,000 for local charities. The Choral Society now meets at least once a year as part of the annual Festival of Music ‘Come and Sing’ day.
Students involved in the Instrumental Programme attach themselves to one or more instrumental groups as soon as they are able to play sufficiently well to participate. This helps to consolidate their technique, improve their sight playing skills and develops an appreciation of the pleasures and problems of making music with others. Students who are learning to play an instrument privately out of School are also encouraged to join these groups.
There are a variety of Orchestras and Ensembles for students to choose:
- Prep Orchestra
- Senior Orchestra
- Concert Band
- Big Band
- Brass Ensemble
- Junior Brass Ensemble
The orchestras and ensembles perform to a large audience twice every year in the Christmas and Summer “Whole School” concerts.
Other smaller ensemble groups:
- Saxophone Quartet
- Clarinet Ensemble
- Recorder Ensemble
- Renaissance Band
- Folk Band
- Guitar Ensemble (student-led)
- Ukulele Club (student-led)
In addition to the groups which are described above, many less formal groups and ensembles meet on an ad-hoc basis, either to prepare for some specific occasion or just for the pleasure of playing together. String Groups, Wind Ensembles and Percussion Groups also meet as splinter groups of the orchestras both for sectional rehearsal and to play specific ensemble pieces.
Instrument Tuition is available in the following instruments:
- Double Bass
- Horn/Tenor Horn
- Music Theory