Music holds a privileged place at the heart of Benenden with countless opportunities for girls of all ages. There is activity in the Music Department each day from early until late. With a staff of 28 teachers and with more than 400 weekly individual lessons involving over two-thirds of the School, a full class teaching timetable and a wide array of ensembles, there is very much the feel of a ‘school within a school’.
Every girl in the Lower School (Years 7, 8 and 9) receives an hour of class music tuition per week and many go on from here to study Music at GCSE and A Level.
Benenden Symphony Orchestra is complemented by numerous string and wind ensembles. Other groups include the Jazz Band, Concert Band and rock groups, and for singers, there are countless opportunities through the Chapel Choir, Chamber Choir, Lower School Chamber Choir and Folk Groups.
We put on weekly Friday Lunchtime Concerts and occasional break time Coffee Concerts, encouraging students of all ages and abilities to perform. Opportunities abound both in and out of the School in prestigious venues such as Canterbury Cathedral, St John’s Smith Square, King's College, Cambridge, Westminster Abbey, Windsor Castle, St Paul’s Cathedral and St James’ Palace. Benenden’s musicians also perform regularly in the locality to raise funds for various charities. All performances are recorded and made available online via the Parent Portal.
We have well-established links with the junior departments of the Royal College and Royal Academy of Music. Furthermore, girls are frequently involved with The National Youth Orchestra, National Children’s Orchestra, the National Youth Choir and the Eton Choral Courses.
Musicals (recently Les Misérables and The Sound of Music), commissions, world premières, workshops, masterclasses and lectures all contribute to the full and ever-stimulating musical programme offered at Benenden.
Benenden’s Music Department is found in one of the School’s most picturesque corners. It is physically linked to the School Hall, where most of the concerts and recitals take place, and is close to the Chapel where the musicians often seek to take advantage of the excellent acoustics.
The current provision is highly regarded – there are numerous practice, teaching and rehearsals rooms, the range of pianos and other instruments is outstanding and the IT Suite has recently been upgraded to the latest iMac models.
The School’s commitment to Music is very much in evidence through The Heart of Benenden. Planning and fundraising are well under way for the building of a stunning new Music School comprising a new Concert Hall as well as a more intimate Recital Hall. The project, which is being built to a design by Guy Hollaway Architects, is due for completion in 2020.
This major investment by the School points to a hugely exciting future for the School’s musicians, creating facilities which will be unrivalled in the South East and amongst girls’ boarding schools.