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 32 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 and Lower School Chamber Choir.
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. 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 Choirs and the Eton Choral Courses.
Musicals (most recently Sister Act, Les Misérables, The Sound of Music and Jesus Christ Superstar), commissions, world premières, workshops, masterclasses and lectures all contribute to the full and ever-stimulating musical programme offered at Benenden.
It was a pleasure to work with the talented students at Benenden School and to perform with them in the beautiful Drapers' Hall in January 2018. I was impressed with the quality of the players and, in particular, with their enthusiastic and professional attitude towards music making which made for a highly enjoyable performance. Music making of this quality is only achieved through huge efforts on the part of students and teachers, and with support from parents.
Tasmin Little, OBE
The Sir David K.P. Li Music School has more than 20 practice rooms and classrooms, as well as a smaller performance room, IT suite and recording and performance booths. These facilities offer girls plenty of opportunity for practice and to explore new musical passions.
In addition to the exceptional performance space afforded by the Centenary Hall, The Music School features the smaller Bonnie Yeung-Tsang Recital Hall, with capacity for an audience of around 150 people, offering a more intimate setting perfect for rehearsals and smaller performances such as Lunchtime Concerts. This is also the ideal environment in which girls can develop their confidence and skills in performing.