Music is at the heart of life at St Helen’s School. We provide opportunities for girls to develop and flourish musically, whatever stage of their musical journey they are on.
We offer a plethora of co-curricular ensembles in the Senior School, including two orchestras, five choirs, a string orchestra, concert band and big band, in addition to a variety of pop/rock bands and numerous chamber groups. In the Prep School, pupils have the opportunity to take part in the orchestra, various choirs, a string group, wind group and guitar group, in addition to more informal music-making activities.
The Mary Short School of Music, officially opened by the conductor Sian Edwards in April 2019, provides our students with best-in-class facilities. These include:
Within the school, students have regular opportunities to perform in one of our large halls, such as the 430-seat Rowland Brown Hall or our stunning Seldon Recital Hall.
There are many performance opportunities for ensembles and choirs throughout the year, including the termly Ensembles Concerts and Pop Concerts. Soloists also have opportunities to shine in our regular Tea-Time Concert series which takes place in the Seldon Recital Hall. A house band competition runs annually in addition to the Year 9 Battle of the Bands event in the Summer Term. Every other year we stage a musical in collaboration with Merchant Taylors’ School – most recently Kiss Me Kate, 9 to 5 and Chicago.
In the Prep School, twice-yearly Ensembles Concerts are given, in addition to weekly solo showcase concerts and year-group performances.
Each year, St Helen’s joins forces with Merchant Taylors’ School for the Joint Concert, a prestigious event which involves the performance of large-scale choral works together with the MTS Community Choir and the choirs of several local schools. This has recently included repertoire including Faure’s Requiem and Haydn’s Nelson Mass. In addition to the yearly Carol Service, held in Emmanuel Church, Northwood, various other external performances have been given over the past few years, including concerts in Southwark Cathedral, St John’s Smith Square, and Symphony Hall in Birmingham.
Music tours to Europe are organised every other year, and recent trips have included visits to Florence, Paris, Barcelona, Belgium and the Rhineland.
Girls throughout the school can choose to have individual instrumental or singing lessons, taught by an outstanding team of around 20 specialist visiting Music teachers.
We offer lessons in all the standard orchestral instruments as well as piano (classical or jazz), guitar (classical, acoustic, electric or bass), drum kit, music technology, singing and theory. Students in Year 7 also have access to the Symphonfree Scheme, an initiative which affords 25 pupils free specialist tuition and a loaned instrument for the year.