Instrumental and Choral Music


Ferny Grove State High School’s multi-award winning instrumental and choral music program is one of the most highly regarded in Queensland. It has also achieved international recognition, having been the subject of a research project based at Cambridge University, which resulted in papers about its teaching methodology being published in international academic journals.

The program involves around 400 students in 20 ensembles, including choirs, string groups, orchestras, stage bands and percussion, brass and wind ensembles.


Performing music to a high level develops students’ ability to analyse, interpret and communicate complex intellectual and emotional concepts. It nurtures creativity and imagination, and has multiple flow-on effects to other areas of learning.

We believe the best results are obtained in an environment that provides a student with a sense of belonging, and strong support from staff and community.

There’s an expression – “the glistening eye” – which denotes that look in the eye of the young performer (or performer of any age) that speaks of enthusiasm, communication, imagination and joy in music.

It’s hard to define but easy to recognise, and in the Ferny Grove State High School Choral and Instrumental Music Program, we believe that the glistening eye effect is as fundamental an indicator as you can get that good music making is taking place, and that all the other benefits of music education – social, artistic and intellectual – are also present.

We strive to nurture the glistening eye in all our students, not least by creating an environment in which they feel accepted and secure, and therefore prepared to express themselves emotionally through music and support each other in doing so.

We believe we have created a “learning community”, where learning takes place not only in formal lessons and rehearsals, but amongst the students themselves as they share their discoveries and encourage each other.

Parents, friends and former students are also welcome, and play important roles in supporting the program.


There is an ever-increasing body of research that suggests that music is massively beneficial to cognitive, intellectual and social development, and the “higher order” thinking skills.

It has significant flow-on effects supporting learning in other areas such as language and mathematics, to say nothing of being a sophisticated artistic and intellectual discipline in its own right.

Perhaps most of all, it can nurture the imagination, the ability to think creatively, a sense of empathy and awareness of the things that unite us as human beings – the things you need if you want to go out into the world, be a good citizen and lead a good life.


Our approach emphasizes group teaching, and the grounding of musicianship in the body as well as the brain.

We do a lot of physical movement, singing, memorizing, and repetition – not mindless repetition, but inventive repetition that gives students time to dig deeply into a piece of music and hear what’s really there, so that they don’t just let notes fly by without thinking about what they mean, or even noticing them at all.

We want our students to hear how musical elements relate to each other, to understand how their part fits into the bigger picture, and to communicate that to an audience.

We showcase our best performances in concerts throughout the year, culminating in the annual Gala Concert, over three nights in August.


It’s not always easy to be part of the music program – it can involve early mornings, long hours, difficult and unfamiliar repertoire and genuine self-discipline. Students are expected to attend all relevant rehearsals, lessons and concerts.

But if you want to know why so many students are keen to be involved, the easiest way to find out is to come to one of our performances and hear them sing and play.

You can also get some idea from reading the remarks from parents and friends below.

Entrance Requirements

Students wishing to nominate for this program do so by ticking the relevant box on the Expression Of Interest Form (PDF, 4.4 MB), accompanied by all relevant academic records together with an Expression of Interest For Instrumental and Choral Music​.

For out of catchment applications please read the Out Of Catchment Audition Information sheet​.

Please note that applications will only be accepted in the year immediately prior to the year of entry. 


Dale Barltrop (Concertmaster, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra)

I feel very lucky to have grown up in a school that was very active in the arts, and still is … It was a great environment to be a musician – the music department became my community and my haven.

Dr Pamela Burnard (Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge)

I saw young people and parents working alongside staff in a pioneering and innovative way, where sensitive and communicative music making emerged … this kind of music making, and this kind of interactive and creative learning community evokes life.​

Jacqui Burrows (FGSHS Parent)

Music should be part of every community. It brings people together, puts joy in their hearts and smiles on their faces! Ferny Grove is one lucky place to be!

Monika Nick (FGSHS Parent)

I would get up early any day to hear your choirs sing! and what a brave and moving performance for the last song, it is such a joy to watch your students show off their heart and soul and skills.

Vanessa Baird (FGSHS Parent)

Blown away by tonight's Roedean choir concert. Another amazing opportunity in a truly amazing music program. We are reminded again what a privilege it is to send our boys to a school that celebrates and grows creativity in such an inspiring way!

Melinda Miller (FGSHS Parent)

On Wednesday night, my son said "I can't wait to wake up tomorrow because it's Music Class. It makes me happy to get out of bed". Music to a mother's ears.

Kirsten Nicholson (FGSHS Parent)

We have been attending the Gala for six years now. Our son made his debut this Gala after being inspired over the years by this outstanding event. Thank you to you all, the teachers, students and parents who have made him so welcome and made a dream come true. We're all still buzzing from the excitement and incredible experience that is Gala.

Tom Turvey (Education Queensland)

This is awesome! I wish all schools implemented ideas like these.

Kaja Skorka (Queensland Symphony Orchestra)

Congratulations for a wonderful concert! Your music class project is brilliant!

And with such smoothly running stage changes, the film clips, the very professional comperes, the lighting, etc., the whole presentation was an artwork in itself. 


Last reviewed 07 February 2022
Last updated 07 February 2022