You do not need to have passed any grades at all to get into these groups but must be playing at a standard. I can categoriacvlly state this is the case and not just said. It all goes on how they do in the audition. The bands have set pieces the names of which you can get from the administrator via the website and the orchestra you have to choose your pieces. I have posted under CH general stuff, 'bands' and 'audition venues' so go there if you want to find out more. For the childrens orchestra bursary help is avialable for those that need it in a similar manner to CH, ie form filling but they also give a list of charities you can apply to for help. You do have to pay a fee for the audition though not as much as for taking a grade. Everyone seems really enthusiatic there and the music has just come through for the Easter course and is challenging. They have groups for very young children so if you have any younger children who you think would benefit from time away boarding with other musicians please go and look at their websites. There is also East kent Holiday Music Trust. Details should be in music school now or again you can check out via the web. Not as intensive as the national ensembles but a very high standard and lovely surroundings and fun!!!
Lastly but not least do look out for them in their concerts. This Easter the band are up in Harrogate and the main nco orchestra will be performing in the colston hall.