State Honours Ensemble Program (SHEP)

In partnership with schools across Queensland, the State Honours Ensemble Program (SHEP) connects the finest young musicians with a team of eminent international and national conductors in pursuit of musical excellence.

For nomination information, email on or call us on 07 3735 6375.


SHEP Regional Programs
Suited to students in years 7 - 12 with AMEB or equiv of 4 and above
North Queensland - held in Cairns
Capricornia - held in Rockhampton
Darling Downs - held in Toowoomba
SHEP Middle School Programs
Suited to students in years 5 - 9 with AMEB or equiv of 2 and above
Maryborough - (Primary years 3 - 6 AMEB prel - 2) TBC
SHEP Brisbane Programs
South-East QLD (Middle School) - Students in years 6 - 9; AMEB 2 - 5

Queensland: Students in years 7 - 12; AMEB 4 and above
AHEP: Students in years 7 - 12; AMEB 6 and above and audition required
Primary: Students in years 3 - 6 AMEB prelim - 2
Pacific Honours Ensemble Program (PHEP), Seattle USA – in partnership with Western International Band Clinic (WIBC)

2021 Calendar

SHEP Regional Programs 2021DatesNoms Close (estimated)
North QLD5 – 7 MarchNovember
Capricornia12 – 14 MarchNovember
Rockhampton26 – 28 MarchNovember
Darling Downs21 – 23 MayLate Feb
Townsville18 – 20 JuneLate March
Bundaberg23 – 25 JulyEarly May
Cairns6 – 7 AugustEarly May
Mackay29 - 29 August Mid June
Maryborough (TBC)TBCTBC
SHEP Brisbane Programs 2021DatesNoms Close (estimated)
South-East QLD (Middle School)4 – 6 JuneLate Feb/Early March
QLD30 Sept – 3 OctEarly May
AHEP29 Sept - 2 Oct Mid Feb
Primary27 - 28 Nov Early August

SHEP Queensland

Successful students will have the opportunity to work in either a Wind Orchestra, String Orchestra, Celtic String Orchestra, Guitar Ensemble or Vocal Ensemble.

Celtic string orchestra: Students play traditional Scottish Fiddle Music, learnt by ear (no sheet music) and present the material in concert - excellent ensemble for students looking to be extended particularly in the aural skills as musicians.

Australian Honours Ensemble Program (AHEP)

The AHEP Programs runs concurrently with SHEP QLD. Selection into this program is only via audition.  Nomination forms are emailed to teachers at the end of the year for submission to us early the next year.  Once nominations are in, students are then emailed the requirements for audition and will be asked to submit their video audition to us via dropbox. Students that are unsuccessful for a place in the AHEP Program will then be considered for a place in SHEP QLD.

NEW: Symphony Orchestra and Big Band have now been incorproated into the AHEP Program.

AHEP Masterclass: The AHEP workshops are an opportunity for students to work with QCGU academic specialist staff in an instrument specific environment. Students may be asked to perform or work on exercises/skill building techniques to support their individual learning.

Important Information


Participants are expected to make themselves available for all rehearsals and the concert performance. Participating in the Honours Programs is a major commitment and students are required to attend all rehearsals over the program. If you have an event (eg family, school, sporting, community, religious) that you know will preclude you from any part of the rehearsals or concert you must decline the offer to participate so we can extend the invitation to another student. At no time during the event are participants permitted to leave the Honours venue during the daily activities.

Transport/ Accomodation

Students/families attending this program are required to organise their own transport and accommodation (if applicable) throughout.

For Teachers only

If you would like to be added to the SHEP Mailing lists please email us at and be sure to advise which SHEP programs you wish to be added to.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Honours Program?

The Australian and State Honours Ensemble Programs are an educational program for music students that helps extend and encourage their pursuit of musical excellence.

Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University’s State Honours Ensemble Program has grown from relatively modest beginnings in 2001 to now include more than 4000 participants in twelve programs throughout Queensland.  SHEP is now a firmly established aspect of music learning in Queensland, bringing together young people from all over the State, in regional centres and Brisbane to share their passion for making music.

Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University in partnership with local schools, presents five Secondary School programs - SHEP Capricornia (Rockhampton), SHEP North Queensland (Cairns) SHEP Darling Downs (Toowoomba), SHEP Queensland (State-wide) and the Australian Honours Ensemble Program (Brisbane); six Middle School programs in Bundaberg, Cairns, Mackay, Rockhampton, Brisbane (South-East Queensland, and Townsville and two primary programs in Brisbane and Maryborough.

Since first commencing in 2001 SHEP has seen over 25,000 students attend the SHEP programs throughout Queensland, from more than 2000 schools; with many of these students progressing from the middle-school programs through to secondary.  A select number of participants have also joined the international arm of SHEP, Pacific Honours Ensemble Program, which tours to Seattle each year.  Since 2001 more than 300 nationally and internationally acclaimed conductors have led the SHEP ensembles to presentations of musical excellence.

SHEP gives students the opportunity to work in an intensive environment of musical excellence with their peers offering a unique opportunity to extend and develop their musical skills and work with a team of eminent conductors from Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University.

2018 saw the inaugural Australian Honours Ensemble Program (AHEP) run concurrently with SHEP Queensland - with a wind orchestra, string orchestra and vocal ensemble - making this a truly national program. AHEP is an extension of the State Honours Ensemble Program (SHEP).

How are students nominated?

Approximately three months prior to each program, music/choral teachers are emailed and asked to nominate the students that meet the specified criteria for each program. Teachers complete a nomination form and return to us by the required deadline. Students represent their school; therefore, nomination forms will only be accepted from a school representative and not parents, however teachers can nominate students that study music (individual tuition) outside of the school providing they have their AMEB grade.

Which instruments are part of the Honours Programs?

Strings: violin, viola, cello, double bass

Winds: flute, oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, saxophone, trumpet, french horn, trombone, euphonium, tuba, percussion

Vocal ensemble: soprano, alto, baritone, tenor (SABT choir only available in the secondary year programs)

Guitar ensemble: Classical acoustic – ONLY FOR SHEP QLD and SHEP MIDDLE SCHOOL SOUTH EAST QLD

How are students selected?

From the nominations, we place students into relevant instrument groups, and sort them from the highest AMEB, as nominated by teacher, and then year level within each AMEB group. Based upon the required number of instruments within each section of the ensemble (as we are required to maintain a specific ensemble balance), we select students from the highest AMEB down based on number of required instruments. At times there are students of the same AMEB within the cut-off range, at this point we allocate to older students as they may not have another opportunity to participate or be nominated again.

We then select students as reserves, as they may be selected for the program depending upon whether other students decline and ensemble vacancies arise. Please be assured there is no preferential treatment given to any student, and unfortunately some instrument areas (violin, trumpet, flute, saxophone) are incredibly competitive as we receive numerous nominations, often in the multiple 100's for very limited places.

We honour the teacher’s nomination, as we acknowledge that the teacher has the best idea of the student's standard

What happens once I am nominated?

Once all the nominations have been submitted by teachers, you will receive an email from SHEP admin to notify you that you have been nominated and to provide you with information regarding the program. You will then receive another email within 2 – 3 weeks with the outcome of the nomination, students will receive one of the following:
Successful Offer - An offer to participate in the program
Reserve list - Students on the reserve list may be made an offer subject to positions becoming available.
Unsuccessful - Not all students nominated by their teachers are able to be offered positions for the program. This does not reflect the ability of the student but the volume of high standard nominations we have received and limited places available, or that the nomination criteria was not met.

When are the finale concerts held?

Concerts are held on the Sunday of the program and family and friends are welcome to attend. Students represent their schools and are to wear their full school uniform for the concert performance.

Where are rehearsals held?

Rehearsals are held over several venues including:

- Queensland Conservatorium

- Somerville House

- Brisbane State High School

- Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre

View rehearsal venue maps

Contact us

Learn more about the Open Conservatorium