The Arts

Overview, Aims & Ethos

Alongside sport, The Arts has become a thriving and integral part of Pembroke life. There are a huge number of artistic and cultural opportunities available to pupils outside the classroom. Music, Drama, Art, Design Technology and Dance give a vital creative outlet to pupils who enjoy and excel in these areas. The Arts at Pembroke also contribute hugely to the vibrant diversity of the school, especially with regular concerts and performances that showcase our pupils’ many talents to parents and the community.


‘Almost three-quarters of pupils learn to play an instrument and have numerous performance opportunities which give them confidence.’

- SIS Inspection Report, 2018

Music is an important part of everyday life for the majority of Pembroke pupils. Children are naturally very social, and it’s important to encourage them to build relationships by providing them with shared experiences, and Music does this brilliantly. There are opportunities for everyone to get involved in the many and varied musical activities, to whatever level they choose. Importantly, Pembroke musicians and singers love performing and have a broad experience of a range of musical styles, appreciating how music is put together and the positive impact it can have on us all. 

Aside from Music lessons as part of the curriculum, pupils also have the opportunity to join a choir, learn an instrument or take voice lessons, and participate in the plethora of rehearsals, performances, Chapel services, concerts, competitions and festivals that happen throughout the school year.

We have both a Junior and Senior Choir, with the most capable forming the Chamber Choir. The choirs practise weekly, and there is a choir performance every week during Sunday Chapel services, as well as in special competitions and festivals. We also appoint a boy and girl Head and Deputy Head Chorister, to recognise commitment to the choir and music at Pembroke.

There are two external festivals at Brookhouse and Braeburn each year, as well as a collaborative IAPS Cantata held every two years. We also send musicians to the Orchestral Weekend at St Andrew’s, Turi each year. There are in-house performance opportunities every Saturday morning during hymn practice, for younger students or those less experienced or confident. Many of our musicians perform during our termly Open Day Concerts. Our Pre-Prep students all take part in a performance every term, which is a collaborative effort involving Music and the Performing Arts.

As part of our programme of extra music tuition, the majority of pupils sit a Music exam each year. In 2019, we achieved a 100% pass rate, with 95% of pupils receiving distinctions or merits.

Our music teachers are adept at preparing Year 8 students for Music Scholarships to their next school of choice, with many Pembroke pupils being successful in securing scholarships over the years.

Extra Music Lessons

We offer a wide range of extra music lessons, with approximately 150 lessons of extra music taking place every week, demonstrating its popularity across all year groups. Pupils can learn: bass guitar, classical guitar, cornet, drums, electric guitar, flute, piano, recorder, saxophone, trumpet, ukulele, voice and violin. These are taught by Pembroke teachers or visiting peripatetic teachers, who specialise in different instruments, and travel from Nairobi on particular days of the week to teach their Pembroke students. Instrumental students also have the opportunity to rehearse and perform with one of our ensembles.

Extra music lessons are charged at the start of the term, at a cost of ksh19,700 per term, which generally includes 10 lessons. Pupils may also have the opportunity to sit ABRSM or MTB Music exams, when their teacher feels they are ready. ABRSM exams are offered twice a year by examiners from the UK. MTB exams can be taken at any point throughout the year, and are carried out internally.

Performing Arts

Our Performing Arts is made up of the subjects of Drama, and Rhythm & Dance. There is lots of collaboration between the two subjects, notably in preparing for performances, which makes up a major part of lesson time. There is also a strong link with Music, meaning that the teachers of these three subjects work very closely to ensure the pupils are adept in all three disciplines as part of group performances.

Since becoming a dedicated part of our curriculum, Drama has taken on a new prominence within the school. With experienced Drama teachers has come a new focus on how children express themselves creatively on stage, and explore characters’ feelings and experiences. It helps pupils develop tolerance and empathy, as well as to understand the lives of people from different times, and with different backgrounds. Drama also has a huge capacity to reinforce the rest of the school curriculum.

LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art) is one of our most popular paid extras. It involves appreciating spoken and written language, with a focus on performing. Children learn how to deliver their lines with clarity, confidence and appropriate emotion, mostly when reciting poetry. More recently, we have offered musical theatre as an additional option, which has proved popular and has created an added element of fun group performance. The majority of LAMDA pupils undertake exams at the end of the school year, which are carried out by visiting examiners from the UK. There is a termly cost of ksh10,350 for LAMDA, which is taught by experienced Pembroke staff.

We also take part in Inter-School Drama competitions such as the Badminton Trophy and the Banda Vocal Cup. These provide our pupils with an excellent opportunity to perform in front of a wider audience, and display their thinking and acting skills, especially under pressure.

Our Drama teacher also prepares suitable candidates in Year 8 for Drama scholarships to their next school. This really extends capable pupils; we have been highly successful in recent years in securing Drama scholarships for Pembrokians to top private schools.

Rhythm & Dance is the second important component of our Performing Arts. Dance is the perfect outlet for pupils to explore their creativity and movement, and to express themselves in a physical and emotive way. This can include more traditional dance forms, such as ballroom and rock and roll, or contemporary forms of dance such as hip hop. It can also extend to those varieties from other cultures, such as the tango, samba or forms of tribal dance. Regardless of the genre, dance has the capacity to engage and motivate students, and has great appeal for many pupils.

We also offer Dance as a paid extra with a trained teacher. This can take on different formats, including ballet, hip hop and contemporary dance, depending on the interest of the group. There is a cost of ksh900 per session.

Art (including Pottery & Design Technology)

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

- Pablo Picasso

Art at Pembroke seeks to inspire and nurture creativity, through exposing all pupils to a variety of artists, techniques and media. While we recognise that not all pupils have a natural aptitude for Art, we believe that it is a valuable component of the curriculum. Art encourages imagination, thinking and decision-making, and is as much about the process as developing a final, finished piece. It also gives children the opportunity to experiment and have fun, and to know that their work isn’t defined as being right or wrong. We are pleased to be able to develop pupils’ skills in Pottery, and in our recent expansion into Design Technology; both of these bring added depth to the discipline. We encourage our pupils to grow in confidence and ambition in all their work, thanks to enthusiastic and passionate teachers who are positive and supportive of all budding artists. 

Aside from regular lessons, our pupils have the opportunity to have their work displayed as part of our Art Exhibitions, and through a range of different Inter-School Art Competitions. We always look out for these opportunities, as we believe that working towards a goal, and seeing the outcome of being judged against peers from other schools, also encourages our pupils to undertake new challenges. We also enjoy hosting international Art workshops from visiting Art teachers, who can bring new ideas and motivation to our pupils and teachers.

Our Head of Art works closely with our Art Scholars to develop a portfolio and sketch books for their next school. This can take several years of work, and means that pupils must have the ability and commitment to prepare thoroughly for their scholarship, which also includes understanding the work of other artists. We are proud of our many former pupils who have been awarded Art Scholarships to top schools.

Performances & Special Events

Each year, the pupils in the different sections of the school all take part in a major performance. All our shows are fully staged with lighting, costumes, music and dance numbers, adding that extra bit of sparkle. Our Junior School pupils perform the Nativity, which happens at the end of the Michaelmas term, just before Christmas. The Middle School puts on a series of small plays at the end of the Trinity term. Our major school production is performed by the Senior School pupils at the end of the Lent term, with recent performances including Aladdin, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Little Shop of Horrors, Grease, The Lion King, Bugsy Malone and Matilda. These all happen in our custom-built theatre.

In addition to these termly performances, we also hold an Open Day concert for parents every term. This usually comprises performers across all disciplines, and really showcases the talent of our pupils in either an individual or group setting. Just before Christmas, our Senior Choir puts on Carol performances at a local orphanage, in the local community, and for parents, all of which are extremely well-received by the respective audiences. The children perform in our Remembrance Service each year, and enjoy going to watch professional performers on stage in Nairobi when there are visiting shows. 

Each year, we send instrumentalists to the Orchestral Weekend at Turi, and take part in the two Inter-School Music Festivals in Nairobi, for both the Junior and Senior Choirs. There is an IAPS Cantata every two years. In 2019, we hosted the inaugural Organ and Choral Afternoon at Pembroke, which proved a great success. We participate in the Banda Vocal Cup, and in the Badminton Trophy for Drama, which Pembroke won in 2019.

Every child in the school participates in the annual Inter-House Song Competition at the end of the Trinity term. We also showcase the Visual Arts, including Pottery and Design Technology, in a vibrant whole school Art Exhibition. All children are part of their form’s chapel once a year, which usually involves the elements of public speaking, performance, and some kind of theme or message.