NCO-The National Children’s Orchestra-Apply

NCO-The National Children’s Orchestra-Apply

NCO-The National Children’s Orchestra-Apply

The National Children’s Orchestras of Great Britain (NCO) inspires children and young people – who are 7-14 years old and are British citizens, residents of or studying in the British Isles – to achieve their full potential through learning, performing and creating orchestral music.

The young musicians in our membership are at the heart of our educational activities, and through large orchestral performances alongside smaller scale child-led projects, we encourage teamwork, responsibility, creativity and leadership skills for all of our orchestra members. We nurture both the buzz of collective performance and the role of the individual within that.

Four strands of activity underpin the NCO curriculum, each of which supports the development of fully rounded musicians:

Mastery – the art of creating something wonderful through performance
Wellbeing – we embrace a holistic approach to the minds and bodies of our young musicians
Autonomy – developing the individual voices and musical identities of our musicians
Purpose – understanding of the value of a creative education and sharing that knowledge

Every autumn, NCO auditions over a thousand 7-14 year olds and identifies 600 young musicians to form 11 orchestras: five age-banded national symphony orchestras and six symphonic mixed-age regional orchestras. Many children progress through all our national orchestras gaining up to 7 years of learning opportunities as part of NCO.

A place in NCO gives children access to inspirational residencies during school holidays as well as monthly regional orchestra rehearsals in the local area. As a charity, NCO is open and accessible for all young musicians living in the UK aged 7-14 years old, and we are pleased to offer financial assistance to support fee costs.

Many of our former members are in leading professional orchestras across the UK and further afield. NCO alumni includes winners of the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition, Guy Johnston (2000), Nicola Benedetti MBE (2004) and Martin James Bartlett (2014), as well as acclaimed conductors Robin Ticciati, Daniel Harding and Jonathan Bloxham.

We love to hear from all of our past members, so please keep in touch via our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, as well as the dedicated NCO Alumni Facebook page.

NCO has over 40 years of experience in training, nurturing and mentoring young musicians. Founded in 1978, our late founder, Vivienne Price MBE, envisaged an orchestra solely for young children to learn and developing alongside like-minded compatriots. Since then NCO has steadily grown from one orchestra to eleven, and has nurtured generations of the UK’s extraordinary young musicians.


When to audition

Auditions take place around the UK each October/November. Some of the audition venues change yearly – further details are published when audition applications are being accepted. All applications must be submitted online when you will have two choices: To apply for an in-person audition, by selecting the date and timeslots which best suits your needs, or you may be eligible to apply for a video audition.

Bookings for auditions generally open at the beginning of July and close at the beginning of September.

To be able to audition, you need to be 7-13 years old on the 31st August in the year you apply. We do not specify grades required, but do provide indication of NCO’s current standards by age and instrument which are a helpful guide. More information about eligibility is here.

We aim to make your audition a really relaxed and fun experience. There is no need to be nervous!

Late Auditions

Occasionally we have vacancies for certain instruments at other times of the year. Please contact us for more information.


https://www.nco.org.uk/join-in/start-here-