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.


Orchestras for All-Music Without Boundaries

Orchestras for All-Music Without Boundaries

Orchestras for All has a big vision: music without boundaries. Our mission is to unlock access to the life-changing experience of ensemble music-making for 11-18 years olds with complex lives.

The challenge
The importance of access to high quality musical experiences is widely accepted. Research shows us that music-making transcends educational ability, socio-economic status and disability; gives young people a unique way to express themselves; improves confidence and self-esteem, self-efficacy and cultural awareness and can provide a safe space for young people with challenging home or school lives. Ensemble music-making extends these benefits further, giving young people access to broad and diverse social networks and developing teamwork and communication skills.

Across the UK, a wealth of high-quality music-making opportunities for young people exists, both at local and national level. The government continues to fund the work of Music Education Hubs, applications to higher level music courses have risen from 25,000 in 2007 to 40,000 in 2016, and the benefits of music education are lauded: indeed, a longitudinal study published in 2018 found that ‘test scores on inhibition, planning and verbal intelligence increased significantly’ for primary school-aged children who had music lessons.
In spite of this, research from the University of Sussex, leading music researcher Professor Sue Hallam and Sound Connections for Arts Council England explore the range of barriers faced by young people in accessing existing music provision. Recent national studies and surveys have highlighted a significant decline in uptake of GCSE music, reduction of compulsory music at Year 9 and falling music staff numbers in state secondary schools.

A key challenge addressed by OFA is that young people who lack financial, social or cultural support repeatedly miss out on the unique opportunity of ensemble music-making and cannot experience all the non-musical benefits. A 2014 report by the National Children’s Orchestra noted that 70% of its successful state school applicants received private instrument lessons and a 2014 Youth Ensembles report conducted by the Association of British Orchestras concluded that 80% of youth orchestras charge an annual membership fee – one of only a range of significant barriers faced by a prospective young member.
With reduced support in school for music and music teachers expressing a sense of isolation, it is increasingly important that we continue to work with partners across the country to reach young people who would otherwise miss out on the life-changing experience of making music together. Many excellent youth music organisations exist in the UK and do valuable work with participants of varying needs, experience, skill levels, backgrounds and interests.

So, what makes Orchestras for All unique?

The solution
In 2011, Marianna Hay, former Director of Music at Highbury Grove School, set out to address the inconsistency of music provision and barriers faced by young people to accessing opportunities by forming the first National Orchestra for All for 40 11-18 year olds in 2011. Since then, Orchestras for All has evolved into three distinct and innovative programmes with the core aim of bringing the profound musical and social benefits of ensemble music-making to 11-18 year-olds with complex lives.

• We identify young people who lack opportunities to access ensemble music-making and have shown a dedication to music in the face of challenging circumstances
• We equip music leaders with the skills, resources and networks to establish inclusive ensemble music- making opportunities and, in the long-term, cultivate a culture of music-making in their community
• We collaborate with young people, music leaders, professional musicians and music organisations, and cultural venues to create exciting, innovative and inspiring events and performances around the UK, that express the identities of the young people we work with.

We do this through our three programmes:
National Orchestra for All: A unique, mixed ability youth orchestra comprising 100 young musicians with complex lives from across the UK, who come together throughout the year to learn, compose, rehearse and perform ensemble music. Find out more about the National Orchestra for All!

What makes us unique?
Inclusivity: We deliver our programmes in a flexible and inclusive way so they are accessible to all, regardless of instrument skill level, additional needs or background. We value commitment to music above ability and aim to provide high quality artistic experiences to young people at any point in their musical journey.

Wellbeing: We believe that, regardless of individual instrument skill level, ensemble music-making is uniquely placed to significantly improve personal and social skills, and as such, should be available to all. We are committed to ensuring the safeguarding and welfare of the young people we work with in all of our activities. We expect all of the adults we work with to demonstrate understanding and awareness of our expectations, and create a safe and supportive atmosphere for our participants.

Collaboration: We work with external artistic partners, freelance music arrangers and composers, workshop animateurs, cultural venues, social and additional needs experts, and a team of highly trained and experienced orchestral and pastoral tutors to ensure our programmes are delivered to the highest standard and give our participants positive and memorable experiences of music-making.

Ownership: We value and actively seek the perspectives of all our stakeholders in guiding the artistic output of Orchestras for All. We strive to continually develop our approach in placing the voices of the young people and music teachers with whom we work at the centre of our programmes. Our priority is giving participants a positive and memorable experience of ensemble music-making, sowing the seeds of long-term community belonging and musical identity.

Philip and Dorothy Green Young Artists Award

Philip and Dorothy Green Young Artists Award

Applications are now open for Making Music’s 2019 Young Artists awards.
The Philip and Dorothy Green Young Artists (PDGYA) awards help kick start the careers of artists by providing up-and-coming classical musicians with performing opportunities with Making Music’s 3,500+ member groups. The six chosen artists are promoted to our members for engagements at fixed rates (£250 for solo artists, £500 for artists with accompanists) subsidised by Making Music for up to 50 bookings each year.

Deadline: 10 February 2020

For more information, please visit:

eFlute Festival 2020 is hosted by Flute School London, a course renowned for its world-class guest artists and encouraging and friendly atmosphere. Our mission is to bring flute players of all ages and standards together during this difficult time and provide a platform for unity, sharing, inspiration and learning. We are aiming to offer all the elements of our usual course, keeping as much of it ‘live’ and as interactive as possible.

eFluteFestFlyereFlute Festival Poster 2020

How it will work
This is an ambitious project to deliver but we will be making the process very simple and user-friendly. Clear instructions will be emailed and all you’ll need is your flute, a computer and an internet connection!

eFlute Festival 2020 will run for a month, with interactive classes, social activities, online content added daily, and live zoom sessions run by our esteemed Guest Artists.

  • Warm-ups
  • Masterclasses
  • Workshops & Lectures
  • Artist Q & A’S
  • Tutorial Videos
  • Ensembles & Flute Choir
  • Competitions
  • Online Lessons
  • Games (Juniors)Living Room Concerts

eFlute Festival 2020 is a month-long event held exclusively online. Suitable for players of all ages and standards, there will be something for everyone!

The main festival will be running daily warm-ups and zoom classes, led by our Guest Artists. These classes will include masterclasses, seminars, interactive workshops, and concerts. Please see the schedule for full info.

Juniors will be able to attend the main festival (with parental permission) but also have their own zoom classes twice a week.
We will also be offering a huge ‘video bank’ of tutorials, messages and concerts, all of which can be watched at your leisure, and have been made especially for the event.

The sociable side of this event is very important to us too, so will be hosting quizzes as well as running a forum (break room) and a facebook page for people to connect. We will also be providing sheet music and support for anyone wanting to join an online ensemble or study group.

At the end of eFlute Festival 2020, we will attempt(!) a mass flute choir piece, arranged especially for the event.


eFlute Junior Festival 2020 (April 23 – May 21 2020)


eFlute Junior Festival Poster

BFS Flute Competitions February 2020 London-19th February 2020

BFS Flute Competitions February 2020 London-19th February 2020

We are delighted to announce that the BFS Competitions 2020 are now open for entries. The Competitions will be held at Regent Hall, Oxford Street, London on Wednesday 19th February 2020. We welcome young flautists to apply for this exciting performance opportunity, with advice and encouragement from our panel of expert adjudicators.

BFS School Performer: for performers aged 13 years or under.
Adjudicators: Sarah O’Flynn – Sub-Principal flute of the Britten Sinfonia and member of the Chroma Ensemble; Susan Torke – Flute teacher at the Junior Royal Academy of Music, worked closely with German composer Hans Werner Henze.

BFS Young Performer: for performers aged 14-18 years.
Adjudicators: Sarah O’Flynn – Sub-Principal flute of the Britten Sinfonia and member of the Chroma Ensemble; Susan Torke – Flute teacher at the Junior Royal Academy of Music, worked closely with German composer Hans Werner Henze.

BFS Young Artist: for performers aged 19-24 years.
Adjudicators: Hallfríður Ólafsdóttir – Principal Flute of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, conductor and founder of Maximus Musicus concerts and books for children; Silvia Careddu – Double prize winner of the Concours International de Musique de Genève, flute teacher at Hochschule für Musik ‘Hanns Eisler’ in Berlin and professor at the Conservatoire et Académie Supérieure de Strasbourg.

Accompanists: Richard Shaw and Joanne Sealey.

Closing date for entries: Friday 10th January 2020 at 5pm UK time.

Full details and bookings Link
Competition Rules Link

National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain-Apply

National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain-Apply

NYO believes in inspiring its teenage members with a sense of personal responsibility for giving world-class performances. That starts with giving them fantastic role models. Together we’re building the future of orchestral music.

Playing in NYO can be a life-changing experience. As an NYO Musician, you make incredible music, try out new ideas with the brightest young musicians in the country, and work with accomplished tutors at an exceptionally high standard. But that’s not all. Being part of the Orchestra helps you develop as team players and young leaders, encourages you to pass on your skills to other teen musicians, and helps you become more confident in taking risks. Plus you’ll make some of the best friends you’ll ever meet along the way.

NYO wants to give the UK’s most dedicated young musicians every opportunity to participate in our vibrant, challenging orchestra. We look for musicians and composers who combine considerable technical aptitude and flair for orchestral playing with a taste for adventure, open minds and a great team spirit. Our musicians have a responsibility not simply for themselves as performers but for each other and as ambassadors, encouraging other young musicians to deepen their relationship with orchestral music.

As a strictly teenage orchestra, we have the following requirements:

You will need to be between 13 and 18 on 1 September 2020 in order to apply for NYO 2021.

Unless you’re applying as a composer, you should be at Grade 8 dstinction level or equivalent. You will either need a copy of your certificate or mark sheet, or a letter from your instrument or music teacher to provide written confirmation that you are of the required standard.

You are a British citizen, or resident or studying in the British Isles.

You are not studying full-time at a college of music, or on a joint course with a music college.

You are available for all of the rehearsal residencies, tour dates and performances and between 5-10 days of NYO Inspire activity. In addition, we may ask if you would like to attend other activities that come up throughout the year. These will be voluntary. For musicians in the orchestral keyboard section, we will rotate all of these dates as the repertoire dictates. We ask that all applicants are available for the complete NYO calendar at audition stage; you can see these NYO activity dates here.

When you complete your application, there is space to let us know about any availability issues you may have. Once you have been scheduled an audition slot, please let us know within four weeks if you cannot make this date, venue or time. We will do our best to reschedule any auditions, but have extremely limited flexibility.
All auditions are offered completely FREE. Once we are four weeks away from the date, cancelled places become very difficult to fill. The actual cost of auditions to us is around £150, so if you have to cancel your place at the last minute we will ask you to make a donation towards this cost. Exceptional circumstances are, of course, always acknowledged and this is a suggested donation.

We have travel bursaries available to help with costs to and from the audition venue.

The audition experience aims to be positive and constructive and all auditionees will receive a workshop and written feedback. Bursaries are also available to cover the full cost of a place in NYO.

Financial information: costs and assistance

We can help you be part of NYO.

NYO subsidises every seat in the orchestra to a manageable level. We raise over £1.8m so that we can do this. Also we ensure that free places are available to musicians who need them.

For NYO 2020, we ask for a contribution of £2,142 from each musician. The actual cost of being part of NYO is £8,000, so your contribution represents around a quarter, and equates to the cost of accommodation and travel on tour.

If you are offered a place in NYO and require financial assistance to cover the contribution our bursary scheme will help you. Depending on your financial circumstances we will fund all of the contribution or some of it. We can also guide you in applying for support from other organisations.

If you would like to help fund NYO bursaries, please contact our development team.