NYOS Training Ensembles 2019 - The Benefits of Ensemble Playing in Early Music Education

Young trombonist developing in the brass ensemble course


In response to demand for high quality instrumental training for musicians as young as eight years old and with the help of funding from Creative Scotland’s Youth Music Initiative, the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland launched its complete Training Ensembles programme in 2015 to include courses for wind, brass, percussion, and strings including provision for classical pedal harp (ABRSM grade 3, as a guide only).

String Training

Many young musicians across Scotland do not have the opportunity to play with other instrumentalists, especially if they live in rural communities or play an instrument that is less commonplace like the harp, tuba or a percussion instrument.

NYOS Training Ensembles comprise four, non-auditioned residential courses for strings, harp, woodwind, brass and percussion. The courses adopt a holistic approach focusing on musicianship, posture and other basics of good practice and each course culminates with a private showcase performance for friends and family. The courses are structured to help young people, who are not quite ready to reach the NYOS Junior Orchestra and progress through our pathway to the NYOS Senior and Symphony Orchestras.

The values of studying musicianship or learning to play an instrument from an early age have been well documented and these benefits include:

  • Language Development
  • Physical co-ordination and motor control
  • Integrating mental and physical activity
  • Demonstrating knowledge and understanding
  • Being expressive
  • Using creativity and imagination
  • Building self-belief and confidence
  • Nurturing emotional intelligence
  • Discipline
  • Learning to learn

However, the key to unlocking these benefits is progression. There are a range activities that support and inspire musical progression. One of the most fundamental of these is to develop from playing alone, to playing with others.

Brass players getting ready

With a common goal comes many benefits. Playing or singing in an ensemble can be one of the most rewarding and enjoyable musical experiences. In an ensemble, students learn to bring their individual accomplishments together to create something greater than themselves. Not only do the students work to play at the same speed, but to ebb and flow together, listening and watching for changes in mood, tempo, or harmony. They learn about their role in each part of a piece, whether to be bold and play loudly or to play quietly, gently adding to the texture. Participating in an ensemble helps bring balance and control, learn style, volume, note lengths and rhythms, and helps work towards the common goal of a polished performance.

Through this work we aim to fill a vital gap in provision, which many schools and local authorities struggle with due to cuts in local authority funding, particularly in areas of low cultural engagement.

Thanks to funding from Creative Scotland’s Youth Music Initiative, bursaries of up to 100% are available for participants who find it difficult to meet the costs of our membership fees. Each case is assessed individually, and all applications are treated in the strictest confidence. NYOS relies on support from Creative Scotland as well as Trusts and Foundations to maintain a Bursary Fund, therefore the total fund available varies each year.

With external support, the NYOS mission is to ensure that our work is open to young people from all backgrounds and circumstances each year and that no young person misses out on our life changing projects due to financial circumstances.

Applications to NYOS Training Ensembles are now open and take place between 12-20 July at Kilgraston School in Perthshire. For more details including fees, dates and bursary information please click here or for an Application Pack and Bursary Form please contact course manager Matthias van der Swaagh matthiasvanderswaagh@nyos.co.uk or call 0141 332 8311.