We are accepting applications for boarding and day places for Autumn 2020 entry. 

If you would like to find out more, including information about the Aided Places Scheme, please email admissions@st-marys-music-school.co.uk





Dr Valerie Pearson, Head of Strings



We have been very much a ‘Strings School’ right from the outset, when Yehudi Menuhin always used to refer to us as his ‘Sister School in the North’. Our teachers understand what good string playing is about: many of them have active playing careers and all have valuable experience getting the best out of pupils at all levels. 

One to one tuition

Instrumentalists receive up to two hours’ tuition each week (choristers receive up to 1 hour per week) on their principal study. This is in addition to their second study instrument. Pupils occasionally learn three instruments. Every Instrumentalist learns to play the piano. 

Dedicated accompanist

Pupils receive a coaching session each week with a member of the piano faculty - indeed it is a special feature that pupils have access to an accompanist throughout their time in school.

Practice and Performance

Practice Supervisors are often on hand to help with all musical matters. A weekly Alexander Technique lesson is also offered.

A weekly Performance Class allows opportunities to try out repertoire. Chamber Music, Orchestras & Ensembles are key components in each week’s timetable. There is an opportunity to explore any number of Performance Practice aspects in the last hour of each school week. Dalcroze and Kodaly are also explored as part of the Aural Programme

There are strong links with many orchestras and ensembles who routinely bring their music to our city. Indeed, we have many active partnerships, side-by-side opportunities, visits and masterclasses all the way through the year.


Pupils are formally assessed on technical matters, performance recitals and presentation throughout their time at St Mary’s Music School, except in their final year when the focus shifts to conservatoire/university auditions and public performance. 


Pupils participate in competitions, local, national and international and take ABRSM exams to gain experience and as a measure of progress. Our pupils have gained considerable success in high profile contests such as the BBC Young Musician of the Year and the BBC Jazz and Folk Awards along with the Moray Piano Competition, British Flute Society Competition and the Royal National Mòd. Pupils often work towards the Diploma of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music.   

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The viola is like a voice. In ensembles it fits seamlessly into different melodies and solo it has a beautiful, warm sound that you don’t really hear on other string instruments.

I love the lower register and the gorgeous tones I can create with it, also experimenting by creating different characters with the rest of my strings. Violas are the ‘middle’ instrument of the orchestra so you can copy and adapt different characteristics from the violin and cello too.

My highlights so far are definitely masterclasses with Lawrence Power and Tabea Zimmerman, which were inspirational, and travelling to Italy to take part in a chamber music course that included an amazing masterclass from Antonello Farulli. I’ve also taken part (and won prizes!) in many competitions and performed in large-scale productions with the RCS Juniors, including the COP26 Vital Signs of the Planet production.

 Daisy (S5) from Dunblane, Scotland


Strings Staff

Head of Strings:
Double Bass:

Instrumental Learning

Choir School

Saturday Music Classes


St Mary’s Music School is one of the nine specialist Music and Dance Schools the UK (and the only one in Scotland)  funded by the UK Government and providing the finest training in Britain. It is a co-educational, non-denominational specialist music school, offering a world class standard of music and academic education to musically gifted children aged 9-19 years. It is also the Choir School of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Edinburgh. It attracts day and boarding pupils from across Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Europe and internationally. 

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St Mary's Music School Trust Ltd, Registered No: 54504
St Mary's Music School Trust Limited is a charity No. SC014611
Registered Office: Coates Hall, 25 Grosvenor Crescent, Edinburgh EH12 5EL.