Our focus is on one-to-one instrumental lessons with specialist professional musicians, many of whom combine teaching with their performing careers. These intensive sessions are designed to improve technique and musicianship, introduce repertoire, develop expression and encourage personal interpretation.

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.

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 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. 

  Practising, the first in a series of four short films bringing the advice of a famous composer to life

David Smith (then S6): BBC Young Musician of the Year Concerto Final 



Woodwind Staff