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




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International Strings Summer School 2022

7th to 12th August 

Led by our Head of Strings, Dr Valerie Pearson, and supported by members of our String faculty and professional chamber players, this residential course offers participants an immersive and exciting week of wide-ranging musical experiences and expert tuition in the fields of solo, duo, chamber and large ensemble playing. Additional performance classes, individual coaching, yoga, and Alexander Technique create a full programme designed to provide all-round support for a talented young player setting their sights on taking their playing to the next level. 

Participants will develop their individual playing in daily lessons with a member of the St Mary’s Music School String faculty, coaching with piano staff, performance classes, opportunities to work with the piano course participants and a concert opportunity. We are delighted to also offer exceptional specialist coaching with professional chamber players in chamber and large ensemble playing, as well as the opportunity to perform in a final concert, which parent and guardians are invited to attend. 


Course programme includes:

The Course is residential and includes:

  • Daily one-to-one lessons with St Mary’s Music School teachers
  • Chamber coaching and large ensemble playing with professional chamber musicians
  • Individual coaching
  • Performance classes
  • A chance to work with participants on the Piano Summer School
  • Concert opportunities – solo, and chamber and large ensemble
  • Alexander technique
  • Relaxation/mindfulness/daily yoga
  • Use of the School’s library and practice facilities
  • Evening activities including concerts
  • Food and accommodation in single or twin ensuite rooms

The course takes place at our home in the heart of Scotland’s beautiful capital city, Edinburgh.

Who is the International Strings Summer School for?

The course is suitable for violinists, violists and cellists age 12 to 17, Grade 7 or above (ABRSM or Trinity) or who are playing at an equivalent level. Numbers are limited to just 16 participants (four string quartets) to ensure that participants receive dedicated and focused attention and benefit from a comprehensive range of group and individual classes.

Following a video submission, successful applicants will be invited to take part. 


Whilst we fully intend to deliver this course in person at our premises in Edinburgh, if restrictions preclude this, we will provide a digital online course as an alternative. 





Course Director and Violin - Dr Valerie Pearson

Valerie completed her studies at King’s College London, studying violin with Diana Cummings at the Royal Academy of Music, and composition with Sir Harrison Birtwistle. Diana's teaching gave her a deep understanding of the physiology of playing, which completely transformed her relationship with the violin, and has been a huge influence on her teaching.

She has built a strong reputation for establishing sound foundations in young players, eradicating tension, maintaining healthy posture and has developed many young players from the very beginnings to places in the National Children’s Orchestra, National Youth Orchestra and Music Conservatoire.

Valerie has enjoyed a wide-ranging career as a performer, composer and improviser and has premiered new works in festivals across the UK and Europe. Her interests in the intersections between performance, composition, improvisation and teaching formed the basis of her doctoral research supervised by Professor Nicola LeFanu and Professor William Brooks at the University of York, supported by Nonhebel and AHRC.



Violin - Francis Cummings

Francis Cummings was born in Scotland and studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, the Royal Northern College of Music and later completed a post-graduate degree in Musicology at the University of Leeds. As a founding member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, he has worked extensively with some of the most eminent conductors and soloists of our generation appearing in festivals throughout Europe, Japan, Australia, and the USA. In the UK he has worked regularly with a number of UK orchestras often as a guest principal and was a member of the Goldberg Ensemble, a group that latterly specialized in contemporary music.

A passionate and committed educator, Francis has held teaching posts at the University of Huddersfield, Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

He was Director of Music at St Mary’s Music School in Edinburgh before taking up post as Director of Music for Sistema Scotland where he designed and shaped the curriculum and was instrumental in the founding of children’s orchestras in four Scottish cities.

In summer 2018 Francis took up the post of Head of Junior Conservatoire at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland but continues teaching commitments at St Mary’s Music School.

Francis serves on the board of the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland and as a trustee of the Benedetti Foundation.



Location and Facilities

St Mary's Music School is one of five specialist music schools in the UK, designated by the UK government as providing the highest standard of music training and development. The School is located right in the heart of the stunning city of Edinburgh, capital of Scotland and home to the world-famous Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh International Fringe Festival. Both will take place during the time of the Strings Summer School and provide a stimulating backdrop for the learning and cultural experience of every student on the course. 

Access to the School is easy with a quick journey by tram, bus or taxi from Edinburgh International Airport which is just 20 minutes away and has direct access to airports throughout the UK and abroad. Haymarket train station is just two minutes walk away. 

Students will enjoy all the facilities of this historic school, including twin ensuite bedrooms (sharing with one other student), beautiful gardens, sports court and table tennis and pool tables. 


"Edinburgh - The most beautiful of all the capitals of Europe" Sir John Betjeman 

A perfect place for family and friends 

Did you know? Edinburgh Festivals peak during August with more than 25,000 artists and entertainers with over 1,000 shows per day. And St Mary's Music School is right in the heart of it all. So while you're hard at your study why not bring along parents and friends and let them discover what's on offer? 


The Strings Summer School is a residential course and the cost is £795. This is fully inclusive of food, accommodation and access to all facilities at the school. 

Financial Support

A limited amount of bursary funding is available. Please contact Dr JoAnna Collings, Bursar at bursar@st-marys-music-school.co.uk for more information.  

We have compiled a list of trusts and funding bodies who may be able to help if you require financial support. You can access this here. SMMS_Funding_Directory.pdf


The deadline for registraton is June 5th however we strongly encourage early applications to ensure a place. 


If you have any questions regarding the Strings Summer School please contact Becky Verdon bverdon@st-marys-music-school.co.uk



Information for Parents

Edinburgh is Unesco World-Heritage site and one of the world’s most beautiful cities. As well as stunning architecture to admire, there are excellent shops, restaurants and visitor attractions. The city also makes an excellent base to explore other areas of Scotland including the Highlands and Islands, so while your child focuses on developing their instrumental techniques you can happily spend a few days sightseeing. We hope you will join us for the concert at the end of the week. 



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.