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 Piano Summer School 2024

Thank you for your interest in the International Piano Summer School. This programme is now full with no further applications being taken at this time.  

The Piano Summer School offers a comprehensive and broad-ranging programme aimed at talented pianists, aged 13 to 17, who wish to expand their horizons and playing capability.

Dates now confirmed: Sunday 4 August to Friday 9 August

This intensive course includes expert tuition, individual coaching sessions, solo performances, practice and performance opportunities with a chamber music coach, workshops in Alexander Technique, mindfulness, and yoga. It is designed to give a holistic introduction to the musical, mental and physical skills needed to grow as a pianist and is suitable for those who aspire to study at conservatoire, university, and professional level as well as those who simply wish to hone their skills in an atmosphere which is fun, supportive, and encouraging. 

Course programme includes: 

  • One-to-one lessons 

  • Collaborative work including Chamber Music sessions and coaching 
  • Introduction to Improvisation 
  • Daily group workshops featuring an introduction to Alexander Technique, how to improve your sight-reading, mindful practicing and memorisation 
  • Daily Yoga sessions 
  • Performance Classes 
  • Participation in final concert held in the magnificent St Mary’s Cathedral as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 
  • Informal concerts by staff and participants 

Who is the Piano Summer School for?

The course is suitable for pianists age 13 to 17, Grade 7 or above (ABRSM or Trinity) or who are playing at an equivalent level. Following a video submission, successful applicants will be invited to take part. 

You can find the application for at the bottom of the page. 

Key Staff

Principal Piano Teacher & Course Director: Helena Buckmayer 

Acclaimed pianist, Helena Buckmayer is a highly specialised expert in piano technique. By eradicating unwanted tension from an early age, she aims to enable every pupil to play in an effortless, pain-free way by combining highly sophisticated movements with musical expressions allowing uncompromised artistic involvement. She has taught students at St. Mary's Music School, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, St Andrew's University, University of Washington, USA.  She has consulted for various British institutions, has a busy international studio being a regular course leader. The vast majority of her pupils move on to study at top conservatoires including Conservatoire Amsterdam, Hochschule für Musik in Dresden, Royal College of Music, Royal Academy etc. with many being prizewinners at national and international competitions including Piano Competition in Seville, London Online Piano Competition, Loretto Steinway Competition, Luigi Cerritelli. To share her expertise, Helena has been appointed the Presidency of World Piano Teacher Association- UK-Scotland.

As a soloist, recitalist and chamber musician Helena  has toured throughout Europe, North America and Japan with several concerts being broadcast on television and radio, playing in venues such as Ulmer Kornhaus, Frankfurter Dom, Schloss Illertissen, Usher Hall, Queen’s Hall, Kobe Concert Hall, Matsue Concert Hall and Hamamatsu Concert Hall. On numerous occasions, her playing has been described as lyrical and poetic   (Suddeutsche Zeitung) and having an almost elfin musicality (Broadway) while performing with orchestras such as Wurttembergische Philharmonie, Augsburger Philharmoniker, Sewannee Symphony Orchestra, Collegium Musicum, Orchestra of the Canongait and others  conducted by renowned Philip Jordan, Roberto Paternoster, Kenneth Kiesler, Henning Kussel and more. Helena herself was a prizewinner at Yamaha competition and Jugend musiziert, Germany’s biggest youth platform. She has been privileged to have been taught by world renowned professors  Bela Siki (Seattle),  who was Dinu Lipatti’s assistant,  Gyorgy Sebok ( Bloomington), Edna Golandsky ( NYC) and Bernard Roberts (RCM, London).

Piano Assistant: Anna Michels


Praised by critic David Smythe for her ability to “dance across the keys with spirit”, Anna Michels is a Scottish-Dutch pianist who combines her love of performing and teaching in a multi-faceted career.

Anna is a graduate of Maastricht Conservatoire where she studied a double Bachelor in Piano with Dr. Katia Veekmans, and Music Theory with Dr. David Lodewyckx and Inge Pasmans. During her time in the Netherlands, Anna was a prizewinner of international competitions, both as a soloist and chamber musician. These include prizes at the Prinses Christina Concours, the International Anton Garcia Abril Chamber Music Competition, the International Swedish Duo Competition, the Scando Vocallis Lied Duo Prize, and the Maastricht Concerto Competition.

Her passion for unearthing hidden treasures of the classical repertoire, with a focus on Scottish composer Ronald Center, has culminated in giving lecture-recitals internationally, including at the London International Piano Symposium and Musica Scotica Conference.

Born in Scotland, Anna began piano lessons at the age of seven, and studied with Professor Heather Slade Lipkin at the Junior Academy of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, before moving to St Mary’s Music School in 2013. There she made her debut concerto performance with Schumann’s Piano Concerto in the Edinburgh Music Festival Final, as well as winning the Director’s Recital Prize. She was a prizewinner of numerous national competitions, including the Rotary “Young Musician Competition”.

Anna is a recipient of the Cross Trust and was awarded the Falkirk Civic Trust ‘Young
Personality of the Year’. She is currently studying for her Master’s in Piano Performance at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland with Head of Keyboard, Aaron Shorr. 


Chamber Music Assistant: Richard Montgomery

Richard Montgomery is a violinist from Glasgow with a particular passion for chamber music. His formative music education was at St Mary’s Music School where he studied with Andrea Gajjic. He then completed his undergraduate degree with a First Class Honours at the Royal Academy of Music, studying with Richard Ireland, artistic director of ChamberStudio. While at the Academy he was awarded the Poulett Scholarship and Regency Prize for excellence. Upon graduating, he spent a year in the Netherlands learning from Yuzuko Horigome before returning to the UK to work at the Purcell School.

Richard performs all across Europe in orchestras, chamber ensembles, and as a soloist. Additionally, he has been coached by some of the world’s finest chamber musicians, including by members of the Doric, Ysaye, and Guarneri string quartets. He brings these insights into his work with talented young musicians, encouraging a spirit of enthusiasm and inquisitiveness towards the chamber repertoire.


Workshop Coordinator: Philip Sharp


Philip, a distinguished soloist, has graced esteemed venues such as Wigmore Hall, St Martin-in-the-Fields, and St John's, Smith Square. His international presence extends to notable festivals like the 'Festival Pianistico Bartolomeo Cristifori' in Italy, complemented by live broadcasts on BBC Radio 3. As a 2017 Park Lane Group Artist, he delivered captivating recitals in London. Notably, Philip was the sole British pianist chosen for the prestigious 2020 Orléans Piano Competition.

Nurturing a passion for contemporary music from his mentor Dr Murray McLachlan, Philip premiered works by rising British composers and tackled seminal piano pieces of the last three decades. Highlights include performances of George Benjamin's 'Shadowlines' at Wigmore Hall and Thomas Ades' 'Traced Overhead' at the RNCM Gold Medal Competition. Awarded the Ronald Stevenson Scholarship at Chetham's International Piano Summer School, he showcases his versatility through virtuoso piano transcriptions, such as 'Nessun Dorma,' featured on Classic FM and in the film '"L'amour à l’œuvre” depicting Gustav Klimt's romantic life.

Philip's collaborative prowess shines through his role as a chamber musician and collaborative pianist. From 2017-2019, he held the John Wilson Junior Fellow in Accompaniment at the RNCM. Notably, alongside saxophonist Emma McPhilemy, he received recognition from both the Countess of Munster and Concordia Foundation Recital Schemes in 2018. His collaborations extend to renowned musicians like Callum Smart and Ian Bousfield, former Principal Trombone of the London Symphony and Vienna Philharmonic orchestras.

Graduating with First Class Honours from Manchester University and the RNCM in 2016, Philip pursued a joint course. His academic journey, guided by Dr Murray McLachlan and Prof. Frank Wibaut, included a distinction in his Master's. Generous support from organizations like The Scottish International Education Trust, The Cross Trust, The Caird Trust, Dewar Arts Awards, and the Draper's Company Scholarship facilitated his educational pursuits at the RNCM.


Location and Facilities 

St Marys 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 Piano 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. 

As well as making use of our fleet of pianos, including a new Model B Steinway, 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. 


Financial Support

The Piano Summer School is a fully inclusive residential course with a fee of £875 (Travel not included but funding is available).

Funding is available towards fees and travel expenses. Please contact Dr JoAnna Collings, Bursar at bursar@smms.uk for more information.  


Applications are now open. Please click on the link below to complete the application form:

Application Form

Please note the closing date for applications is 7 June 2024.

If you have any questions, please contact our admissions department.  



"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? 




What Students Say...  

Myrsini K

It was a great experience in every respect. Apart from the interesting and educative masterclasses and piano lessons, I also enjoyed enormously all those innovative courses, like the performance classes, yoga (the best way to start each day!) and Alexander technique. It' s rare to find so many high-level classes in one academy!! I'm glad I got the opportunity to attend St Mary's Piano Summer School! Many thanks to all - I hope to see you again! 


Anika D

I had a very enjoyable experience. I got lots of detailed advice from the masterclass and of course from the performance class and the one to one lessons too. All of this helped me improve my pieces immensely. Also, I learnt how to stay relaxed and use my breathing to help me during a performance. This was my first time learning about the Alexander technique and it was very useful. From this opportunity, I got lots of beneficial advice and learnt new techniques to help with practise and performances. Thank you for this opportunity and I'm looking forward to see you all again! 


Amber Y

It was a wonderful experience for me! I really loved the yoga lessons, it taught me how to know my body better, to be in the moment. The masterclass, private lessons, and the performance helped me improve in my pieces, I got a new perspective from hearing my classmates and teachers give me advice. It really boosted my confidence in my music, made me more comfortable playing in front of other amazing players. The Alexander Technique was new to me, but it is interesting to have a new take on music and posture. I am honoured to be in this class, thank you to all teachers and classmates, keep in touch! 


Some reviews from our 2023 Piano Summer School

“I would definitely recommend this course to other people because it helps you grow as a musician, not just a pianist, because you collaborate with others, you improve your posture, you improve basically everything.” 

 “I really enjoyed having lessons because you didn't feel intimidated or scared to ask questions about things. I felt very open in being able to just play and not be worried about making mistakes. The teachers were very open about things and really encouraged you.”

"It was a great experience. I liked all the different lessons. Suprising were yoga and Alexander Technique."

"Exceeded my expectations...the organisers were really friendly and welcoming. I had a great time."

"...I felt that it was the place that I should be....the standard of teaching was absoultey fantastic at all times...duo coaching was a particular highlight for me"



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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Registered Office: Coates Hall, 25 Grosvenor Crescent, Edinburgh EH12 5EL.