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




The Seven Hills Project

A New Music Project in anticipation of St Mary’s Music School’s 50th Birthday 

The Seven Hills Project is an exciting initiative which leads up to our fiftieth anniversary celebrations in 2022/23. It combines original poetry by Alexander McCall Smith, commissions of chamber music by seven composers and a major work for orchestra and choir, written by Sir James MacMillan CBE. It will form an exceptional body of work which not only celebrates our fifty years, but also pays tribute to our home of Scotland’s capital – the beautiful city of Edinburgh.

The Seven Hills Project logoIn the words of Paul Stubbings, our Director of Music “The initial idea for The Seven Hills Project came about because we wanted to celebrate not only our 50th birthday but also the wonderful city of Edinburgh that we are fortunate to call our home. It was important to find a way to encourage new music making to support the exceptional talent that exists in Scotland and also to extend the project to young musicians and school children throughout the city and beyond. We were delighted when Alexander McCall Smith agreed to be involved and we are looking forward to the combination of poetry and music which will bring each of our celebrated hills to life."

The first stage of the project has been the creation of seven poems by Alexander McCall Smith, one of Scotland’s most renowned authors and a great supporter of St Mary’s Music School. Inspired by Edinburgh’s unique landscape, each poem is dedicated to one of the landmark hills that surround the city. These are:

Arthur’s Seat, Blackford Hill, Braid Hills, Calton Hill, Castle Rock, Corstorphine Hill,  Craiglockhart Hill.

Using these poems to build upon, seven composers with connections to Scotland and St Mary’s Music School will be commissioned to write a chamber music work with the first concert planned for June 2021 featuring ‘Arthur’s Seat’ by composer Jay Capperauld. 

The project will culminate in 2023 with a concert at the Usher Hall and performance of a new work, specially written for St Mary’s Music School by our Vice-President, Sir James MacMillan.

As well as involving our pupils and alumni, The Seven Hills Project will include workshops for schoolchildren in different locations throughout Scotland.

Dr Kenneth Taylor, Headteacher at St Mary’s Music School said “St Mary’s Music School has been educating the choristers of St Mary’s Cathedral since 1880 and in 1972, we began to offer specialist music education for talented young instrumentalists. We wanted to celebrate our fifty years by creating a project that championed new music, creativity and composition, that built on our partnerships with composers and authors, and one in which our whole school community and school children in different areas of Scotland could become engaged.  This is just the very start and I am excited to see how The Seven Hills Project will develop over the coming months.”

The Seven Hills Race Challenge - Dr Taylor leads by example

To kick off the fundraising element of this campaign, Dr Taylor decided to lead by example and took on the challenge of running the Seven Hills Race 2020. Due to social distancing restrictions the race took the format of  each competitor running the course individually and submitting their times.  Dr Taylor’s challenge was to complete the course in a time of two hours and twenty minutes which allowed him 20 minutes for each hill!  The course is just 14 miles and includes over 2200 feet of ascent.

 It includes each of Edinburgh's famous seven hills: 
  • Calton Hill
  • The Castle (esplanade) 
  • Costorphine Hill
  • Craiglockhart Hill (East)
  • Braid Hill​​​​​​​
  • Blackford Hill 
  • Arthur's Seat

About the Race




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.