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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Instrumental Learning at St Mary's Music School

What you can expect

Individual Lessons

Up to 2 hours one-to-one teaching for a first study instrument and half and hour for second study

Individual instrumental or voice lessons form the core of our teaching. Every pupil will work with a specialist teacher on a one-to-one basis at least once a week for up to two hours in their first study instrument and half an hour in their second study.  This can vary depending on age, stage and number of instruments studied. This dedicated time, built in to the weekly timetable, allows every pupil to develop under the supervision and guidance of a principal teacher. Each pupil is further supported by a team of specialists through coaching, aural and performance classes. 


Every pupil is assigned an accompanist from S1 upwards

Every instrumentalist from S1 upward is assigned an accompanist to take care of all the performance requirements of studying at St Mary’s Music School.

From performance classes to auditions, assessments and exams, even televised broadcasts, your accompanist will follow your progress throughout. In addition, weekly coaching sessions are timetabled throughout the school year where this performing relationship can be nurtured.  Simply put, coaching is the supportive guidance of a pupil toward a performance, fostering a partnership where ideas flow back and forward with a view to creating a performance state where freedoms are encouraged. The aim is to help clarify and strengthen the pupils’ musical vision. On the way we work on rehearsal techniques, establishing tempi, leading and a fuller understanding of the score and the others’ parts.  Our highly experienced coaches also act as an extra set of ears alert to blemish, inaccuracy and uncertainty. 

The sessions boost confidence and work to give a more rounded version of a chosen work which in isolation can be confusing.  Through discussion, observation and musical response, a pupil will, with the aid of an experienced coach, be able to fashion a complete performance that is entirely their ‘own’. 

Performance Classes

An opportunity to develop performance skills in a safe space

Designed to act as a stepping stone between rehearsal and public concert giving, weekly Performance Classes offer a safe space for our pupils to work on presentation and performance anxiety. 

Allowing platform skills to be honed in front of a small, friendly audience of pupils (between 5 and 10), the class is facilitated by an experienced tutor/performer.  Those pupils acting as audience members are encouraged to develop their critical appraisal and share their experiences by way of supportive commentary. Playing to your colleagues, all of whom have a unique insight and understanding of the potential difficulties involved in performing, is an invaluable resource and one which undergraduates at the leading music colleges will be familiar.

Performance Practice

Regular connections with professional musicians and artists

The Performance Practice (PP) class takes place on a Friday afternoon in various forms and involves every pupil in the School either all together for a performance or in faculty groups for lectures, discussions and demonstrations.

The opportunity to explore aspects of performance with professional musicians is a vital part of the training we provide for aspiring musicians.  Of particular interest is the chance to discuss the positive and negative aspects of a performance, sharing the perspectives of the audience and performer in a constructive and safe environment of critical friends.  Performance is central to a musician’s life and pupils here need as many opportunities to prepare for and reflect upon performance as we can provide.

Talks and demonstrations have included instrument specific sessions, learning more about how a piano is made for instance and how best to care for stringed instruments. 

In a recent PP session the Head of Acting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland worked with seniors to consider ways to establish a connection and dialogue with an audience. Other topics include posture, breathing and health-related matters. Professional Dancers have also explored the idea of Performance Movement.

Events in the Cathedral are an essential platform for our pupils, particularly those who are less confident about performing; they have the support of their fellow pupils but the public can attend, and this gives an extra dimension to the experience.

Events at The Edinburgh Society of Musicians have been particularly successful; the environment, ambience and intimacy give pupils a real feeling of playing in an important concert; they respond well, present themselves professionally and some of the performances have been very memorable.

Music Assessments

Support and development

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


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.