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There are lots of different ways of participating in music – whether you want to learn an instrument, perform, compose or study. Everyone listens to music, so here are some different ways to get involved.

Learning an instrument

There are a multitude of different instruments and styles of music to learn. For traditional music there’s the Scots Music Group which offers classes to young people and adults of all abilities. In the Highlands, classes and workshops are available through Fèis Rois and also through Fèisean nan Gàidheal which also holds events throughout Scotland.

A list of private teachers teaching in all music styles can be found from your Local Authority Arts Officer. Many schools offer one-to-one lessons as well as group tuition.


There are plenty of opportunities for young people who already play an instrument and want to get involved in music-making. Each region of Scotland has its own youth music ensembles, and more information about these can be found from your school or Local Authority. There are also several national youth ensembles including the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, the National Youth Choir of Scotland, the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland and Camerata Scotland. These groups hold annual auditions across the country, and more information about these can be found on their websites. The saxophonist Tommy Smith leads his Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra, which is based in Edinburgh and can be contacted on ts@spartacusrecords.com.

Traditional ensemble opportunities can be accessed through the Piping Centre and the College of Piping, both in based in Glasgow.  On North and South Uist and Benbecula, you can continue your interest in traditional music through Ceòlas.

An organisation called Contemporary Music for Amateurs (COMA) which performs contemporary classical music has a Scottish group based at Heriot-Watt University. Making Music Scotland is an organisation that helps amateur choirs and orchestras all over Scotland that could help you find a suitable group in your area.

The Paragon Ensemble is a professional chamber ensemble based in Glasgow which performs throughout the country. In conjunction with the University of Glasgow, they offer courses in composition led by leading Scottish composers and other great opportunities for budding composers.

Studying music

You can study music at lots of different levels: Standard Grade; Higher Still and Advanced Higher; HNC, HND and degree level. Some of the main specialist music schools in Scotland are:

Information about higher and further education courses can be found on the institution websites. These courses range from specialist jazz or classical to music technology and music education. Courses are full-time or part-time and have different entrance requirements – there’s something for everyone! Websites to check out include:

More information
A useful contact is the Scottish Music Centre website which features a database of private teachers, musicians, professional and amateur music-making ensembles, community recording studios, along with radio stations and many other companies and organisations where you may be able to get some work experience.

Good luck!

Performers at Theatre Cryptic's Books of Silence; Photo: Maris Locmelis
Performers at Theatre Cryptic's Books of Silence; Photo: Maris Locmelis
Performers at Theatre Cryptic's Books of Silence; Photo: Maris Locmelis
A peephole; Photo: Maria Verdicchio; Courtesy of Theatre Cryptic
Violinist taking part in an SCO workshop; Photo: Douglas Robertson
Performers at Theatre Cryptic's Books of Silence; Photo: Maris Locmelis
Three fiddlers at Blazin' in Beauly 2003; Photo: Tom Baker
Cellist from the National Children’s Orchestra; Photo: Ian Watson
Trumpeter from North Edinburgh Arts; Photo: Mareike Holfeld
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