Skip to content

We Make Music


Scottish Chamber Orchestra

Spotlight On… Scottish Chamber Orchestra

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s innovative and imaginative Creative Learning Programme reaches more than 10,000 people every year. Ensemble music-making is at the heart of everything SCO do and their aim is to bring people together through music to enrich lives, promote wellbeing and foster creativity. SCO musicians and creative practitioners set out to create an atmosphere of trust, patience and positive regard for all, in order that participants feel heard, valued, and connected.

SCOs Creative Learning Programme 2023 – 2028

SCO’s portfolio of education and ensemble initiatives and their music in healthcare programme are delivered across a wide range of settings, including schools, hospitals and care settings and in communities right across Scotland for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. At the same time, SCO regularly offer entertaining concert programmes especially developed for children, families and school pupils that allow them the opportunity to enjoy high quality live music, perhaps for the very first time.

SCO are also committed to working with marginalised and minority groups and to delivering music and music-making activities designed to improve the lives of a diverse set of communities. These residencies offer music and cross-artform workshops and performances for residents of all ages and allow the Scottish Chamber Orchestra to become part of – and support – the wider cultural life of these communities. 

Underpinning this is SCO’s commitment to developing the skills and talents of the next generation of performers, creators, arts leaders and educators through our series of Pathways programmes. At the same time, SCO aim to invest in the ongoing professional development of their musicians and creative practitioners, to ensure the continuous development and improvement of their programmes and a flourishing, motivated team.

Photo by Fraser Band
Photo by Fraser Band


SCO in Craigmillar residency

See also: Life-long learning, Western European Art Music

SCO in Craigmillar is a five-year programme of creative projects and performances for residents of all ages in Greater Craigmillar, Edinburgh. Building on the area’s extraordinary history of Community Arts, the SCO aims to be part of a community-wide journey to re-energise creative activity with and for diverse groups, and for this residency to connect the community with a national cultural resource.

From September 2023, SCO will be entering year three of this residency which will involve the continued delivery of a schools programme to local nurseries, primary schools and the local high school, three ongoing community programmes and local performances by SCO ensembles and the full Orchestra.

Key objectives:

  • Enhance local school and community culture through positive interactions and a regular programme of music and music-making activity
  • Help reduce social isolation and improve wellbeing
  • Improve local people’s confidence
  • Bring live music-making to audiences who would not normally engage with the SCO
  • Support the development of transferable skills
  • Be part of a wider journey towards creative community activity

SCO ReConnect - Craigmillar 031 comp

Music in Healthcare


See also: Health/Wellbeing, neurodiversity, Western European Art Music

SCO’s ReConnect workshop programme comprises interactive, creative music sessions for people living with dementia, delivered by specialist workshop leaders and SCO musicians. It aims to improve patients’ and carers’ sense of wellbeing and quality of life, bringing people together through music to connect, communicate and enjoy spending time together. The programme provides a series of weekly music sessions in which dementia patients, together with visiting family members and NHS staff, are invited and supported to sing, play instruments, improvise and listen. The programme is delivered within NHS Lothian’s Royal Edinburgh Hospital and also as part of the SCO in Craigmillar residency, in partnership with a local Caring in Craigmillar, a day care centre providing specialised care for older people in the area.

Key objectives:

  • To use music and creative music-making to improve individuals’ sense of well-being, quality of life and social interaction
  • To support family members and carers to enjoy a shared experience with people they are caring for/loved ones
  • To encourage the use of music and music-making in a hospital / care setting in order to support person-centred care-giving
  • To help build a sense of community through music and music-making


New Vibe

See also: Health/Wellbeing, neurodiversity, Western European Art Music

New Vibe is a collaborative, creative music-making programme that supports young people with moderate to severe mental health problems, developed and delivered in partnership with NHS Lothian’s Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (out-patient unit).  New Vibe aims to encourage collaborative improvisation between those taking part where the focus is on trying out new ideas, building confidence and enjoying making music together. With the support of SCO;s committed team of professional musicians, young people develop their abilities to compose, improvise and perform in a safe and supported environment.

Key objectives:

  • Provide a safe space for young people currently using the CAMHS service to feel heard, supported and able to explore difficult feelings
  • Create a shared experience where young people are encouraged to develop musically and socially
  • Use music workshop practices to develop participants’ musical confidence, self-esteem and positive social behaviours

1K1A2659 comp

Early Years and Families

Family Festival: musical storytelling concerts

See also: Primary, Secondary, Parents and Carers, Western European Art Music

(SCO Family Festival- credit Sally Jubb)

In early 2023, SCO’s Creative Learning team commissioned a brand-new orchestral work for children and families from the SCO’s Associate Composer, Jay Capperauld, set to a story concept created by children’s author Corrina Campbell. This is the first time the SCO has commissioned a new work for children and the first time that the creative learning team has commissioned a writer to develop a new story concept for their concerts for children and young people. The new work created by Capperauld and Campbell is entitled The Great Grumpy Gaboon and features the full Orchestra as well as seven main characters, played by selected SCO musicians. The Great Grumpy Gaboon is a brand-new musical experience for children and families that emphasises the musicians themselves rather than relying on projected illustrations and a narrator to tell the story.

Key objectives:

  • Introduce and expose children to live orchestral music
  • Provide an immersive and relaxed concert experience that can be shared and enjoyed by families
  • Change perceptions of what orchestral music can be by presenting it in new and different ways
  • Bring an Associate Composer and SCO musicians into the heart of both creating and performing work for young audiences

293A5001 comp

Music Education (Secondary school pupils, Further and Higher Education students)

SCO Academy

See also: Primary, Secondary, Western European Art Music, Classical

(Photo credit – Sally Jubb)

The SCO Academy programme provides a unique opportunity for aspiring young musicians (aged 12-18) to complement their regular music-making activities by rehearsing and performing with the Orchestra under the guidance of SCO musicians, conductors and staff from St Mary’s Music School who are the SCO’s partners on this programme. There are no fees and no auditions and places are allocated through working in partnership with Instrumental Music Services who identify young people to put forward to the Academy.

SCO aim to run two Academy programmes per year, aligning with the Orchestra’s main season programme and ensure reach by touring the programme to different parts of the country, partnering with different Local Authority Instrumental Music Services.

Key objectives:

  • Provide a unique and fully mentored opportunity for young musicians to rehearse and perform in a professional orchestral environment
  • Provide quality performance opportunities for young musicians of all abilities and levels of experience
  • Provide a platform for participants to meet other young musicians
  • Encourage high aspirations and support musical development of young musicians
  • Provide a creative route to explore working together, using communication, expression and teamwork to lead to a growth of self-esteem 
  • Offer a platform for young people to grow in confidence by sitting next to professional players and working with internationally-renowned conductors

SCOimmerse27C©ChristopherBowen[76] comp


See also: Secondary, Western European Art Music, SQA Curriculum

(SCO Immerse- credit Christopher Bowen)

Immerse offers a free, live orchestral concert and unique learning experience for upper secondary school music pupils through the presentation of repertoire connecting classical and contemporary music. It is designed to inspire creativity and enhance understanding of musical concepts used in the repertoire.

Immerse 2023-2025 will feature The Origin of Colour by SCO Associate Composer Jay Capperauld and will feature Jay himself introducing the programme, in conversation with SCO musicians. Immerse 2026-2028 will feature the work of a contemporary, Scottish woman composer (TBC) to ensure a diverse approach to the ongoing development of this programme.  

Key objectives

  • Offer an impressive first live orchestral experience to young people through Introducing inspiring contemporary orchestral repertoire
  • Support music provision in secondary schools through providing an experience that will develop skills in aural perception and discrimination and compositional methods and knowledge and understanding of the creative process
  • Provide written resources to support pupils’ learning relating to music styles, concepts and analysis.
  • Ensure national reach through touring Immerse to different local authorities across a three-year cycle

Immerse ideas website image 1920x721px3

Open rehearsals

An opportunity for further and higher education music students to discover how great music comes together and experience the Orchestra’s rehearsal process through attendance at one of the Orchestra’s open rehearsals. This is a rare opportunity for students to watch a professional orchestra at work, see a performance take shape and observe how the Orchestra prepares for a public performance.

Starting from November 2023, three open rehearsals will be offered per Season.

Key objectives:

  • Provide an opportunity for students to gain understanding of how orchestras use the rehearsal process to prepare for performance
  • Support music provision in FE/HE courses through provision of exposure to professional orchestra practices and personnel

Ticket offers for schools and Under-18s

We offer complimentary tickets to school teachers and instrumental tutors who wish to bring groups of young people to SCO Season concerts. Free tickets are also available for Under 18s. Both these ticket offers are now more prominently highlighted on the SCO website and reminders of these tickets schemes are included in all regular e-news bulletins to schools.


Talent and Skills Development: Pathways programmes

Youth Assembly

The Youth Assembly will jointly serve in an advisory capacity to both the SCO and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO).  Members of this joint Youth Assembly will have a remit to identify priorities for developing, strengthening and deepening each organisation’s youth engagement and to contribute to the implementation of ideas and projects that support these priorities. In return, young people will gain valuable life and work experience as well as practical experience in leadership and governance.  

The National Performing Companies (NPCs) are committed to working in partnerships together to ensure our work complements each other. Having a joint Youth Assembly demonstrates a shared commitment to youth engagement and genuine investment in supporting an effective forum for young people’s voices and views.  

The first Youth Assembly will be recruited to start in September 2023 and this first cohort of young people (aged 18-23) will serve for an 18-month period.

Key objectives:

Members of the Youth Advisory Board will: 

  • Provide insight – use their knowledge of what appeals to young people to help both SCO and RSNO make decisions and develop new ideas  
  • Raise awareness – use their networks to help young people and those that work with young people understand and engage with the work SCO and RSNO  
  • Gain experience – of leadership and governance within the creative industries   

Creative Learning Traineeship

SCOs Creative Learning Traineeship is a unique opportunity for a musician at the early stages of their career to develop their workshop leadership and management skills in the context of the SCO’s creative learning programmes and projects, working with a diverse range of groups and settings through a year-long, paid training programme. This programme will begin in September 2023 and involve a cohort of up to six early career creative practitioners.

Key objectives:

  • Provide opportunities for early career music workshop leaders develop skills and confidence in developing and delivering music education and community music workshops and make a demonstrable impact on their professional development
  • Increase and extend SCO’s networks of workshop practitioners and support Trainees to develop their own professional networks


Soundbox is the SCO’s artist development programme that offers a platform for music creators from any musical and cultural background (including those not traditionally associated with the classical music world) to experiment with the chamber music format, expand their creative practice and explore new ideas, new sounds and new music. It is an opportunity for them to take essential time to explore and develop their work with guidance and support from the SCO’s team of mentors, led by the SCO’s Associate Composer Jay Capperauld.

The Soundbox programme, which runs over one year (from May to the following June), includes mentoring, a financial grant and a commission fee and brings together a small cohort of music creators per programme who work together to create new pieces of work for the Orchestra to share with audiences as part of our emerging Un:Titled concert series.

Key objectives:

  • Provide opportunity to invest in new music and regularly bring dynamic new artists into the SCO’s programme
  • Provide opportunity for music creators to progress in their professional pathways and make a demonstrable impact on their creative development
  • Address under-representation of different groups and communities within classical music composition and demonstrate SCO’s commitment to diversity in all areas of our programme
  • Increase and extend SCO’s creative networks and support Soundbox participants to develop networks of their own

How to get involved

If you want to get involved with the SCO find out more at-


Scottish Chamber Orchestra
4 Royal Terrace

Back to top