Bristol Plays Music offers a variety of bursaries and subsidised instrumental opportunities for children and young people in Bristol schools.

Summer Schools 2021

Apply here for bursaries for Brass Week and Sing the Musicals!

Music Centre Bursary

Students whose family financial circumstances present a barrier to accessing music education can apply for a bursary to join one of our ensembles, bands, orchestras or choirs. The bursary covers the full cost of annual membership of one of the following ensembles and choirs:

Bristol Choral Centre Bristol Music Centre, West Bristol Centre for Musicians
Bristol Youth Choir – Juniors & Intermediates Starter Strings Bristol Bridge Orchestra
String Group Bristol Youth Chamber Orchestra
Bristol Wind Band Bristol Youth Wind Ensemble
Bristol Junior String Orchestra
Bristol Youth Jazz Orchestra
Flute Group

Music Centre Passport

If your child attends more than one ensemble, the Bursary Scheme will cover the cost of a Music Centre Passport for the academic year.

How to Apply

Please see the information at the bottom of this page for eligibility criteria and the application form.

Bristol Beacon’s Young Companies in Residence – Bursary Award

Young Companies in Residence

Bristol Plays Music’s programme includes two flagship ensembles, Bristol Youth Orchestra and Bristol Youth Choir – together they form ‘Bristol Beacon’s Young Companies in Residence’.  Each ensemble rehearses weekly during school term time (approximately 30 rehearsals annually) and plays in multiple performances at venues throughout Bristol and beyond.  The aim of each ensemble is to:

  • Support young members of the orchestra or choir to realise and fulfill their full potential by supporting their musical development
  • Provide talented young musicians with world-class musical tuition
  • Encourage and support a professional career in music
  • Help young people to develop life skills such as communication, team working, time management and leadership whilst building emotional intelligence, confidence and mental well-being.

Bristol Youth Orchestra

Bristol Youth Orchestra is the city’s leading youth orchestra for the most talented young musicians in Bristol (ages 12-18, entry grade 7+ upon audition). The orchestra, conducted by Tim Harrison, rehearses weekly and performs the great works of the orchestral repertoire as well as ambitious new commissions. Bristol Youth Orchestra is a member of the Association of British Orchestras and works closely with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and British Paraorchestra to give young musicians a professional orchestral experience, nurture talent and support careers in music.

Bristol Youth Choir

Bristol Youth Choir currently has 113 young members from all over Bristol and is made up of three choirs:  the Junior and Intermediate Choir (aged 7-12), Senior Boys’ Choir and Senior Girls’ Choir (aged 12-19).  The choirs, directed by David Ogden, Martin Le Poidevin and Elinor Cooper, sing choral music of all styles and perform in at least five concerts a year.  Bristol Youth Choir has appeared in the BBC Proms, on BBC Breakfast, The One Show and BBC One’s Songs of Praise.

Bursary Award

Membership of a YCIR ensemble is by audition only and for families with a financial situation that presents a barrier to accessing a music education, the Bursary Award enables students to join these flagship ensembles. The bursary covers the full cost of annual membership of the BYO or the BYC. To apply please refer to the information below and complete a Bursary Award application.

Bursary Funders

We are pleased to announce the Young Companies in Residence Bursary Awards for members of the Bristol Youth Orchestra and Bristol Youth Choir. These bursaries will allow BPM to cover the music centre fees for successful applicants for the academic year.  They have been made possible through the generosity of:

  • The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation
  • The Paragon Music Trust

Apply for a Bursary

Eligibility Criteria

  • Open to students between the ages of 7-18, living and attending school in Bristol
  • Students who have demonstrated excellent progress and potential within their ensemble and through the Bristol Plays Music teaching programmes
  • Strong ambassadors for Bristol Beacon’s ‘Young Companies in Residence’
  • Students whose family financial circumstances presents a barrier to accessing music education (gross annual household income of less than £25,000, or are in receipt of a means-tested benefit, for example Universal Credit)
  • Students in receipt of free school meals

Conditions of Bursary Award

If you receive financial assistance from BPM you will be asked to:

  • Participating in events publicising Bristol Music Trust
  • Contribute to the development of Bristol Plays Music by taking part in evaluations through case studies and youth voice
  • Provide feedback on your musical experiences at least once a year

How to apply

  • Please complete a Bursary Scheme application form and send to or post to Bristol Plays Music, Stanton Road, Southmead, Bristol, BS10 5SJ

Evidence of your child’s musical progress, including both:

  • A letter of recommendation from a teacher or tutor with details of abilities, progress and/or performances
  • A personal statement from the student about how this bursary will help towards their musical goals

Details of your financial situation and any supporting evidence, which could be in the form of:

  • Letter from HMRC or the Department for Work and Pensions
  • Free School Meal confirmation from school or local authority

Supporting evidence will be requested annually.

Applications can be made at any point during the year. We will aim to make decisions within 10 working days. Bursaries are dependent on the availability of funds so apply early to avoid disappointment.

Help with Instruments

Bristol Plays Music is able to offer instrument hire for young musicians across Bristol who participate in music lessons in Bristol schools or who play in one of our Music Centre ensembles.

Instrument Hire Costs

Instruments Hire Charge (per double term)
Band A Violin, Viola, Guitar, Ukulele £20 per double term
Band B Cello, Double Bass, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Saxophone, French Horn, Cornet, Trumpet, Trombone, Euphonium, Tuba £30 per double term

If your child is in receipt of a Bursary Award or Free School Meals, they are eligible for free instrument hire.  Please contact us to discuss availability of instruments.

Please see our Instrument Hire page or more information.

School Lessons

Primary Schools – Funded Instrumental Music Lessons

Earthsong Foundation funds instrumental music lessons for a minimum of 8 children in each year 4 class following a year of Whole Class Instrumental Tuition.

Earthsong starts in Year 2 in September 2019 in the following schools:

  • Ashley Down Federation Schools
  • Ashton Vale Primary School
  • Bridge Farm Primary School
  • Brunel Field Primary School
  • Cabot Primary School
  • Evergreen Primary Academy
  • Fonthill Primary Academy
  • Horfield CEVC Primary School
  • Minerva Primary Academy
  • Parson St Primary
  • St. Mary Redcliffe CEVC Primary School
  • St. Patricks Catholic Primary
  • Stoke Park School

Secondary Schools – Instrumental Music Lessons

Bristol secondary schools are given an annual subsidy by Bristol Plays Music, which Heads of Music may use to subsidise individual or shared instrumental/vocal lessons. Alternatively, if your child’s school is in receipt of Pupil Premium for your child, they may be able to use this to support their music education. Please speak to your child’s school about these options.


We’re changing

On Wednesday 23 September 2020 Colston Hall changed its name to Bristol Beacon, and this means we’re changing too.

Bristol Plays Music is run by Bristol Music Trust, the charity that also runs the venue formerly known as Colston Hall. These two organisations will soon unite under one name: Bristol Beacon.

Click below to find out more about how we’re changing, watch our name announcement, and discover how we want everyone to share in the joy of live music.

More info Enter site