Summer School FAQs

What is it?

The Sound and Music Summer School, now in its ninth year, is a partnership between the national charity for new music, Sound and Music and specialist music school, The Purcell School. Between us, we have many years of experience providing residential tuition and support for young composers. During the Summer School, up to 75 young composers aged 14 to18 will spend the week learning about all aspects of creating music, working with professional composers and musicians and using the specialist facilities of the Purcell School. You will have the opportunity to work in your own style of composition, explore different ways of making music and receive a CD of the piece of music you created. 

Where is it?

The course takes place at The Purcell School, Aldenham Road, Bushey, Hertfordshire WD23 2TS.You can get to the Purcell School by train or car and we will send full details and directions to everyone who is participating so that you can plan your arrival and departure well in advance. We will operate a minibus shuttle service between Watford Junction station and school on arrival and departure days.

When is it?

The Summer School 2019 runs 4 -10  August. You will need to arrive on Sunday 2 August by 2pm and leave on Saturday 8 August at 4.30pm.  There will be performances of everyoneís compositions on the Friday evening and during the day on the Saturday to which the families and friends of the Summer School participants are invited.  We consider listening to everyone elseís pieces to be an important part of the course and you will be expected to stay until 4.30pm on the final day, even if your piece is the first one to be performed on Friday evening. 

What kind of music?

Our composers and musicians have expertise in a huge range of music-making from conventionally-notated music to electronic music and from jazz to music for film. During the week, you will work in a group with composers and musicians who can work with you on your preferred style of music-making as well as having the opportunity to try out different styles and traditions. 

What experience do I need?

The Summer School is for young composers aged 14 to 18  who have a talent for composition, are enthusiastic about creating their own, original music and keen to learn more. You must be based in the UK, or a UK citizen living overseas.

What does it cost and assistance with the costs

Here at SaM, we are determined that everyone who is accepted on the course should be able to attend regardless of their family's circumstances. We ask those who can afford it for £500 to attend the Sound and Music Summer School, including all tutoring, accommodation, food and activities. We are committed to supporting all talented young composers and we have a means-tested grant scheme plus special bursaries available. As a guide, young people from families on low incomes claiming benefits will not be expected to pay anything; the means tested grant scheme also helps those families on higher incomes who may also be finding it hard to make ends meet.  

If you have any questions about the cost of the Summer School then please contact us and we will be happy to talk to you - we really do want to help you to come and have the most amazing week of music-making! 

Contact Judith Robinson if you would like to discuss support. 


The Summer School is open to anyone who is a British Citizen, or who is resident in the UK.

We select the 75 participants for the Summer School after the closing date (April 3) – places are not allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Whilst there is a selection process, we hope that this won’t put you off from applying.  We welcome young composers of all levels of development.  We’re looking for people who have tried composing and want to learn more, who can demonstrate their talent for composing and who are enthusiastic about creating their own, original music.

How to apply

You should apply online from the applications page of this website.

Submitting scores and recordings

All submitted scores should be pdfs, recordings should be mp3s.

The score is a requirement; submitting more than one doesn't put an applicant at an advantage, although the selection panel would find a second score of interest if it is very different to the first in some way. The recording is optional.

If you can’t upload your files to the online application form for some reason, then it's fine to e-mail them to Judith Robinson, or to post hard copies (to Sound and Music, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA).

There are examples of the different formats you could present your score in here.

Acknowledgement of applications

Online applications are acknowledged by an automatically-generated e-mail which goes to the first email address supplied on the form.  Please rest assured that all online applications are carefully checked by a human being and you will be contacted if the application is incomplete, or if there is any other kind of problem with it.

Any additional scores etc that arrive by e-mail will be acknowledged by e-mail, to the e-mail address it was received from.

We will also e-mail to anyone who has applied by post to confirm receipt, unless you have indicated that you don’t wish to be contacted by e-mail, in which case we will send acknowledgement by post.

If your application is incomplete or if there is a problem with any of the files, then we will contact you to request the files again.  Your application won't be rejected due to any problem of this nature, even if the application deadline passes between you submitting the application and us subsequently contacting you.

Additional needs and access requirements

The Purcell School catering staff can cater for most kinds of dietary requirements – please feel free to speak to us about this at any time, although there will be opportunity to let us know at the point when we ask participants to confirm their places.

We are committed to being inclusive of all young composers and aim to accommodate all educational or physical needs that applicants may have.  Judith Robinson is always happy to talk to young people and their parents at any stage to discuss any support or provision they might need, and to put minds to rest.

Can you coach me through GCSE/A Level music?

We have a fabulous week of creativity and music-making awaiting you, led by a diverse group of some of the best and most experienced composers and musicians in the UK!  The focus of the week will be to create a new, original piece of music that will be performed and recorded by the professional musicians supporting your tutor group.  We can’t coach anyone through any specific examination requirements such as submissions for AS or A level qualifications, which differ for every exam board and have very specific briefs. Instead, we will be encouraging you to look outside the box and develop a piece that is unique to your individual musical journey. Along the way, you will gain all sorts of new skills and creative ideas, as used by professional composers, that will be invaluable for your future music-making, including your school studies. You will also have a score and a recording that may be useful for composition portfolios including for applications to university and conservatoires.

In this project

Are you a young composer from Wiltshire?

This year, Sound and Music is working with Wiltshire Music Connect to offer bursaries so that young people living or at school in Wiltshire can attend this year's Summer School. Contact us for more information!

Wiltshire Music Connect logo

Support and celebrate the Sound and Music Summer School 2020 by making a donation.

With many thanks to the generous supporters of the Summer School

Radcliffe Trust logo


Foyle Foundation logo

Samuel Gardner Memorial Trust

D'Oyly Carte Charitable Trust

Lucille Graham Trust

Marchus Trust

Boris Karloff Charitable Foundation

Finzi Trust

Three Monkies Trust

You may also be interested in...

BBC Proms Inspire Young Composers' competitionVisit the BBC Proms Inspire website.

Go Compose Inspire Days & Masterclasses 

Alongside the main Summer School, this year we are also offering a series of online workshops and masterclasses open to young people not attending the week itself.

Held in the week before Summer School, our Go Compose Inspire Days (28th - 30th July 2020) are day-long online sessions are designed for young people with little to no experience of composing to explore songwriting, artist marketing, electronic music production and audio manipulation. You can find out more about these sessions here.

We will also be hosting a series of public, online masterclasses with external artists and organisations - watch this space for more details...


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