Help us shape the modern orchestra

to be more inclusive, creative... Awesome!

Why be part of the National Open Youth Orchestra?

The National Open Youth Orchestra brings many opportunities. Playing with amazing musicians, feeling a sense of belonging, improvising and being creative with music, are some of the reasons young people enjoy being part of NOYO.

This is the first orchestra I have ever fitted into. I normally feel like I don’t fit in but I do in NOYO.

National Open Youth Orchestra musicians are supported to realise their musical potential through one-to-one lessons, rehearsals and concerts, in partnership with the Barbican and Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London, Bristol Music Trust’s National Centre for Inclusive Excellence in Bristol, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in Bournemouth, Midlands Arts Centre, Town Hall Symphony Hall and Services For Education in Birmingham.

Within the National Open Youth Orchestra, we play from notation, but also learn by ear. Because our orchestra is so diverse, our approach to music is very collaborative, guided by musicians’ abilities and creativity. We develop exciting new music with cutting-edge composers, with NOYO musicians very much influencing the process.

It’s a progression route

The National Open Youth Orchestra is for young disabled people either with physical impairments and/or learning disabilities who either already play music using acoustic or electronic instruments, OR already control assistive technology or a communication aid (such as an Eyegaze computer) to a standard that could translate to playing an electronic instrument such as the Clarion.

It’s also for young non-disabled people who already play an acoustic or electronic musical instrument with fluency and flair.

All NOYO applicants need to demonstrate a passion for music, the potential to play a musical instrument with a high degree of control and expression, and a determination to persevere both musically and personally.

I like being in NOYO because they have taught me so much. It has helped me to build my confidence performing and being around others.

Hear it from NOYO musicians

Ella plays the Clarion. Check out her innovative digital instrument, and listen to her Mum Kim’s reasons for supporting Ella through her journey with NOYO and music. With big thanks to Cesca Eaton for the film.

Transcript for the video of NOYO Clarion player Ella

Jaidon plays electric guitar, acoustic guitar and bass, and talks about why it’s worth applying. This video contains some audition footage. With big thanks to Tom Holman for the filming and Bertie Gibbs for the editing.

Transcript for the video of NOYO guitar and bass player Jaidon

Alumni Abbie gives great tips about how to prepare for the audition. This video contains some of her audition footage. With big thanks to Tom Holman for the filming and Bertie Gibbs for the editing.

Transcript for the video of NOYO alumni Abbie

Lizzie who plays in various music groups gives an insight into why she considers the National Open Youth Orchestra to be one of the most creative.

Transcript for the video of NOYO violinist Lizzie

Apply now

Applications to audition for the National Open Youth Orchestra open once a year around spring.

We call out for talented 11–25 year-old disabled and non-disabled musicians on acoustic or electronic instruments.

Alongside Members, we also take on Trainees: disabled young people with musical potential who we support for up to three years to develop the skills and confidence needed to join the orchestra.

During the audition process, we will decide whether to offer candidates a place as Member or Trainee. The application process and the form to fill is the same for everyone.

If you’d like to receive an alert about future applications for auditions and deadlines, please email

To prepare for next year’s round, it’s useful to check out last year’s Applicants Information Pack. It gives a lot of information about being in the National Open Youth Orchestra, and how to apply.

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