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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.

NOYO musicians benefit from one-to-one lessons and group rehearsals, in partnership with the Barbican and Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London, and in the South-West with Bristol Music Trust, the National Centre for Inclusive Excellence and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

Within NOYO, 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

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

Application information

The National Open Youth Orchestra invites applications from talented young musicians aged 11–25, disabled or non-disabled, once a year.

You will be able to apply for an audition through our website between 1-31 March 2020, for a start with the orchestra in September 2020. Our 2020 Applicants Information pack will be uploaded by the end of January.

Until then, we recommend that you download and read last year’s application information below to get a sense of what is required. Please note that there are instrument criteria each year, depending on the needs of the orchestra.

You can also email to receive an alert with future application deadlines.



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