Applications for the 2021 Sound and Music Summer School are now open, and will close on Tuesday 6th April at noon.
The below FAQs offer some details about the Summer School, including how it works, common application questions, information on financial support and access requirements. If the question you have isn’t listed below, feel free to email us with your query!
If you’ve already got the information you need and want to apply, please see our How to Apply page.
What is it?
The Sound and Music Summer School, running now for over a decade, 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 to 18 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 recording 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. For those travelling by public transport, we provide a chaperoned minibus or taxi ride between Watford Junction station and the school on arrival and departure days.
When is it?
The Summer School 2021 runs 1 – 7 August. You will need to arrive on Sunday 1 August by 2pm and leave on Saturday 7 August at around 4.30pm. There will be performances of everyone’s compositions on the Friday evening and during the day on the Saturday to which the families and friends of the students are invited.
We consider listening to everyone else’s pieces to be an important part of the course and you will be expected to stay until the end of 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, from music from other cultures to jazz and 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 will need to have done some composing before, but we don’t expect you to be very experienced or super-confident!
How much does it cost?
We ask those who can afford it for £500 to attend the Sound and Music Summer School, which covers all tutoring, accommodation, food and activities.
I’m not sure if I can afford that; can I get financial support?
Here at Sound and Music, we are determined that everyone who is accepted on the course should be able to attend regardless of their family’s financial circumstances and have funding available should you need help with the cost.
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.
Also this year, Faber Music are generously offering ten bursaries to cover the full costs for young people who face barriers to taking part due to their family’s financial circumstances.
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!
We are committed to being inclusive of young deaf and disabled people, and anyone with access requirements. You are welcome to get in touch at any stage of the application process to have a chat about how we can best support you to make the most of the week.
We hope that this year’s course will be residential, but our Plan B is to hold the week online, if COVID-19 is still restricting our lives in August. If this happens, we will be building on the success of last year’s course; don’t let the uncertainty stop you applying now!
Help with equipment
We know that a lack of equipment can be a barrier to taking part in online activities for some people. If we have to run the course online, we will support anyone who doesn’t have equipment and resources to get access to it for the week so that they can still take part.
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 6) – 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 do I apply?
Submitting scores and recordings
We would prefer to see a written score as part of your application, but this isn’t essential, for example, if you’re creating electronic music. Remember that a score could be presented in lots of different formats – you can check out some example scores here.
Submitting more than one piece of music doesn’t gain any advantage, although the selection panel may find a second piece of interest if it is very different to the first in some way. If you haven’t sent a score, it is essential that you upload a recording of a piece of your music.
All submitted scores should be in PDF format, and recordings should ideally be in MP3.
If you can’t upload your files to the online application form for some reason, then it’s fine to e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org
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 we need any further information from you.
Any additional scores etc that arrive by e-mail will be acknowledged by e-mail, to the email address it was received from. 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.
Food and dietary 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.
Our education team 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.
Unfortunately, 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 any applications to universities and conservatoires.
This year, financial support from Faber Music has enabled the creation of ten Faber Music Bursaries, each of which will cover the full costs of a place for a young person who faces a barrier to taking part because of their family’s financial circumstances.