Frequently Asked Questions2023-09-19T20:51:53+01:00


Please see below the most frequently asked questions we are asked related to the course.
If you can’t find the answer you are looking for, feel free to contact us or email us on [email protected].

Are there any grants that I can access?2022-09-22T19:58:48+01:00

Within the Scout Association and Girlguiding there may be a number of grants you are able to access; the first point of contact would always be to speak to your leader as they may be aware of specific grants in your area.

Ask your leader or GSL (for Scouts) if your unit can help you financially in any way, but also ask your District, Division and County Commissioner as well. Guides can also ask through your local Trefoil Guild and students in SSAGO via the university. They may be willing to give you some money particularly if you offer to go back and talk about the course afterwards. Your leader should know the contact details for these commissioners and you can ask for funding from all routes at the same time, but do tell them all that you have done this!

On the national websites there are some grants available but they are quite specific e.g for those with disabilities, travelling abroad, for units in deprived areas.

We would always encourage you to contact us directly at [email protected] with any specific queries or to discuss your financial situations if you need some help. In certain circumstances we do have some internal grants available for situations of financial need.Everything is in the strictest confidence; we will have probably have heard them before and might be able to point you in specific directions. 

Are there any hidden costs?2020-08-15T13:33:43+01:00

No; the only other costs are optional, although concert tickets are not included in the fee and you may well want family and friends to come to see you at a concert. You can order an optional hoodie or t-shirt and there is a small tuck shop with some merchandise you can purchase if you wish. You are provided with a polo top and necker in the cost if this is your first year.

Can I apply to both ensembles?2020-08-30T11:59:42+01:00

Yes you can. You will be asked if you want to apply for either one or both ensembles when you complete the application form. Some instruments are only accepted in one ensemble, so in that case you only apply for that one, but otherwise you can apply to both or just one. If you apply to both you will be asked if you have a preference or not. Some instruments (in particular flutes and clarinets), do have  a lot of applications so you may wish to apply to both to widen your opportunity to gain a place.

Can I apply with the piano as my first instrument?2022-09-22T19:56:07+01:00

No as the piano (or keyboard) is not an orchestral or concert band instrument. However very occasionally just one piece chosen by the conductor in the repertoire
may require a keyboard player, in which case we ask a member to play for that one piece. Therefore, it is a second instrument choice only.

Additionally, we find it useful to know if you play the piano so that we can see your full musical experience.

Do I get 100% of my money returned if the course is cancelled due to reasons outside our control e.g. Covid.2023-08-29T21:04:54+01:00

In the unlikely event that the Organising Team have to cancel, or reschedule NSGSO or NSGCB 2024, we will inform members and parents/carers of the cancellation by email. If NSGSO or NSGCB 2024 has to be cancelled due to circumstances beyond the control of the organisers, money will be refunded to individuals on a pro rata basis to the extent that money has not already been spent or committed to be spent. This may mean that no fees or only a proportion of fees paid can be refunded.

You may wish to therefore look into taking out any personal insurance cover.

Do I get provided with any clothing?2020-08-22T12:35:13+01:00

You are provided with either an NSGSO (blue and white) necker or NSGCB (grape and white) necker and also a polo top if this is your first course. You will be asked your size after you have been accepted onto the course.


There is also the option to purchase an NSGSO or NSGCB hoodie, zoodie or t-shirt prior to the course. These are all totally optional.

Do I need to audition?2020-08-15T13:16:02+01:00

There are no auditions for either NSGSO or NSGCB. We base selection on the comprehensive application form which must be completed by all applicants.

Do I need to have taken the appropriate grade level in an exam?2020-08-15T13:16:40+01:00

You do not need to have necessarily taken the exams but you need to be the ability level you indicate in your application form; if not you may not keep up and will struggle during the course. As a reminder you need to be a minimum of grade 5 standard on an orchestral instrument or grade 4 on a concert band instrument.

How is payment made?2023-09-17T10:17:00+01:00

The cost for the 2024 course is £580, inclusive of all food and accommodation, tuition, music, social activities and transport during the course, plus support and enquiries prior to the course.

Payment is made via bank transfer. We ask for a deposit to be paid by the end of January, and then three further instalments, with the final balance due by the end of June. We are always willing to discuss various options around payments, and encourage anyone with any queries or concerns to contact us direct, rather than worrying about them.

How is the accommodation arranged?2023-09-09T18:28:33+01:00

Accommodation is grouped by age and gender. Over and under 18’s are always in different accommodation blocks. In each there are single rooms and small dormitory rooms. There are between 1 and 3 staff who stay in each block overnight.

If you have any specific accommodation concerns or requirements, please get in touch.

I am outside the age ranges; can I still apply?2023-08-29T21:05:26+01:00
You need to be aged 12 by 31 August 2024 for us to accept your application. We do not accept members any younger.
If you are between the ages of 25-30 by 31 August 2024 then your application will be considered after the closing date in the event that a section is undersubscribed. However please apply now so that we have received your application and we can consider it as soon after that date as we are able. In this instance you may not hear from us until January 2024 (rather than 31 December for all 12–25 year old applicants).
I don’t have formal uniform?2020-09-12T11:36:54+01:00

All members must play in formal uniform for the concerts. Please see the details below.

Everyone:  Smart black shoes

Scouts: Uniform shirt for your section navy trousers or skirt (not black)


  • Leaders Over 18 – Pale blue uniform blouse with pink inner collar with navy trousers or skirt (not black)
  • Young Leaders – Pale blue uniform blouse with grey inner collar with navy trousers or skirt (not black)
  • Rangers – Pale blue uniform blouse with aqua inner collar with navy trousers or skirt (not black)
  • Guides: Royal blue/red uniform polo shirt with navy trousers or skirt (not black)

You are provided with either an NSGSO (blue and white) necker or NSGCB (grape and white) necker and also a polo top if this is your first course. You will be asked your size after you have been accepted onto the course.

If you do not have your own uniform, please ask around your local group/district/area as there may be one you are able to borrow. If you are still unable to access one, please get in touch and we will see if we can offer any advice. Members will not be allowed on stage if they do not have formal uniform. There is always a uniform check on the Monday of the course to establish that everyone has the correct uniform.

NSGCB members usually play in polo tops and neckers when we have a concert out in the community.

I have some dietary needs- what provision is there?2020-08-15T13:56:53+01:00

The course is fully catered and provided by a fantastic team. We ask participants to advise us in advance if they have any specific dietary needs and we liaise with the catering team to ensure that there are always options available. They are totally accommodating but we do need to be aware of your needs a month or so in advance

There is also always a member of staff in the canteen during meals who would be able to assist with any specific requirements. If any issues or queries occur during the week we are able to liaise with the catering team to get these resolved.

I have some special needs; what arrangements are there to help with provisions?2020-09-14T23:39:36+01:00

We have a dedicated member of staff on the team who is able to discuss this with you. We will do our best to accommodate any additional requirements, but please contact us at [email protected] to discuss this further.

I need to travel on the train/plane/bus- can anyone pick me up?2020-09-12T11:06:58+01:00

You will need to make your own travel arrangements; however for participants arriving by public transport we will provide local pick-ups from Birmingham Airport or Stourbridge Junction Station.


You will be asked to confirm travel arrangements prior to the course so we can arrange any local pick-ups as required.

If I am local, do I need to stay overnight?2020-09-14T23:37:25+01:00

If you live in the local area, or wish to sort out your own accommodation for any reason, that is perfectly fine, and we will be able to work out a specific reduced cost for you. You will however need to ensure that you are at every rehearsal – these start at 9am each day, and the final rehearsal finishes at 9pm. Please email [email protected] if you’d like to discuss this further.

What are the implications of Covid-19 as to whether the 2022 course will occur?2021-08-28T10:59:51+01:00

We were incredibly disappointed to have to cancel both our 2020 and 2021 courses.. We are now hoping to deliver the course as planned for 2022, with our first priority being to keep all of our participants, tutors and staff members safe. Please do still send your applications in, and feel free to contact us on [email protected] with any concerns. We will be updating our guidelines as any further information is given to us by The Scout Association, Girlguiding and the government.

What if I find the music too difficult?2020-08-30T12:09:46+01:00

We ask all applicants to state their ability level on their application form so we can ensure that you are of the necessary standard to participate. However we also want to stretch participants so there may well be occasions, especially over the first couple of days where the music will appear challenging. We encourage all members to remember that they have almost a full week of intensive rehearsal to perfect the music, so what might appear challenging at the beginning of the week will soon become easier.

We also have support mechanisms in place to assist you with. Our team of dedicated tutors are all professional instrumental teachers and musicians, helping you to get the most out of your instrument on the course, and are always more than happy to help with any specific issues. Alongside this we have a large, friendly team of Scout and Guide Leaders who run the day to day activities of the course and provide pastoral care. Several of these team members are themselves previous participants of the course so are uniquely placed to offer support and guidance as well as being available for members if they have any concerns.

Alongside our staff team we have a peer mentoring scheme in which experienced members of the orchestra and concert band are selected to act as mentors for new participants. This provides an additional support network to help ensure that new participants are able to maximise the opportunities and experiences the course offers. The mentors will also liaise with the staff team if necessary to ensure the well being of all course participants.

The most important thing is that we would encourage any participant whether this be their first year or their 10th to come and speak to us about any particular concerns so we can address them.

What if I have any personal circumstances that I wish to discuss?2020-09-14T23:40:25+01:00

If you wish to discuss anything prior to making your application, please email [email protected].


If you are accepted into either the NSGSO or NSGCB, you will receive multiple emails from us prior to the course, including an introduction to the various members of the staff team. Please feel free to contact any of these with any queries you may have. If they are not able to answer direct, they will ensure your query is passed to the relevant person.

What if my application is late?2020-09-12T11:59:36+01:00

We are very strict about the cut-off date and time. Applicants who have previously applied a day late have not necessarily made the final selection.

However any instruments that we still have spaces available for will stay open until we have sufficient instruments. Applications received after the closing date will be considered in date order.

When do I need to have applied by?2023-09-17T10:17:46+01:00

We must have received your application by 9am on Sunday 10th December 2024

When will I hear if I have been accepted?2021-08-03T19:44:27+01:00

You will receive information by 31 December if you have been successful or not.

Will I be able to have a bedroom on my own?2022-09-22T19:55:19+01:00

We try and meet any individual requests in regards to accommodation. There are instances where members are required to share rooms, however we try and match you with someone of a similar age, and where possible in the same ensemble. Many of our returning members now request to share rooms if possible. However there are also many single rooms.

Prior to the course an email will be sent to all participants asking you to inform us if you have any specific requirements regarding accommodation.

Will my family and friends be able to come to the concerts?2022-09-24T07:56:51+01:00

Family and friends are more than welcome, in fact, encouraged to attend our concerts so they can see what you have been working on during the week. Concerts are usually held in venues in Birmingham.

Details of the concerts, and how to purchase tickets, are always sent out prior to the course in the spring, and the information will be shared on our Social Media and this website.

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