Instruments and Selection Criteria


The selection criteria and instruments differ slightly for each group, but generally speaking applicants need to be of grade 5 standard for the NSGSO and grade 4 for the NSGCB on your first instrument. You do not need to have necessarily taken the exams but you need to be this ability level; if not you will not keep up and will struggle during the course. There are a few exceptions to this and you can see them below.


You need to be between the ages of 12 – 25 by 31 August 2024. However if you are aged 26-30 and play an instrument in short supply then your application will be considered after the closing date.

The Scout Association and GirlGuiding

You must be a member of either The Scout Association or Girlguiding. We need your leader’s email and phone number when you apply. If you are a student and living in different parts of the country to where you are a member, either join SSAGO, your local group, unit or Network, or alternately still attend your previous group when you are at home during the holidays.


Applications are not based on your previous attendance at the course, but on your musical ability. The closing date for the first round of applications was at on Sunday 10th December 2023. We are very strict about this cut off date and applicants who have previously applied a day late have not necessarily made the final selection. Members are selected by the conductors during December and all members are notified of the outcome as soon after Christmas as we are able. Application is via the written form, not by audition. Please do not assume that because you applied before you will automatically get a place a second year.


A summary of the selection criteria is stated below. Please note that you will not be eligible if you do not meet the criteria for the group for which you have applied.

  • Be a member of The Scout Association or Girlguiding
  • Be aged 12-25 on 31st August 2024
  • Be of grade 5 standard on an orchestral instrument or grade 4 on a concert band instrument

Symphony Orchestra Instruments

The instruments below in red have now closed

  • Violin
  • Viola
  • Cello
  • Double Bass
  • Clarinet (Please note all applicants will need to be able to bring both an A and a B♭ Clarinet.)
  • Bass Clarinet (2nd instrument only)
  • Flute
  • Piccolo (2nd instrument only)
  • Bassoon
  • Oboe
  • Cor Anglais (2nd instrument only)
  • Trumpet (minimum grade 7)
  • Trombone (Must be able to read bass clef)
  • French Horn
  • Tuba
  • Percussion
  • Harp
  • Piano (2nd instrument only)

The normal minimum standard accepted for the orchestra is Grade 5.

Concert Band Instruments

The instruments below in red have now closed

  • Clarinet 
  • Bass Clarinet (2nd Instrument only)
  • Flute
  • Piccolo (2nd instrument only)
  • Bassoon
  • Oboe
  • Cor Anglais (2nd instrument only)
  • Alto Saxophone
  • Tenor Saxophone
  • Baritone Saxophone
  • Trumpet (minimum grade 7)
  • Cornet (minimum grade 7)
  • Trombone (must be able to read bass clef and minimum grade 7)
  • Tuba
  • French Horn
  • Tenor Horn
  • Baritone Horn
  • Euphonium
  • Drum Kit
  • Percussion
  • Bass Guitar (Grade 5 and able to read bass clef)
  • Double Bass

Other than bass guitar the normal minimum standard accepted for the Concert Band is Grade 4.

If you have any questions about your instrument, grade or standard or about making an application to either ensemble contact the team at [email protected]  who will be able to answer your specific question