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Aug 1

St Mary’s Music School International Strings Summer School 2021

August 1 @ 2:00 pm - August 6 @ 5:00 pm

St Mary's Music School summer schools


Led by our Head of Strings, Valerie Pearson, and supported by members of our String Faculty and players from our partner organisation the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO), this residential course offers participants an intensive, immersive and exciting week of musical experiences in the fields of solo, chamber and large ensemble playing, including the opportunity to perform alongside professional orchestral players.

Participants will be able to develop individual playing in daily lessons with a member of the St Mary’s Music School string faculty, coaching with piano staff and a concert opportunity. We are delighted to work with our partners SCO to offer specialist coaching (daily) in string quartet and string orchestra playing, as well as the opportunity to perform with them in a final concert, which parents and guardians are invited to attend.

The course takes place at our home in the heart of Scotland’s beautiful capital city, Edinburgh.

Who is the International Strings Summer School for?

This residential course is for violin, viola, and cello students aged 11 to 15, grade 7 standard and above (ABRSM or Trinity or equivalent, which may be evidenced by a teacher) who would like to improve their technique and playing ability, gain experience in string quartet and ensemble playing and build confidence through playing and performing with others in a fun and inspiring environment.

Numbers are limited to just 16 participants (four string quartets) to ensure that participants receive dedicated and focused attention and support, and benefit from a comprehensive range of group and individual classes.

The Programme

The Course is residential and includes:

  • Individual lessons of 45 min with a member of St Mary’s Music School String Faculty – 4 x 45 min
  • String quartet coaching with SCO players 4 x 60 min
  • String orchestra – directed and tutored by SCO players 4 x 60 min
  • Individual and group coaching with piano staff
  • Performance classes with John Cameron, Assistant Director of Music and Head of Keyboard
  • Lesson observation
  • Concert opportunity for solo performance
  • Final concert for string quartet performances and string orchestra performance (performing alongside SCO players)


  • Daily yoga for musicians – relaxation and mindfulness to improve performance
  • Alexander Technique – how to reduce stress and avoid injury
  • Dalcroze sessions
  • Walking tour of Edinburgh
  • Final concert open to parents and friends
  • Evening concerts given by SCO players
  • Sports and outdoor activities
  • Talent show and quiz night
  • Dedicated practice rooms
  • Practice time
  • Use of the School’s library
  • Food and accommodation in single or twin ensuite rooms
  • Online resources
  • Certificate of attendance


  • Advisory Audition

Information for parents

Edinburgh is Unesco World-Heritage site and one of the world’s most beautiful cities. As well as stunning architecture to admire, there are excellent shops, restaurants and visitor attractions.

The city also makes an excellent base to explore other areas of Scotland including the Highlands and Islands, so while your child focuses on developing their instrumental techniques you can happily spend a few days sightseeing. We hope you will join us for a concert on the last day of the course.

Cost and how to apply

Cost: £795 inclusive

Financial Support

We have compiled a list of trusts and funding bodies who may be able to help if you require financial support. You can access this here: SMMS_Funding_Directory.pdf.

How to apply: Applicants will be asked to submit a video recording. For more details and to apply: APPLY HERE.

If you have any questions please contact: Mary Walls, mwalls@st-marys-music-school.co.uk.


Whilst we fully intend to deliver this course in person at our premises in Edinburgh, if the UK government or the government of any student’s home country imposes travel restrictions, we will provide a fully digital online course as an alternative.


Course Director – Valerie Pearson

Originally from Leicestershire, Valerie read music at King’s College London, studying violin with Diana Cummings at the Royal Academy of music. Diana’s teaching gave her a deep understanding of the physiology of playing, which completely transformed her relationship with the violin and has been a huge influence on her teaching. With a wealth of experience as a teacher, Valerie’s skills range from starting off three-year-old Suzuki violinists to leading university projects, and teaching at international summer music schools. She is widely sought after, having a reputation for helping students eradicate tension, maintain healthy posture and technique, and for inspiring them from beginner to conservatoire. She was appointed as Head of Strings at St Mary’s Music School in August 2020.

Valerie’s interest in the intersections between performance, composition, and improvisation have led her to performances and projects ranging from the West Bank, Palestine, to commissioning new works for performances in the Faroe Islands. It also formed the basis of her doctoral research at the University of York, supported by the AHRC.

Staff list

Individual lessons – St Mary’s Music School String Faculty

  • Violin – Valerie Pearson, Kana Kawashima
  • Viola – Felix Tanner
  • Cello – Ruth Beauchamp

String quartet and String Orchestra coaching – SCO players

  • Gordon Bragg – violin
  • Kana Kawashima – violin
  • Felix Tanner – viola
  • Su-a Lee – Cello

Performance class and coaching

  • John Cameron


August 1 @ 2:00 pm
August 6 @ 5:00 pm
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St Mary’s Music School
Grosvenor Crescent
Edinburgh, EH12 5EL United Kingdom
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44 (0)131 538 7766
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