Info for Parents


THE SA NATIONAL YOUTH ORCHESTRA COURSES began over half a century ago

With a history of over 50 years of orchestral development, the National Youth Orchestra supports the training and development of South Africa’s young musicians through National Courses and National and International Tours within its annual programme. Over 70% of South African musicians currently performing with professional orchestras in the country have participated in the NYO courses. The orchestra is lauded for promoting successful careers for internationally recognised musicians, and has performed on international platforms as well as across South Africa with guests such as Sir Roger Norrington, Sir James Galway, Barbara Hendricks, Judith Sephuma and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Is the course right for your young musician?

With so many things to consider, here is some info to help you make up your mind

  • Cost – The course fee is always highly subsidised by our generous donors and sponsors. It costs us between R7000-10000 per participant per course, but for accommodation, catering, tuition and many other benefits, the course costs R2250 per person. There are also (limited) scholarships, bursaries and payment plans that one can apply for during the application process. Bursaries can also include travel in the form of bus tickets.
  • Location – We will generally do one course in Johannesburg in either the July or December holidays, and one course elsewhere. In 2017 it will be in Port Elizabeth in July, and Johannesburg in December.
  • Age range – There is no “youngest” limit, although entry is determined by the first audition, so generally 13 year olds through to 25 year olds. We have had the occasional 11 year old, too. Anything goes with music – and younger kids are looked after so nicely by the older kids.
  • Staff – We have some of the best teachers in the world that come to teach at the orchestra course. Administration staff are experienced and are lead by Sophia Welz who is the Managing Director and has been with the National Youth Orchestra since 2007.
  • Activities – We have an intensive training programme that is hard work and lots of fun, all at the same time. It has been tested over many years and there are many benefits for your musical offspring. We start with sectional rehearsals and individual attention for each young artist, and then build up to full orchestra rehearsals and performances at the end of the course. In between we have ensemble evenings and many other activities to keep everyone busy and happy.
  • Facility – we generally stay in school hostels with about 4 to a room, sometimes 6. Sometimes we get lucky and we’re 2 to a room. Catering is adjusted where necessary to accommodate dietary requirements. We have house parents.

What are the benefits?

It’s not only about being a better musician, but about being a better person

Team work – learning to play together as a unit, and that an orchestra is only as strong as its weakest player, makes everyone strong because they have support.

Culture shock – it’s good to meet new cultures and travel to different places – you learn and grow (and even come to appreciate some differences!)

Discipline – We learn that by being 5 minutes late for a rehearsal, you have robbed the whole orchestra of that 5 minutes, and so probably cost 400 minutes of time.

Across all ages – in an orchestra it is solely about the music. Whatever age you are, you work together – with teachers and younger students.

Music – a huge selection of sometimes very difficult music is tackled. One the first day you look at your music and think it is impossible to play – and by the last day you can’t understand what was so difficult!

Learning from the best – A wide selection of the best musicians in the world come to teach at Nationals – from the big names, to the teachers who are remembered for generations, it is a meeting place for some of the top movers and shakers in orchestral music. The faculty is made up of recognised and respected international and local professional musicians.

Professional careers – if you wake up every morning and know you have to do music, we will help to prepare you for the reality that is out there – from the good to the bad and the beautiful in between. If you’re aiming at another career, but you love music, the lessons learned in the orchestra will set you up for better things – from learning to work with people to being able to confidently present yourself, orchestra lessons are life lessons. We always say: be prepared, be punctual and be polite.

Lifelong friendships – many of our alumni tell us about their friendships made at orchestra courses. It sets you up with a musical network that spans the globe, and friends that last for life.

Professional and tertiary study opportunities – wherever possible we give recommendations for alumni to do professional work, and we also try to plug our orchestra members into study opportunities, at home and abroad. We’ve had a great deal of success with job placements and we are so proud of our young artists that represent South Africa in the best orchestras.

National colours – in 2013 the SA National Youth Orchestra was awarded national colours and our very best young musicians walk away with the honour of representing their country in  green and gold.

For more info please email team[at] or call Sophia on 0832722117

Applying is as easy as one, two, three! To complete the online form, click here