Created with Sketch. Artboard Created with Sketch. Created with Sketch.
Soul Boxes Workshop © Mihaela Bodlovic 050

Our work with Children

As part of our Learning and Engagement activity, we present a number of projects that engage children who are in school years up to Primary 7 with music, visual art, theatre and literacy.

Virgin Money Schools Concert 2018 | Photo: Ryan Buchanan

Virgin Money School Concert

This annual event, presented in partnership with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, brought over 1800 Edinburgh school kids to Princes Street Gardens for an exclusive performance for Primary 7 pupils on the day of the Virgin Money Fireworks Concert. Often a first exposure to live classical music, this year our presenter Rachel Leach guided the audience through the work of Gustav Holst and The Planets, including some very impressive body percussion from the attendees!

The event began with a fantastic welcome performed by the Children’s Pipeband of East Ayrshire Council, before the full orchestra of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra took the audience on a mind-expanding journey into deepest space through the stirring orchestral music, playing the suites for Mars, Saturn, Uranus and Jupiter. There was also a surprise message from special guest Tim Peake who appeared on screen from the European Space Agency. 

This year’s Concert was also accompanied by a comprehensive teaching resource to support further learning in the classroom, exploring both the wider music and history of Holst, alongside some of the science of the fascinating planets the children heard the music of.

Photo: Aly Wight
Virgin Money Fireworks Concert – Schools Poster Competition 2018

The International Festival is delighted to once again have hosted our annual poster competition for primary school children from Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife. Each year we look for the best and the brightest creations, bringing to life the International Festival’s spectacular Virgin Money Fireworks Concert, with partners Virgin Money, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Forth 1.

This year’s winners were Harriette Williamson, aged 10 from Knightsridge Primary School, Charlotte Pratt, aged 11 from Bruntsfield Primary School, and Jordan Porphyre, aged 7 from Roseburn Primary School, who, as well as seeing their posters throughout the city, will also enjoy an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the Fireworks set-up site at Edinburgh Castle and a family ticket to the spectacular concert in Princes Street Gardens.

The entries from Harriette, Charlotte, and Jordan were praised by the judges for their creativity, innovation and spirit, themes that make up the atmosphere of the annual Fireworks Concert, which acts as the grand finale of the Edinburgh International Festival on Monday 27 August 2018, closing the city’s summer festival season with a bang.

Five Telegrams | Photo: Geraldine Heaney

Five Telegrams Schools Workshop

Five Telegrams Schools Workshop is an innovative new project for the 2018 International Festival, inspired by Aberdeen Standard Investments Opening Event: Five Telegrams and in partnership with 14-18 NOW.

Primary 6 classes from across Edinburgh have already taken part in an engaging 2-hour workshop which explored literacy, creativity, and history through creative activities, reflecting on the way we communicate to one another and how the media communicates to us today and how this relates back to the First World War. Each workshop culminated in every pupil producing their own personal telegram.

The next stage of the project will begin after the summer holidays when each participating class, who will now be in Primary 7, will receive a package of telegrams from another school in Edinburgh, to read, explore and discuss, providing them the opportunity to see how their peers designed their telegrams, decoding any secret messages they may find on them.

Five Telegrams from all those created by the 11 schools we worked with have also been selected to be turned into special postcards which will be distributed around the International Festival. Full details on the selected postcards coming soon.

Year-round Workshops

The Art of Listening 
For twenty years, The Art of Listening been teaching young people how to communicate about classical music. The workshops employ a mixture of listening and practical drawing exercises, that challenge preconceived notions about the art form and teach children how to communicate their experience.

In spring 2016 we travelled with the project from Edinburgh to Melbourne, Australia to present it to teachers, students and other music professionals from Independent Schools Victoria. In May 2017 we were invited back to showcase the Art of Listening at the inaugural Arts Learning Festival.

Soul Boxes 
Soul Boxes is a visual arts project that works with pupils in their final year of Primary school, as they move towards Secondary education, and looks at how art can be used to understand who we are, and the experiences that shape our lives.

In a half-day introductory workshop with artists in schools, pupils are encouraged to explore autobiographical material (photographs, images, objects) through art and writing. 

In the second full-day workshop at The Hub, pupils use their material to create an artist book or a story box as a record of their lives and experiences.

If you would like to know more about these workshops, please contact

National Youth Orchestra Of Canada Ryan Buchanan 1

More about our work with communities

International Festival Young Peoples Awards © Mihaela Bodlovic 12

Our work with Young People

Power Gender And The Arts Ryan Buchanan 012

Our work with Talent Development