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Soul Boxes Workshop © Mihaela Bodlovic 050

Our work with Children

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

Virgin Money Schools Concert 2018 | Photo: Ryan Buchanan

Virgin Money Schools Concert

The International Festival and Scottish Chamber Orchestra invite Primary 7 classes to this year’s Virgin Money Schools Concert, our annual open-air classical music concert.

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Exclusively for P7 pupils, this year’s Virgin Money Schools Concert will take place on Monday 26 August at 1.30pm at the Ross Bandstand in Princes Street Gardens, lasting around 45 minutes. The full Scottish Chamber Orchestra will perform the same repertoire from this year’s Virgin Money Fireworks Concert including Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique.

To support learning around this year’s magical programme and we are pleased to welcome back presenter Rachel Leach to guide us through the music, helping to support pupils’ understanding and appreciation of classical music in the live setting. We have all produced a digital Teaching Resource to support learning in the classroom.

New for 2019, we were also delighted to offer any teachers booked for the Schools Concert the opportunity to attend an interactive teacher’s CPD on Friday 14 June with Rachel Leach. Rachel took teachers through simple and engaging musical warm ups and activities based on the music from the concert and provided them with practical resources and ideas to take back to the classroom. All were welcome, irrespective of musical experience or confidence!

Bookings for this year’s Schools Concert are now full. However, if you would like to be put on the waiting list or wish to learn more about the project, email

Download the 2019 classroom resources for Musical Sorcery: Berlioz and Dukas.

Our 2018 VMSC Schools Resource connected to Holst’s The Planets can be found here.

The 2019 Virgin Money Fireworks Concert poster competition winners | Photo: Ryan Buchanan

Virgin Money Fireworks Concert Poster Competition

The winners are in… three young artists’ poster designs chosen to promote this year’s fireworks extravaganza.

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Now in its ninth year, the Edinburgh International Festival, in partnership with Virgin Money, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Forth 1, ran our annual poster competition for primary school children from Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife. Looking for the best and the brightest creations that brought to life the International Festival’s spectacular Virgin Money Fireworks Concert, we received hundreds of entries which were then judged by Forth 1 DJs Boogie and Arlene, alongside Producer Marty, on their bold use of materials, their bright colours and eye-catching designs.

And the winners are... Ava aged 9, Deigan aged 11 and Olivia aged 11! 

The three young artists will see their poster designs displayed across Edinburgh in the months leading up to the concert, as well as winning a very special tour of the fireworks set-up at Edinburgh Castle.

The entries were praised by the Forth 1 judges for their creativity, innovation and spirit; themes that make up the atmosphere of the annual Fireworks Concert, that acts as the grand finale of the Edinburgh International Festival on Monday 26 August 2019, closing the city’s summer festival season with a bang.

My Festival: My Story

Storytelling project for Primary 6s

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This year, theatre company 1927 bring their brand-new production Roots to the International Festival which will explore a collection of folk tales from around the globe, all told imaginatively through their combination of movement, music and animation. In May and June this year we presented My Festival: My Story, a project for Primary 6 pupils inspired by Roots exploring what it takes to create stories and folktales and bring these stories visually to life.

Part one of the project saw artists visit schools to present a story creation workshop, developing brand-new stories with each class and making vocal recordings of these being told by pupils. The stories were then swapped with the stories from another participating Edinburgh Primary.

Our artists returned to each school for part two of the project, this time exploring how pupils might visually bring to life the tales they had received from another set of Primary 6 pupils through animation. The results have been documented and will be shared with each school to see how their stories were brought to life.

During the International Festival, the results of the workshops will also be displayed and presented at the Church Hill Theatre where 1927 will perform Roots from 9 to 15 August.

Well done to all of our participating schools – Clovenstone Primary School, Corstorphine Primary School, Echline Primary School, Flora Stevenson Primary School, James Gillespie’s Primary School, St. Mary’s (Leith) RC Primary School, and Trinity Primary School.

A big thank you to our facilitating artists for all their hard work and dedication in providing the workshops – Gavin Blackhurst, Liam Blain, Ruxy Cantir and Eoin McKenzie.

Heart of Hollywood

Bringing the glamour of the movies to the schools of Edinburgh.

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In celebration of this year’s Aberdeen Standard Investments Opening Event: LA Phil at Tynecastle, the International Festival worked with local schools around Tynecastle Park to present a workshop that informed pupils about this year’s Opening Event through exploring orchestras, the work of the LA Phil, film scores and their importance to cinema, and a celebration of Hollywood.

Artists Kate Bond and Conrad Molleson had each class create their very own mini kazoo orchestra recreating famous scores including John Williams’ dramatic Imperial March from Star Wars, before getting each pupil to design their own unique symbol to become part of their individual star on a Hollywood-style Walk of Fame which will be displayed at Tynecastle Park during the Opening Event.

Participating schools were Balgreen Primary School, Corstorphine Primary School, Craiglockhart Primary School, St. Cuthbert’s RC Primary School, and Tollcross Primary School.

Look out for their stars at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Opening Event: LA Phil at Tynecastle.

Art of Listening

The International Festival’s flagship classical music project.

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The Art of Listening is a music-based project for Primary 7 pupils introducing them to the International Festival through song and live performance. The two-hour workshop takes place in The Hub, with transport provided to all schools attending. 

Our team of artists present an engaging workshop that encourages pupils to increase their understanding of music and the role they play as listeners. Attendees are presented with an exploration of what we can hear when we listen to music, and how through a deeper understanding of this, we can engage our imaginations and develop stronger listening skills. Through live performance, practical exercises and an awareness of the skills of voice and instrument, pupils are presented the opportunity to creatively provide their response to music stimuli. 

This year has seen over 50 workshops take place, engaging over 1500 pupils. Applications for next year’s Art of Listening workshops will open again in Autumn 2019.

Photo: Geraldine Heaney
Previous Projects with Children

Soul Boxes

Soul Boxes was a visual arts project that worked with pupils in their final year of Primary school, as they move towards Secondary education, exploring how art can be used to understand who we are, and the experiences that shape our lives. Over two workshops, pupils created their own box of collage memories which they can keep adding to as they move through their own education pathway.

Five Telegrams Schools Project

In celebration of the 2018 Aberdeen Standard Investments Opening Event: Five Telegrams and in partnership with 14-18 NOW, this project for Primary 6 pupils explored the themes of the work created by Anna Meredith and 59 Productions including visual musical scores, code-breaking and the history of telegrams. The workshop culminated in each pupil creating their own telegram which was then passed onto another participating pupil in Edinburgh. Five telegrams were also selected to be turned into postcards which were distributed during the International Festival.

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