These are some of the questions we are commonly asked regarding Yorchestra.  If you have other questions which are not answered here, please do contact us and we will do our best to assist.

Quick links: click here to go straight to Q & As on:


Online application forms

Help – I’ve put in an online application but I haven’t received a response email!  Has my application got lost?

If you haven’t received the automatic response email, this could be for various reasons:

  • it may possibly have been caught by your spam filter
  • you may have entered your email address incorrectly: please do take care when entering it!
  • if you are making two or more applications for the same orchestra, some email clients (eg. Gmail) will treat these as part of the same email “thread” / “conversation”, and at first glance it may appear that you have only received one response email.

Remember that the automatic response will come from Google Forms, rather than Yorchestra, since we use Google to power our online forms.

If you want to check whether your application has been received safely, just contact us and we will be happy to confirm the position for you. Please don’t re-submit your application without checking first, since otherwise we may end up with duplicate forms for you, which causes a lot of confusion for us behind the scenes!


I made a mistake on the form – what should I do?

Don’t worry if you find that you need to change some of the information on your application after you have submitted it – for instance, if you need to provide a different emergency contact number, or realise you have entered something incorrectly.

If you’ve received the response email which is sent automatically when you submit the form, you will see that there is a link at the top of the form marked “Edit Response“. Simply click on this link, and it will take you to your completed application. Use the “Next” button to get to the section(s) of the form which you need to edit, and fill in your updated response.

Once you’ve made the changes you need to, click on the “Next” button until you get to the final section of the form, and click “Submit” to confirm the changes. You will then get a fresh automated response email, by way of confirmation that we have received your changes.

If you haven’t received the response email, please contact us giving details of the changes which need to be made, and we will update the information we hold.


I’m getting an error message on the form – why is this?

The online forms are set up to check for some basic mistakes and typos which are commonly encountered – eg.

  • incorrect format of postcode
  • telephone number with extra (or missing) digits
  • incorrect format of email address

All of these will bring up an error message asking you to correct the mistake.

Also, because there are certain age guidelines for the various orchestras, if you enter an age which is outside the age range for the selected orchestra, you will get an error message which asks you to contact us to discuss whether you are applying for the appropriate ensemble. (If you encounter this, it is worth just double-checking that you are using the correct application form – mistakes have been known!)

Finally, some of the fields on the form (eg. previous experience) have an overall character limit, and again, you will get an error message asking you to shorten your response if you try to enter more text.

If the error message you are getting is different from those described, please contact us with details and we will look into the problem for you.


Why can’t I pay by card for Yorchestra fees, given that I can apply online?

In order to prevent fraud, we would need to use a third-party payment provider who complies with the Payment Card Industry Security Standards to process any card payments. Third-party payment providers will charge fees for this service, which realistically would need to be passed on to applicants. We would also need to considerably revise our online application process, which at present is limited to gathering the information we need to allocate places and run the course.

Given that payment by bank transfer offers a quick and easy online payment mechanism (with no additional costs for applicants or Yorchestra), we do not consider that it would be a good use of our resources to make the necessary changes to allow card payments at this time.

Why can’t I wait to pay until after you have confirmed that my child has a place on the course?

The reason for this requirement is that places in some sections are limited. If we allocate those places purely on the basis of whoever gets their application in first, we run the risk that some parents may apply for places “just in case”, without being serious about attending, and may subsequently turn down the place when it is offered to them. This causes obvious difficulties for us as an organisation in planning the course, as well as being unfair to later applicants. We will always pay a full and prompt refund if we are unable to offer your child a place.

Family Fund

I don’t live in or near York.  Can I still apply for Yorchestra’s family fund?

Absolutely!  Although currently part of our bursary fund is restricted to families living within the city of York, the majority of it has no such restrictions.  Our approach is always to assess all bursary applications on their merits, looking at the financial circumstances of the applicant.  If the applicant also meets the residency requirements that will simply enable us to use monies from the restricted fund for that particular application.

Why don’t you have clearer criteria for awarding the family fund? I’m finding it difficult to know whether I will be accepted if I apply.

We do not want to set out rigid criteria, since that may prevent us from responding to individual cases, as well as potentially creating arbitrary dividing lines between “valid” and “invalid” applications.  We are happy to provide further guidance on your individual circumstances before you apply if that would be helpful; however, the bursary application process should not be difficult or time-consuming, so we would encourage applicants for whom affordability is a concern to consider making an application.

Confirmation and allocation of places

I’ve put in an application but I haven’t heard whether or not my child has a place. Should I be worried?

If we are not able to offer your child a place, we will contact you as soon as possible after receiving your application.  So unless you believe that your application form may not have been successfully submitted (see here for a Q & A on this), there is no need to be concerned that you have not heard from us before the closing date for applications.

Confirmation of places is sent out by email a few days after the closing date.  If you have not heard from us a week after the closing date, please check that our email has not been caught by your spam filter (adding “yorchestracourses@gmail.com” to your list of trusted senders may help prevent this).  If you still can’t find a confirmation email, please contact us.


How many spaces do you have, and how do you allocate places?

We do our very best to accommodate all applicants, but we do also need to take into account the overall balance between different instrument types in order for players to have the best possible experience on the course.  Realistically, an orchestra can accommodate rather larger numbers of strings than brass / woodwind (especially on the louder instruments!).  Because of this, we are sometimes forced to cap numbers of applications in some sections.  This is particularly an issue in Maestro, where the aim is to give players as authentic an experience of orchestral playing as possible. A symphony orchestra rarely has more than 3 or 4 players in any brass or woodwind section.

We may ask woodwind or brass players who have a second instrument to bring and play that instrument as an alternative to capping numbers – for instance, a clarinettist may be invited to play saxophone or bass clarinet if the clarinet section is full – so it is really helpful if second instrument information is given on the application form.

We also restrict numbers in YoYos to no more than 12 players, in order to allow each player to get plenty of attention and help from the tutor.

In all cases, places are allocated strictly on a first-come, first-served basis.  Please note that this assessment takes account of both when the application form is submitted and when payment is received, since the application for a place is not complete until we have received payment.  If you delay in making payment, you may therefore lose out on a place, even if your application form is submitted early.

On the course

Is music sent out in advance for players to prepare?  Can we borrow music during the course to practise at home?

All music is learned during the course itself, rather than being issued in advance.  Your child is very welcome to take home music to practise overnight, but all music which is borrowed must be signed out first.  To do this, players should visit the Music Librarians’ room at the end of the day and ask for the desk folder which they wish to borrow, and the librarian on duty will issue it to them.

If your child does have a special access requirement, please contact yorchestracourses@gmail.com so that we can organise accommodation for them.

NB: please be sure to remember to bring all music back the next day!  If your child is absent for any reason, you must make sure that any borrowed music is returned for their desk partner to use. 


What does my child need to bring along to Yorchestra?

Apart from your child’s instrument (the number 1 priority!), please bring the following:

  • a named music stand
  • a pencil and a rubber, for making notes on sheet music
  • spare reeds (woodwind players), strings (string players) and any similar accessories (eg. valve oil / slide grease for brass players; cork grease for woodwind players; rosin for string players)
  • spike protector (cellists)
  • where possible, a stool (double-bassists)
  • Maestro – second instrument, if your child is due to be playing it in a workshop
  • packed lunch, including a drink (NB – since we regularly have children attending who have nut allergies, please do not bring food containing nut products in packed lunches)
  • any essential medication (eg. inhaler, for asthma / epipens for allergies), which should be clearly named

Card games, books or similar are also useful for breaks / lunchtime.


What time should my child arrive/leave? Can I drop him/her off early if necessary?

Registration starts from 9.30 am; please aim to arrive no later than 9.50 am so that there is time to register, unpack and tune instruments before rehearsals start at 10 am.

The finish time for the course varies between the different orchestras:

  • 12.30 pm for YoYos
  • 3.45 pm for Mezzo / Primo
  • 4 pm for Maestro

Yorchestra staff are not available on the premises before 9.30 am or after 4.15 pm, so please do not drop off or collect your child outside these times.


If your child tests positive for COVID-19 during/immediately after the course, please contact yorchestracourses@gmail.com immediately so that we can notify anybody necessary. Please do not send your child to Yorchestra if they have tested positive for COVID-19.

What if my child falls ill during the course?

If your child becomes ill whilst at Yorchestra, we will call you if we consider it appropriate, so it is important that you provide a telephone number where you can definitely be contacted during the course.  Your child will be made comfortable at Yorchestra until he/she can be collected.  In the event of any more serious injury or illness, we would arrange for emergency medical treatment to be provided if necessary.


My child has been ill shortly before Yorchestra – can he/she still attend?

It is important that children are not brought to Yorchestra if they are unwell.  In particular, if there is any possibility of an infectious disease (including COVID-19, diarrhoea and vomiting), we ask that the child does not attend Yorchestra until 48 hours after symptoms have ceased.


What happens if my child is unable to attend all or part of the course because of illness? Do we get a refund?

Unfortunately, because most of our overheads relate to fixed costs (venue hire and tutor fees) which have to be met regardless of the number of players who actually attend on any given day, we cannot provide a refund where a player is unable to attend part of the course owing to illness.  If a player misses the whole of the course as a result of illness, we will, where finances permit, issue a credit for a portion of the fees paid, which can be redeemed when booking for a future course.

End-of-course concerts

What should my child wear for the concert?

Unless instructed otherwise, there is no dress code for the concerts for Mezzo, Primo or YoYos, which are usually very informal.

For Maestro, the dress code is smart, all black concert dress.


Why can’t we take photographs or make a recording of our child’s concert?  It was a great experience, and we would love to have some kind of record of the event.

It is important that people do not take photographs or make video or audio recordings of any of our concerts for three main reasons:

  • it can be very distracting for players and conductors, and for other members of the audience
  • some players have asked not to be included in any photography, so it is essential that their wishes are respected
  • audio / video recordings may well represent a breach of copyright: although Yorchestra will have all necessary licences to give a live performance of copyright works included in the programme, those licences will not usually permit recording of any kind

From time to time, Yorchestra will employ an official photographer, who knows which players have given their consent for photography.  Photos are available on Facebook to download if you would like to take a look on the Yorchestra page.

We encourage you instead to sit back and enjoy the concert!


Why doesn’t the concert include all the music that the orchestras cover in the course? My child was disappointed that they didn’t get to play some of the pieces they had rehearsed.

Many of our groups rehearse music that does not go into the final concert.  This is particularly the case in Y2, where the players usually take part in various workshops / smaller groupings, including windband, string orchestra, jazz and chamber groups.  Because of this, if we were to include all the music that is rehearsed during the course the concert would be very long indeed! The exact programme is not finalised until near the end of the course, and takes into account a range of factors, including the readiness of each piece and the length and balance of the programme, as well as the players’ preferences.

Other queries

Have you considered making Yorchestra a residential course?

One of the wonderful and unusual things about Yorchestra is that it is non-residential.  This keeps the cost down and allows players and staff to be refreshed by taking a break overnight.  Non-residential courses are also less daunting for younger or shyer children, who might be put off by the prospect of staying away from home for several days.  Further, given that the administration is undertaken by volunteers, turning Yorchestra into a residential course is too big a task to be undertaken by the organisation as it presently stands.