NCO is open to all young musicians with ability and potential, whatever their background or circumstances, and we want any young musician to have the opportunity to accept their offer of a place in NCO. 

To take part in NCO there are Membership fees as outlined below. We are pleased to offer financial support to help ensure everyone who is offered a place has the opportunity to take part.

Membership fees for the 2024 NCO Projects programme are: £350

Membership fees for the 2024 NCO National programme are:

  • Under 12 and Under 13 Orchestras £1850
  • Main Orchestra £2050

The true cost to NCO of providing a place in an NCO orchestra is much higher but NCO subsidises activities to keep fees as low as possible and works hard each year to raise the funds which cover the balance.


It is possible to have all or part of your child’s fees paid for you through our Financial Support programme.

Where financial support is offered towards the Projects membership fee, this would be for the full amount. Where support is offered towards National membership fees, this can be the full amount or a partial contribution to the membership fee.

NCO will cover full amount of the membership fees for your child if you can evidence that either:

  • you are in receipt of Universal Credit OR
  • your child is eligible for Free School Meals from Key Stage 2 onwards OR
  • you are already receiving support from our partner organisations Awards for Young Musicians (Furthering Talent programme) or Future Talent

In all other cases, NCO’s support is means-tested, so once your child has been offered a place, we will ask you to make an application for support, including supplying a range of information and supporting documents.

Thank you in advance for your time in providing this detail and for your transparency – it really does help us to best consider your request. We will ask you for some information about:

  • Your finances, including your gross annual household income, pension, savings and property ownership and any benefits or grants you receive
  • Where your child goes to school, including whether they are receiving any bursaries or scholarships or are eligible for Free School Meals/Pupil Premium
  • Your other dependents
  • Whether you have applied for grants from other sources e.g. charities or your local authority (we recommend this)
  • Any other circumstances which will affect your capacity to pay your child’s membership fees

As a charity, NCO raises funds so we can provide financial support to young musicians each year. It is crucial that we offer support to children who need it the most; those who could not otherwise access our programmes.

In a normal year, our Financial Support programme has the capacity to support between 20-25% of our members. There is no guarantee we will be able to offer support for every application we receive, particularly if your household income is above £68,000. We recommend that you apply to other funding sources alongside your NCO Financial Support application as we are expecting significant demand.

If you have any questions about the Financial Support programme that you would like to ask before your child auditions for NCO, please email [email protected] and we will be happy to help.


NCO National Member, Spring 2022

Other organisations offering financial support

There are some suggestions below of other funding sources you might like to consider alongside your NCO Financial Support application. Please visit the websites of each organisation for the most up to date information.

Christine Brown Trust
The Christine Brown Trust for Young Musicians offers financial support to exceptionally talented young musicians under 19 years of age who are in financial hardship and unable to meet the expenses involved in learning a musical instrument. This may mean contributing towards the cost of lessons, helping to pay for a new instrument, perhaps paying for summer school or orchestra fees - in fact, anything connected with the costs of an instrumental education.

The Wrightson Trust
The Wrightson Trust aims to benefit those of secondary school age (Year 6) to 18 years. Reviews are conducted twice a year, with deadlines on 1st February and 1st September. Disbursements include e.g. payment for lessons, choir/orchestra tour fees, music college fees.

Sydney Dean Whitehead Charitable Trust
This trust provides grants towards school fees and other educational costs for children under the age of 18 who have special skills in music and dance. Next deadline Sun 1st May 2022.

There may be opportunities for funding, local to you, via the Funding Wizard on the Help Musicians’ website.

Instrument Loan and Hire

We appreciate that instruments can be expensive to purchase and so there is some brief information below on hiring or loaning an instrument.

Benslow Music offer an instrument hire scheme, and also offer the hire of bows separately. The instruments they currently have available are violin, viola, cello, double bass, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and harp.  You can find out more about Benslow Music here: Benslow Music Instrument Loan Scheme - Benslow Music Instrument Loan Scheme (

Universal Music UK Sound Foundation has helped over 10,000 students, schools and teachers improve their access to music through the purchase or upgrade of musical instruments and/or equipment.  They are able to offer support up to £1,500 towards the cost of a musical instrument via an application process. You can find out more information on their website.

You may also find that your local music service is able to loan an instrument to you, and there are several other instrument hire services available, found by searching for ‘music instrument hire’ in your search engine.