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Sage Gateshead

 →  Make Music  →  Centre for Advanced Training  →  Student Information

Information for Students

Timetables, auditions, and other useful information for current and prospective CAT students to help make the most of your learning experience.

Absence Reporting

Students are accepted into the Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) on the understanding that they attend regularly. Repeated absence can be detrimental to a student’s musical progress, and is very disruptive to ensemble work.

If there are unavoidable clashes and there is a valid reason for not attending it is essential that students inform Samantha Hutchinson by email as far in advance as possible. If the absence is being reported at short notice (i.e on the day or a few days before the activity) then emails should be sent to

Fees and Financial Support

The majority of our students receive full or partial funding through the Department for Education’s Music and Dance Scheme (MDS); applications for grants are made after a place has been offered following a successful audition. The amount of grant available depends on the household income. Learn more about bursaries and fees.


For the 23/24 school year we will once again be doing auditions via video.  You will be sent all the information you need when you are offered an audition.  

You can watch a video of our in person audition process on our Ask Us Anything page.

For audition you may be asked to demonstrate the below elements.  Please be assured that the audition panel will be assessing your overall potential, and an offer of a place doesn’t necessarily require an established skill level in all of the below areas.

  • Playing or sing two contrasting pieces of your own choice (A pianist is provided for voice auditions, but instrumentalists are welcome to bring their own, or use a backing CD if appropriate)
  • your knowledge of scales and arpeggios (instrumentalists) or ability with simple studies (singers)
  • your level of sight reading on your instrument / voice
  • your level of aural perception through a series of listening tests
  • your ability to improvise (popular and contemporary only)

If successful, you will be asked to complete a short written paper to establish your current level of understanding of music theory.


All our correspondence is via email and so it is essential for the smooth running of the programme that students check emails regularly and deal with it promptly. It is the responsibility of the student to make sure their parents and carers see any correspondence sent/given to them. If students do not have computer access we can use other means of contact.

Student Safety and Welfare

The CAT day runs from 9am to 5pm. Each student has their own timetable and so students will start later and / or finish earlier depending on the scheduling of their sessions; for students living a long way from Gateshead a later start may be possible.

Students are required to sign in on arrival. At all other times students must sign in and out at the Music Education Centre (MEC) Reception; at the end of the day all students aged 11 years old and under must be collected from the MEC by their parents/guardians.

At lunchtime all CAT students of secondary school age may go to Sage Gateshead cafe on the Concourse. Younger students should stay in the MEC. Students should not leave the building until the end of their timetabled day unless we have previously agreed it with parents/guardian.

Sage Gateshead is a public building and all students are responsible for their own belongings, including instruments. If storage is required, students should ask at the MEC reception.

Students should remember to bring a packed lunch, drinks and snacks with them if necessary.

The YMP team have some simple rules that help everyone to work together; it’s called the YMP Code of Conduct. Please take some time to look at this.

Study Leader Team

Our students are supported by a Study Leader Team who are responsible for monitoring progress and providing advice and guidance on any aspect of the student’s studies at the CAT.

  • Keyboard and Strings: James Craig
  • Music Language and Composition: Alix Shepherd
  • Percussion: Roger Hempsall
  • Popular & Contemporary: James Birkett
  • Vocal: Mary Hitch
  • Wind and Brass: Marion Craig

The Study Leader team work across the whole of the Make Music: Young People programmes, and are able to help students link up with other areas of our programme such as ensembles.

Individual Training Plans

All students must complete an Individual Training Plan in which they set achievable targets for the year. Tutors use this plan as a guide throughout the year, and refer to it when completing reports at the end of the year.


There are many performance opportunities throughout the year, including regular lunchtime concerts, our Winter Wonders and Summer Celebration weekends where all of MM:YP get involved, and external concerts; tutors and study leaders discuss which students should perform.

We ask that students discuss any external performances, competitions or auditions with their tutor before agreeing to them as it is important that students are properly prepared and that the experience fits into the planning for that year.

Piano Accompanists

Students should discuss piano accompanist rehearsal needs with their tutor and book rehearsal time with an accompanist through the MEC reception on a Sunday. Students are encouraged to plan ahead and are responsible for getting their piano part to their accompanist at least one week in advance of their rehearsal.


It is important that students look after any music they are given; we may charge for music that is lost or damaged.

Weekly Timetable

All students have their own timetable and so it is important that they check notice boards for any timing or room changes.

Practice Rooms

NB: We currently are not able to book practice rooms during the week due to restrictions around Covid protocols and Sage Gateshead staffing.

Practice rooms can be booked during the week. Booking requests should be emailed to up to two weeks in advance, and no less than three working days before the date required. Please note that demand on MEC rooms is very high and we can only offer free use to students after Sage Gateshead’s complete programme has been fully accommodated. There may be occasions when, even after you have been offered a room, it will be needed for another activity. In these circumstances students will be informed by Sage Gateshead.

It is strictly against Sage Gateshead policy for tutors and students to use MEC rooms for private teaching.

Activity Days

There are two designated Activity Days during the year when programme specific activities and workshops with visiting artists are planned by the Study Leader team. These are normally in October and January.

Missed Lessons
  • All of our tutors are professional and active musicians and could occasionally have rehearsals/ performances on a CAT day. In this event or if a tutor is ill we will rearrange any lessons or find a substitute tutor.  We also sometimes move lessons onto our online platform.
  • If a student misses a lesson because of illness or with permission of absence we cannot guarantee that these lessons will be made up.
  • If a student misses a lesson without permission we will not make the lesson up. If they miss more than two lessons without reason we will have to discuss their commitment to the CAT with them and their parents/guardians.

Withdrawing from the Centre for Advanced Training

If a student considers withdrawing from the CAT during the year we would like parents/guardians and the student to arrange a meeting with us to discuss the options. If a student then decides to withdraw we would need a letter in writing. A fee for the current term would still have to be paid. If notice is given less than six weeks before the start of a new term, then the new term fee will also have to be paid in full.

Please note, we currently only accept withdrawals from the programme during the Autumn Term. Withdrawal during the Spring Term will result in the full amount being due for both Spring and Summer Terms. However, we understand that there are occasionally exceptional circumstances and these will be considered.

These notes and conditions are subject to change from time to time. Parents will be notified in writing in advance of any changes.

CAT Student? Come and Experience Live Music for Less!

If You’re a CAT student, have we got news for you! Did you know that if you’re under 17, you can get a ticket to see RNS at Home, RNS presents and RNS nights out concerts for just a fiver? And, if you’re 18 or 19 you can get a ticket to these concerts AND a bottle of beer for just £5?

Please note, RNS Nights Out concert tickets are only available in this offer on the day of the performance. 

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