Skip to main content

Sage Gateshead

 →  Make Music  →  Young People  →  Young Musicians Programme - You Ask Us

Young Musicians Programme - You Ask Us

Who are you?

We are about 350 children and young people from age 4 – 19 who love playing and making music. We come from all sorts of backgrounds, we want to make sure everyone is welcome and can study with us. Lots of us don’t have to pay any fees thanks to our two main bursary schemes.

Who will I meet?

Hannah is the Young Musicians Programme (YMP) Manager.  Samantha is the Coordinator for Centre for Advanced Training, Singing Pathway and Folkestra, and Joseph is the Coordinator for  Foundation Strings, Step Up, and other Youth Ensembles.  You may also meet Sam who coordinates the YMP communications and systems.

You’ll also meet and work with a huge team of tutors and other visiting musicians.  Each of our programmes has an artistic lead who works collaboratively across all of the areas of YMP. These are all overseen by Principal Study Leader James Craig.  You can find out more about who might be teaching you by visiting our Meet the Music Leaders page

On residentials and at performances, Ensembles will spend time with our pastoral team, a group of people who, as well as being trained to keep you safe, are specifically there to support you and make the experience fun for you.

How can I contact you?

Because we aren’t always in the office at the same time, the quickest way is to send an email to

Where will I be?

Most YMP activity takes place at Sage Gateshead on Saturdays and Sundays.  We know that Sage Gateshead can seem big, you might not know how to get into the building or where you need to go once you are inside. We are here to make sure you feel welcome, confident and safe. You’ll soon get used to it, find your way around and feel at home. We are always here to help you.  We do most of our classes in the Music Education Centre (MEC) which you can find by going down the staircase beside the cafe.

During the closure of Sage Gateshead we developed our online platform on Microsoft Teams – YMP at Home.  We still use this for communication between tutors and students, occasional online lessons (should someone need to isolate for example), and for sharing music.  We also have an online concert hall where you can share videos of your performances.

When are the classes?

Our classes mainly happen on a weekend, sometimes concerts and residentials take place during the week.  Schedules can be found on the individual programme pages: Foundation and Step Up programmes take place on a Saturday daytime and Centre for Advanced Training takes place on a Sunday daytime.

How do I get there?

We have a big car park at the back of the building, and members of YMP can get parking for £2 a day.

If you’re on public transport then there are buses that stop nearby and there are metro stations at Gateshead, Central Station, and Monument are only a short walk.  If you’re under 11 then you can travel for free on the metro at the weekend.

You can see more on how to get here, and detail on reaching us if you have access issues here.

So…how do I apply?

First, check out all our programmes and decide what you think you would like to take part in.  If you’re not sure then you can always just drop us an email on and we’ll help you choose.

Applications open in March and close in April for a September start.  You will find a form on our home page where you (or an adult) will give us some basic information about yourself and any musical experiences you’ve had so far. These experiences can be anything from enjoying singing songs at home, to any exams you might have taken or bands you’ve played in.

Some of the programmes have auditions which take place during May.

What’s an audition like?

For the last three years our audition process has been managed remotely and auditions were via video.  This has proved really successful and we will be doing this again for the 23/24 season.  It will involve you sending us a video, and we will send you detailed information if you are required to audition.  

The information below relates to our in person audition process. We CAN still offer in person auditions if required.

We audition people from all backgrounds and whatever their personal circumstances we support their access to music study. Our team will support you to feel as comfortable as possible when you come to an audition. So you know what to expect we have made this audition guide.

You can find out more about auditions in this video:

For some of our programmes you don’t need to audition. We ask for information on your application form to help us decide who gets places and to make sure this is as fair as possible for everyone.

What happens if I don’t get a place?

 If you don’t get a place on our auditioned programmes, we will always provide you with detailed feedback on things to work on and other groups and programmes that might suit you.

If we don’t offer you a place on our non-auditioned programmes then we will provide you with information about your local Music Education Hub.  We are always happy to have a more detailed chat if you would like one, either on the phone or in person.

Why do I have to apply so early?

Although it might seem early to apply in March for a September start, we have hundreds of applications each year, and it takes a long time to look at them, review auditions, and help people apply for bursaries. We accept applications after the deadline although it is less likely that places will still be available on your first choice programme.  Please get in touch with us and we will always try our best to work something out.

How much does all this cost?

You can find information on fees on the individual programme pages.  Bursaries and grants are available so that lots of young people don’t have to pay any fees. You can find more detail here.

Where will this take me?

You can stay in YMP and progress until you’re 19. We have lots of young people who have gone on to work as professional musicians, as well as many who have chosen to do something different. Whatever you choose to do in the future, we want to support you to gain the skills, confidence and self-belief to make it happen.

You can see some YMP members’ stories here…

Anna Appleby, Young Sinfonia
Since starting her music training with Young Sinfonia, Newcastle-born composer Anna Appleby, has written for a range of musicians including opera singers and Royal Northern Sinfonia. Read more.

Peter Qiang
Peter Qiang has a hearing impairment. He moved to England from China a few years ago and was already a proficient piano player. He was shy and couldn’t speak much English and was keen to continue his musical development. Read more.

What do I need?

For most programmes, it is just you and your instrument. On our beginner programmes we will often sort out an instrument for you, or we can advise you on where to buy and schemes to help with the cost. We provide all sheet music for our ensembles. If you’re having individual lessons your teacher will help you choose the right music to buy. We can often help with the cost of music, strings and reeds etc.

What do I wear?

For rehearsals you can wear whatever makes you feel comfortable. For Ensemble concerts we provide some dress guidelines, usually this is plain black clothes and nothing expensive.

What about food and drink?

All young people in YMP are entitled to a 10% discount in the café at Sage Gateshead. You can collect a membership card from the MEC reception. You are welcome to bring your own packed lunch/snacks and you can eat these anywhere in our building.  There are free water dispensers in the MEC but we recommend you bring your own reusable bottle.

Do I have to follow loads of strict rules?

The YMP team have some simple rules that help everyone to work well together. These are mainly to make sure everyone has a good time and learns as much as they want to.

If you want to leave the programme we have some guidelines and tend to need six weeks’ notice before the start of a new term. Hannah will always be glad to talk about any concerns you might have before you make a decision.

Centre for Advanced Training has a few extra guidelines, which can be found on the CAT information page.

Do I get any discounts on tickets…?

We do our best to get YMP students free tickets when we can, this isn’t always possible. When we have free tickets we always send an email to let you know.

Royal Northern Sinfonia (RNS) offer £5 tickets to under 18’s for some of their concerts. If you receive a bursary from us, then you would also be entitled to a £5 ticket for your parent/guardian.

For all ticket offers you will need to order via phone or in person, and just let the Box Office team member know that you are a YMP student.

Can I do my practice there?

We know it isn’t always easy to practice at home, so you can practice here during the week.

To do this you need to email up to 2 weeks in advance, and no less than 3 working days before the date you need. Our MEC is very busy, so we can’t always guarantee a room, we will always do our best.

There may be times when, even after you have been offered a room, we then need it for another activity. If this happens, we will let you know, and do our best to find you a different room.

(NB: During our period of recovery we are unable to offer practice rooms to students.  We will open this offer again as soon as we can.)


North Music Trust believes that all children and young people have the right to grow up in a safe and caring environment, which includes the right to protection from all types of abuse. They have a right to expect that adults in positions of responsibility do everything possible to uphold these rights. All Young Musicians Programme tutors and pastoral staff have a current DBS check, and take part in regular training in all areas of safeguarding to keep their knowledge up to date.

You can access our safeguarding policies here.

If you have any safeguarding concerns or allegations, please report them immediately using the following
contact information:
Number: (0191) 443 4625 (24 hours)