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Soul Boxes Workshop © Mihaela Bodlovic 050

Our work with Children & Families

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.

Polly Uttley And Her Classmates Play On The Outdoor Stage At Hermitage Park Primary School Provided By Edinburgh International Festival © Ryan Buchanan Ryan Buchanan

Play On: Stages

Play On: Stages is a project that seeks to build stages in the playgrounds of primary schools in Edinburgh in place of the stages left empty in August 2020. Built in consultation with teachers and pupils, the structures are design to bring theatricality to the school and support young people to play, perform and learn outdoors.

Alongside each structure the International Festival will provide online resources and a programme of engagement activities to support creativity and learning. 

More information on the stages and our full Play On: Stages resource can be found here.

Art of Listening

Bookings now open for 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.

If you would like to book a place for your Primary 7 class/es, please complete this short Online Application Form. Places are provided on a first come, first served basis, and the opportunity is open to Edinburgh primary schools.

If you have any further questions, please email

Vm Schools Ryan Buchanan 026 Virgin Money Schools Concert 2019 | Photo: Ryan Buchanan

Virgin Money Schools Concert

The International Festival and Scottish Chamber Orchestra present the Virgin Money Schools Concert, our annual open-air classical music concert for Primary 7 pupils.

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The 2019 Virgin Money Schools Concert took place on Monday 26 August and saw 2000 Primary 7 pupils and their teachers enjoy a fantastic classical music concert at the Ross Bandstand in Princes Street Gardens on a gloriously sunny August afternoon.

The full Scottish Chamber Orchestra treated attendees to the same repertoire from the 2019 Virgin Money Fireworks Concert which took place later that day including Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique. To support learning around this magical programme and help guide the pupils through the music, we welcomed back presenter Rachel Leach who introduced the composers and stories behind each piece.

A digital Teaching Resource to support learning in the classroom was also produced and shared with teachers before the Summer holidays in order for them to plan activities in advance of attending the Concert. We were also thrilled to have been able to provide transport support to 24 schools in order to make their attendance at the Concert possible.

New for 2019, we were delighted to offer any teachers booked for the Schools Concert the opportunity to attend an interactive teacher’s CPD with Rachel Leach in advance of the Concert. 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!

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.

My Festival: My Story

Storytelling project for Primary 6s

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Theatre company 1927 brought their brand-new production Roots to the 2019 International Festival which explored a collection of folk tales from around the globe, all told imaginatively through their combination of movement, music and animation. In May and June 2019, 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 were documented and shared with each school to see how their stories were brought to life.

During the International Festival, the animations from the workshops were displayed in at the Church Hill Theatre in specially created raree boxes inspired by the Raree Show exhibitions that date back to the 15th Century where pictures and objects were viewed through a small hole or magnifying glass and presented by wandering showmen. A zine of the stories created by the participants is also being created so that each pupil can take home their own catalogue of stories.

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 were 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.

9 Family Workshop 6 Cas Public's Family Dance Workshop

Cas Public Family Workshops

Family Dance Workshops at the International Festival.

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To coincide with the International Festival’s presentation of Cas Public’s 9, dancers Cai Glover and Daphnée Laurendeau from the company presented two family workshops in August. Exploring the sign-language base of the show’s choreography, the dancers taught participants a series of steps that they performed to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. In groups the participants then took the individual steps from the choreography they had learnt and created their own routines to perform to the rest of the workshop.

Five Telegrams 2 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.

18 08 2019 Eif Quatuor Mona Gaelle Beri 33

More about our work with Communities

19 08 2019 Eif Technical Workshop Gaelle Beri 23

Our work with Young People

Ane Satyre Of The Thrie Estaitis © Ryan Buchanan 29

Our work with Creative Development