The main purpose of all our activities is, as our name implies, the process of rehearsal. We do not give concerts, but at the end of each course there is an open rehearsal, to which a non-paying audience is invited. During the open rehearsal, we reserve the right to fall apart, play wrong notes, stop, and generally lose the plot completely – but we very rarely do. By taking away the pressure of performance and placing the focus on the process of exploring a piece of music, we are able to enhance players' enjoyment and appreciation of the music while simultaneously achieving a high standard of execution.

A Rehearsal Orchestra course is typically a draining but rewarding experience, and you should come away from it tired and satisfied.

There are three kinds of Rehearsal Orchestra course: One-day, Two-day, and Full-Week.

All course fees are subsidised by our fundraising activities and fees are further reduced for students. Some bursary funding is available: please enquire when applying for courses. In addition to the general full and part bursaries we offer, we have two specific bursary schemes:

Co-Principal Strings Student Bursary scheme

If you are currently studying full-time at a UK conservatoire and would appreciate the opportunity to work intensively on large-scale symphonic repertoire with professional conductors, without the pressure of public performance, at the same time as benefiting directly from the experience of our professional string principals, why not apply for the Co-Principal Strings Student bursary scheme? Successful applicants will be offered a bursary-funded place on one of our London weekend courses as co-principal first or second violin, viola, cello or double bass. A modest contribution to travel costs is available to participants studying outside London.

Play ON bursary programme
Our new bursary programme, Play ON, initiated in 2022 and funded by a grant from the Victoria Wood Foundation, enables us to offer a number of bursary-funded places on London weekend courses in 2002 and 2023 to current conservatoire students and recent graduates across all sections of the orchestra, particularly those who graduated during the Covid pandemic. A contribution to travel costs is available to all participants.

To apply for either scheme, please email with your CV.  

Gillian Halse Bursary Fund

Harold Taylor, partner of Gillian Halse Noel who co-founded the Rehearsal Orchestra in 1957, very kindly gave a legacy in his will in Gill’s memory to fund student bursaries for our annual Edinburgh rehearsal week.

A hugely beneficial and enjoyable experience. I have discovered two new works which I might otherwise not have come across. Sitting amongst the principal string players is a hugely valuable learning experience, allowing me to realise the issues I should be considering and discussing in student-led ensembles. My desk-partner was very welcoming and I really learnt how the part should be played without having to be told through words.

Violin postgraduate student, RNCM

There will often be a photographer present on our courses, even our very own artist Adele Wagstaff drawing and painting.  Applying for courses implicitly gives your consent to being photographed and/or drawn and the resulting images used on our website, on social media or in printed material. Please let us know if you do not give your consent.


These offer intensive explorations of shorter pieces, with an open rehearsal (informal play-through) at the end of the day.

Usual timings: 10.30 am to 6.45 pm (approx.)

Cost (2024): £39, student £25

String player discount: book two one-day courses: £70, students £45

Free parking on-site (for players of large instruments) at most venues and in surrounding streets.

These comprise a single three- or four-hour session on Saturday (afternoon or evening), followed by a full Sunday, culminating in an open rehearsal (informal play-through). These courses usually cover a single, large-scale orchestral work (e.g. Strauss tone poems, Mahler symphonies, Stravinsky ballets etc.)

Usual timings: Saturday 2.30 pm to 5.30 pm, Sunday 10.30 am to 6.45 pm (approx.)

Cost (2024): £59, students £35

Free parking on-site (for players of large instruments) at most venues and in surrounding streets.

Our annual August visit to Edinburgh, coinciding with the first week of the International Festival and Fringe. Running from Saturday to Friday, this is a stimulating week of concentrated music making which has been held every year since the orchestra's foundation in 1957 (apart from 2020 and 2021). 

Reduced fees are available for students and for players finding their own accommodation.

Cost (2024): Resident £710, non-resident £435; student resident £495, student non-resident £315.