National Choirs

National Boys Choir

Ages: 10 - 17

A choir for ambitious young singers that consistently thrills audiences with its rich and wonderful sound.

The choir gives boys, with unchanged and changed voices, a unique opportunity to sing together to the highest standard. The wide-ranging concert repertoire is learned and rehearsed extensively in search of the perfect tone quality and musical character that makes this choir’s performance so thrilling to hear live. Continually going from strength to strength, National Boys Choir enjoys performing across Scotland and the UK, including at the Edinburgh International Festival.

The choir meets annually around Easter time for a residential course where the time is divided into full rehearsals, sectional rehearsals and musicianship games sessions. Concerts across Scotland are organised at the end of the course and at other times, as appropriate.

The Herald

“qualities of pristine articulation, dead centre intonation, quality of tone and an openness of delivery that is honest in its impact, have an irresistible emotional effect”

Register Your Interest

Members of our national choirs are amongst the most promising young singers in the UK and admission to our choirs is by an annual audition.

Applications for NYCOS National Choirs 2025 open in late summer 2024. Register your interest and we’ll let you know when applications are open.


Choir Sections

Because boys, and their voices, change quickly, the National Boys Choir has three sections suitable for all ages and stages:

National Boys Training Choir 
For boys with unchanged voices who could benefit from a little more time to develop and gain the experience needed for progression.

National Boys Training Choir

National Boys Choir
For more experienced singers with unchanged voices who can cope with the increased musical and vocal demands of a national choir.

National Boys Choir

National Boys Changing Voices Choir 
For older boys with changing voices; this choir supports singers through the stages of vocal development and keeps them singing.

National Boys Changing Voice Choir


Members of the National Boys Choir are amongst the most promising young male singers in Scotland and admission to the choir is by audition. We want you to have a successful audition, so we’ll be listening out for what you do well. Preparation is key; it’s never too early to start practising. After hearing you, Christopher Bell will decide whether you are ready for membership of the National Boys Training Choir, the National Boys Choir or the National Boys Changing Voices Choir.

What to sing at the audition

You should bring a song you have learned and can sing well in a classical style; your singing or class teacher should be able to advise you on suitable repertoire. We strongly suggest you do not sing songs from musicals as these often don’t show off the full vocal potential. An accompanist will be provided. In addition, applicants will be given simple exercises to sing to test the range of their voices and may be asked to sing a simple song at sight. For more information, see the Audition Guidelines.

Audition locations

Depending on numbers, auditions may be held in Aberdeen, Dumfries, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Perth. The opportunity to audition online may be available to anyone with accessibility needs or in remote locations.

Residential Course

The activities for the year all stem from the six-day residential course at Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh, where the repertoire is learned. Members will have vocal coaching, musicianship training and full choir rehearsals with highly qualified music staff who are experts in their field.

Concerts & Engagements

The course finishes with a public concert for all sections of the Choir, where friends and family can experience the spectacular results of the work undertaken during the residential course.

The Choir will take part in exciting additional engagements, full details of which will be advised prior to the audition. Members will be expected to take part in both the residential course and additional engagements.

Costs & Financial Assistance

We want you to apply, regardless of your needs, income or background. Auditions are free, all of our venues are accessible, you don’t need any specific experience and fees can be reduced up to 100% based on sibling discounts and household income.

Fees are paid in 3 instalments of £180 for National Boys Choir and Changing Voice Choir or 3 instalments of £155 for the Training Choir. Costs are inclusive of membership, full-board accommodation, provision of music, additional engagements and all activities for the residential course.

If you have any questions or feel that anything is stopping you from applying, please contact Kenny Boyd and he would be happy to help.

If you are enthusiastic about singing, enjoy it and are prepared to work hard to sing to your full potential, we would like to hear from you.

No. Members must be available for all parts of the commitment. The team trains together and performs together – if members of the team disappear it affects our performance.

All parts of the residential course are important. At the beginning you are learning new music and settling into the course structure, and if you miss the beginning you will lose a lot, perhaps never catching up.

We prefer members to come to the course and stay for the duration, unless there is a pre-agreed extenuating circumstance. For example, in the past people have had a hospital appointment which if missed could not be re-organised for months. Each case is different so is considered individually.

For concerts, members of the National Boys Choir will be provided by NYCOS with a blue shirt so that everyone looks the same. Members of the National Boys Training Choir will need to provide and wear a plain white shirt. Our Changing Voices choir will need to provide a plain black shirt. All choir members should bring long black trousers and plain black shoes. If you receive any reduction of fees we can offer support with any uniform costs or requirements. The rest of the time you can wear what you like.

The choir meets for a 6 day residential course around Easter time. Occasionally the choir will be asked to take part in other engagements throughout the year.

The school is set in extensive grounds and, as well as providing for all our musical needs, has sports facilities. The timetable includes recreational activities supervised by our house staff. There’s also a swimming pool, TV room with videos and a quiet room for reading.

NYCOS National Boys Choir is directed by Christopher Bell, Artistic Director. Kenny Boyd, National Choirs Producer, leads a team of qualified and experienced house staff. NYCOS has Child Protection Guidelines to ensure the wellbeing of choir members.

Boys aged 10 – 17 born, resident/studying in Scotland, or of Scottish descent. Boys aged 16 upwards are also eligible to apply for NYCOS Training Choir. Only one audition will be required if you apply for both choirs.

This is a national choir. In order to perform at the highest possible standard it needs to recruit the best singers available each year. To keep your place in the choir you need to work at maintaining and improving your vocal and musicianship skills.


Auditions for 2024 choirs are now closed. Auditions for 2025 Choirs will be around November 2024.


1st April – 6th April 2024

6th April: Concert at St Michael’s Parish Church, Linlithgow


Merchiston Castle School
294 Colinton Road, Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH13 0PU

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