Play Away Days

Play Away Days are events in which we form a string orchestra and a wind band from scratch, learn a variety of repertoire and put on a concert – all in one day!

The next Play Away Day is on Sunday 24 November at Strathallan School. Click here to book now

Play Away Days are a great opportunity for younger children to experience ensemble playing for the first time, and for older children to build on their existing experience, make new friends and reconnect with friends they met during our summer courses and previous Play Away Days.

The ensembles are led by Susan Dingle (wind band) and Joanna Petrie (string orchestra), supported by other instrumental tutors.

Play Away Days normally take place in November at Strathallan School near Perth, and in February at St George’s School in Edinburgh.

Autumn Play Away Day – 24 November 2019, Strathallan School

The November Play Away Day takes place in the beautiful surroundings of Strathallan School, Perthshire. The event runs from 10am-4pm and includes a mix of full rehearsals and sectional rehearsals, and a musical quiz at lunchtime. Parents and friends are invited back from 2.45pm to meet their children for a cup of tea and join us for the final concert at 3.30pm, where the participants will showcase what they have been working on.

Who can come?

Play Away Days are open to any child aged 8 and above who play a string or wind band instrument at grade 2 and above. There are no auditions. Please note that unfortunately we are not able to accommodate guitar players or pianists at Play Away Days.

What does it cost?

The cost of the day is £44.50, with a discounted rate of £39.50 for applications received by 15 November. A coach is available from Edinburgh at an additional cost of £12.50 (please note this does not include return travel as most parents join us for the end-of-course concerts. We may be able to arrange lifts back to Edinburgh on request).

How to sign up

To book a place on the Play Away Day please fill in our online application form. After completing the form you will be directed to an online payment system, or you can choose to send us a cheque. Please ensure you read the terms and conditions of booking and our privacy policy.

If you would prefer not to apply online, please download and fill in this application form (PDF) and return by post.

All further correspondence will be carried out by email – please ensure you add to your safe senders list.

If you have any queries please contact Kate on

Play Away Day Staff

Susan Dingle

Conductor of the Wind Bands

Susan has an honours degree in music from Sheffield University and an M.Mus (conducting) from the RSAMD (now the RCS) in Glasgow, where she studied with Martyn Brabbins. She also studied at the State Conservatory in St. Petersburg with Alexander Polishchuk and Ilya Musin.

She is principal conductor of the Highland Chamber Orchestra, the Caithness Orchestra and the Wick Choral Society. She was Music Director of the Cumbernauld Choir for 14 years and founder conductor of the Glasgow Caledonian University Choir and has conducted the Renfrewshire Schools Symphony and Stirlingshire Youth Orchestras.

She relocated to Caithness in 2012 and is now running with Katrina Gordon, providing instrumental instruction and group music-making activities for as wide a cross-section of the Caithness community as possible. They recently created the Far North Youth Orchestra for ages 8-13 from Caithness and Sutherland and established the Caithness Junior Orchestra in September 2014.

Joanna Petrie

Conductor of the String Orchestra

Since graduating with a BA (Hons) in music from Durham University and a Certificate of Postgraduate Studies in viola from the RSAMD (now RCS), Joanna has enjoyed building a career which has combined the complementary disciplines of teaching, playing and ensemble direction. She spent the first 15 or so years of her career freelancing for the BBCSSO, the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, the Orchestra of Scottish Ballet and smaller chamber groups, along with teaching across several councils and independent schools in Scotland.

Favourite moments from this time include going on foreign tours, especially to South America where she tried tango dancing; a production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle where she learnt the importance of a really tasty packed tea for keeping up energy; and many exciting BBC Proms concerts and recordings where she learnt that people in the queue for the Proms really do put out table-cloths and glasses on the pavement. She also benefited from working with children and adults with additional support needs through the charity Artlink and has tutored for SScOT and other youth orchestras since 2004, where she can pass on her tips for stamina, amongst other topics, to the next generation of players.

Joanna has enjoyed learning what young players like most about ensemble playing through her five-year directorship of the string orchestras at Hillfoots Music for Youth in Alva, and is now a string teacher and Co-ordinator of Co-curricular Music at the High School of Dundee where she has the pleasure of conducting several string ensembles of different ages and levels.

She is currently undertaking further study in just what makes a string ensemble tick with the hope of giving the lasting gift of this wonderful pastime to musicians from the younger generation.