Join the Society

If you already play or think you would enjoy playing traditional music you’re welcome to apply to join the Society. We currently run three ensembles: the Senior Orchestra, The Junior Orchestra and the Afternoon Group. And if you just enjoy listening to the music, we carry a non-playing membership option so there’s a chance for you to get involved too. We’ve been asked many questions by prospective members over the years – we hope you’ll find all the information you need below, but if not please just get in touch.

What instruments do you have in your orchestras?

The principal instruments of the orchestra are violin, accordion, double bass and a piano but other traditional instruments may be accepted by arrangement. Current or past memberships include cello, clarsach, flute and whistle players.

When/where do you rehearse?

The orchestras rehearse on Monday evenings from the first Monday in September until the following May. Check out our latest rehearsal arrangements page for details of our current rehearsal venue/arrangements.

What standard of playing do I need to be at?

We try to be as flexible as we can in accommodating a range of playing abilities. For the Senior Orchestra, as a rough guide you will probably find it more comfortable if you are equivalent to Grade 3 as a minimum. Don’t be intimidated though, we look to accommodate improvers and often you’ll find that simpler musical options are available in our sets for less confident players.

Recent experience isn’t a requirement – many of our members have joined to revive old skills after a long period of not playing or have taken up playing in recent years and are looking to put their new skills to use for the first time. Experience of traditional Scottish music isn’t a requirement either.

If you feel that your skills are a little rusty or you are just getting started, you are welcome to attend our junior orchestra session where the repertoire is just as varied but is designed to accommodate all abilities.

If you don’t play an instrument but wish to be involved with the Society a non-playing membership may be available to allow you to join. Just get in touch with us.

Do I need to read music?

The short answer to this question is yes. However don’t let this put you off if you feel your music reading abilities are relatively basic. As long as you are able to read the notes, you might be surprised at how quickly your reading skills will improve.

Do I need to audition?

No, auditions for membership are not held. As long as you meet the playing requirements above all you need to do is complete a membership application form which you can download below. Applications are normally submitted to the Society’s management committee for approval at their next meeting.

How much does it cost?

The full membership fee is currently £60 however there is also a concession fee of £30, all fees are payable by the first Monday in November each year, there is no pro-rata reduction for joining during the course of the session.

To qualify for a concession fee you should be one of the following:-

  • be aged under 16 on 5th September
  • in receipt of a state pension
  • a student/scholar in full time education

Do you accept members from outside Aberdeen City?

There’s no geographical restriction on membership but you will need to be able to attend rehearsals in Aberdeen and concerts, most of which take place in or near the City. Most of our current members live in Aberdeen or Aberdeenshire.

How often do I need to attend rehearsals and concerts?

Playing members are expected to attend rehearsals regularly (ideally at least twice a month, but we recognise that people may have shift patterns or other work/family commitments that have to come first). There’s no requirement to play at a fixed number of concerts in a session although members are encouraged to take part in concerts.

Do I need my own instrument?

Yes. The Society don’t keep an instrument bank so you will need to have your own to play.

Do you offer tuition?

We don’t offer individual tuition although there can be a workshop element to some of our rehearsals, particularly if we are looking at more advanced or complicated tunes or techniques.

What is concert dress?

Concert dress depends on the size/formality of the concert. For our larger concerts tartan is the preference for both ladies (long or short kilt) and gents (kilt or trousers), but black skirts or trousers are also acceptable. For smaller, more informal performances the dress code may be smart/casual.

How is the Society managed?

The affairs of the Society are managed in accordance with its Constitution and Rules. The Society is run by a Management Committee elected at the Annual General Meeting.

What music do you play?

Our primary aim is the practice and performance of traditional Scottish music. Traditional refers to the type and style of music rather than its age and we often feature new composers as well as past masters such as J Scott Skinner. In addition to Strathspeys and Reels our repertoire includes Marches, Waltzes, Two Steps, Barn dances, Quick Steps, Bothy Ballads, Traditional songs and the occasional piece of International Music.

The music is performed in an orchestral setting and is often arranged in two or more parts. This adds interest and variety for both the audience and more advanced players.

How do I apply?

Come along to a rehearsal and see us in action – you’re welcome to join in if you bring your instrument. If you’ve got any queries or would like to see what we’re playing in advance just contact us via the website form. We can usually provide you with a link to download the music before the rehearsal. Looking forward to seeing you…