Case Study: Early Years Hospital Visits

LSO Discovery’s Children's Hospitals programme works with infants and children aged 0-18 in hospitals across London, many of whom suffer from chronic, life-threatening or terminal illness. LSO players and workshops leaders engage in one-to-one bedside visits and small group sessions, as well as working in pre-existing hospital school units.

Music soothes the savage beast
‘Together with LSO players, I make around 15 early years hospital visits a year – that’s out of a total of of 36 visits overall, involving over 500 children and families. We visit places like King’s College, Royal London and Whipp’s Cross with one simple aim: to improve the daily lives of ill children.

My speciality is young children and babies. Hospitals are stressful environments full stop; the psychological vulnerability that accompanies childhood only compounds a difficult situation. Our sessions are gentle, private and spontaneous – we take our cue from the children, each of whom is totally unique. We witness so many positive results: escapism from a frightening environment of noisy machines and adult conversations. Access to important, unrealised emotions. Catharsis. It’s about expressing yourself without words, having a troubled mind nursed without medicine.

And mums, dads and nurses feel the benefit too. Our sessions are a stabilising, hopeful force in a so often unstable, bleak environment. Finally, sound mental health is an irrefutable driver of physical recovery. It constantly amazes me that by doing comparatively little we can make such profound shifts.’

Vanessa King, February 2014

About LSO Discovery

25 years of education and community

25 years of education and community work through LSO Discovery.

In 2015 LSO Discovery, the Orchestra’s world-leading music education and community programme, celebrates a quarter of a century.

It all began in the late 1980s, when LSO cellist Frances Saunders began to explore how the Orchestra could incorporate education work into its schedule. In 1990 the LSO appointed its first Head of Education and three years later the increasingly innovative programme was re-named LSO Discovery.

Read the full brochure:

Education and outreach is now an inextricable part of the LSO’s DNA. LSO Discovery exists to offer inspiring musical experiences to people of all ages and backgrounds who have not necessarily had much contact with classical music and musicians.

It also provides support and training for emerging young instrumentalists, composers and conductors, and gives insight into music for members of the public who would like to learn more. LSO Discovery work is captured and disseminated digitally, for individual enthusiasts, learners and teachers in the UK and worldwide. LSO Discovery brings LSO Members into contact with a wider public, as well as developing their interests and skills.

'The LSO's Discovery programme has been a source of great pleasure to me as a player... The spirit that motivates the Orchestra's activity is something rare and I hope that it enriches the lives of those with whom we come into contact.' Robert Turner, LSO viola.

By including LSO Discovery participants in the highest profile events, such as international tours, the 2012 Olympic Games and concerts with Sir Simon Rattle, the LSO demonstrates its belief in the immutable place of music education as the foundation of all great music-making.

LSO Discovery in numbers

Join us this summer for a series of events celebrating LSO Discovery in all its colour and variety, from emerging composer workshops and a community singing day to Barbican concerts with the full Orchestra.

Public events

Panufnik Composers workshop
Fri 5 Jun 2015 10am-1pm, 2-6pm, LSO St Luke's
Eight Panufnik scheme composers have new pieces workshopped and discussed by the LSO and Francois-Xavier Roth.
> More info

Pre-concert LSO Platforms: Guildhall Artists 
Sun 7 Jun 2015 6pm, Barbican foyer
One of a series of 12 throughout the year, providing a professional platform for Guildhall School students. This evening features Korngold's chamber music.
> More info

LSO Discovery Lunchtime Concert
Fri 12 Jun 2015 12.30pm, LSO St Luke's
Guildhall violinists perform in an accessible and informal concert introduced by Rachel Leach, with a chance for audiences to ask questions.
> More info

Soundhub Showcase
Sat 13 Jun 2015 7pm, LSO St Luke's
Two composers in their first year of LSO Soundhub membership, Daniel Kidane and Na’ama Zisser, have spent the year pushing their work in unexpected directions with a series of new chamber pieces written for members of the LSO to perform.
> More info

Community Singing Day: African American Journey
Sat 20 Jun 2015 10.30am-4.30pm, LSO St Luke's
David Lawrence conducts singers of all abilities in music from early gospel to sounds of today accompanied by a gospel trio of piano, percussion and bass guitar. Reading music not essential.
> More info

LSO Discovery Day: Ludwig Van Beethoven
Sun 21 Jun 2015 10am–5.30pm, Barbican/LSO St Luke's
Watch a rehearsal of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with Bernard Haitink, followed by an afternoon talk by a Beethoven expert and performances of Beethoven's chamber music played by LSO Musicians.
> More info

Take a Bow!
Tue 23 Jun 2015 6.30pm, LSO St Luke's
80 year 4/5 children from Tower Hamlets and Bexley come together to perform a new commission Look Mum No Hands by Michael Betteridge, Soundhub Associate composer; with Nicola Benedetti, who also performs with the LSO String Orchestra.
> More info

Pictures in Music
Thu 25 Jun 2015 7.30pm, Barbican
LSO Assistant Conductor and winner of the LSO Donatella Flick Conducting Competition Elim Chan conducts movements of Pictures at an Exhibition interspersed with music created and performed by primary school children, followed by Deeds not Words, a new composition performed by the LSO On Track Next Generation ensemble.
> More info

LSO Discovery Lunchtime Concert
Fri 26 Jun 2015 12.30pm, LSO St Luke's
LSO Violinists Maxine Kwok Adams and Philip Nolte perform in an accessible and informal concert introduced by Rachel Leach, with the chance for audiences to ask questions.
> More info

Season Finale
Sun 5 Jul 2015 7.30pm, Barbican
Simon Rattle leads the LSO in the premiere of Jonathan Dove's new children's opera, The Monster in the Maze, alongside the LSO Discovery Junior and Senior choirs and the LSO Community Choir.
> More info

LSO Woodwind Academy Showcase
Tue 7 Jul 2015 7pm, LSO St Luke's
During the first week of July LSO St Luke's will be awash with some of the most talented woodwind players from across the UK. Join them for this concert that showcases the week's work.
> More info

Storytelling for Under-5s
Fri 10 Jul 2015 12.30pm, LSO St Luke's
An interactive concert with Vanessa King and LSO musicians retelling a popular children’s story through music, with dancing and singing to join in.
> More info

Digital Technology Group Concert
Sun 26 Jul 2015 7.30pm, LSO St Luke's
LSO Soundhub composer Robert Szymanek curates an evening of music in collaboration with teenage members of the LSO St Luke's Digital Technology Group.
More info


Private events

Although the events listed below are not open to the public, they demonstrate the breadth of activity on offer during the Discovery at 25 period.

Panufnik Legacies 2 recording
Wed 3 & Thu 4 Jun 2015
A second CD featuring works by composers from the 2011–13 Panufnik scheme, as selected by composer Colin Matthews and contemporary specialist François-Xavier Roth.

The Monster in the Maze Creative Project
Fri 12 Jun 2015
KS2 children from Islington have been working with Matthew Forbes and LSO Musicians to create musical stories/mini operas using Jonathan Dove's The Monster in the Maze as inpiration. These will be performed alongside the LSO Discovery Junior Choir singing works connected with the opera's themes.

Key Stage 2 Schools Concerts
Mon 29 Jun 2015 10.40am & 12pm
Pre-booked school groups experience Pictures at an Exhibition conducted by Elim Chan, with introductions by Rachel Leach.

LSO Woodwind Academy
Fri 3–Tue 7 Jul 2015
30 promising young woodwind players aged 14–24 work with LSO principal wind players in orchestral-focussed workshops and masterclasses ending with a showcase concert.

MMus in Orchestral Artistry completion
Fri 17 Jul 2015
The first cohort of Orchestral Artistry students complete the new 2-year MMus in Orchestral Artistry at the Guildhall School.

Mediterranean Youth Orchestra Coaching
Thu 2–Mon 6 Jul, Sun 12–Tue 21 Jul 2015
LSO musicians coach the Mediterranean Youth Orchestra based in Aix-en-Provence.


Introduce your family to music

A great way to introduce your children to music and the orchestra.

A great way to introduce your children to music and the orchestra is to bring them along to one of our concerts or events for families.

From babies to age 12, we have a variety of suitable events including Family Concerts, Early Years Workshops and Concerts for Under 5s.

Early Years Workshops

Early Years Workshop



Concerts for Under-5s

Under-5s concert



Family Concerts

Family Concert audience


We also run a series of workshops for local children’s centres and nurseries which help reach those who might not be able to make it to our home at the LSO for any reason. Please visit the Early Years Outreach page to read a bit more about our work in these settings.

Practical info

Find out more about bringing your family to the LSO on our practical FAQs page.

Other ways to take part

If you are a teacher looking for events and workshops for your pupils, please visit the Schools & Young People section.

Young musicians living around LSO St Luke's can find out about the LSO Discovery Choir in the Singing section, and the DigiTech Group in the Community section.

Early Years Outreach report

In 2012 Youth Music commissioned LSO Discovery to work with researchers from Exeter University. A report was published on the early years outreach work led by Vanessa King in local Children’s Centres and Nurseries. The report was accompanied by short video clips which highlight the different ways in which Vanessa works to draw out the best from the children and carers, both individually and as a group.

Click here to read the report and watch the short videos.


“All music starts with singing”

Experience great choral music in the concert hall and by taking part.

LSO Sing aims to reach as much of the London community as possible, not only through encouraging people to experience great choral music in the concert hall, but also by providing a range of opportunities for people to take part and get singing themselves.

From presenting stunning concerts at the Barbican with the London Symphony Chorus, to inspiring our local community to take part in the LSO Discovery and Community Choirs, to open workshops for all, singing really is at the heart of the Orchestra’s music-making.

There are a number of ways to get involved and to be part of the growing choral hub here at the LSO:

Singing Days

Warming up at a Singing Day



Community Choir

Community Choir performance


LSO Discovery Choirs

LSo Discovery Choir at the Barbican



London Symphony Chorus

London Symphony Chorus with the LSO



The LSO and LSC Choral Development programme is generously supported by the J Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust

Discover More

Go deeper

LSO Discovery can help you learn more about the music.

Whether you are aged 1 or 100, LSO Discovery can help you learn more about music - music education isn't just for the kids!

From 45-minute Friday lunchtime concerts at LSO St Luke's to pre-concert talks and in-depth composer-focussed Discovery Days, adults can broaden their knowledge of music, start from scratch or discover something new.

Friday Lunchtime Concerts

Friday Lunchtime Concert



Open Rehearsals & Workshops

Open Rehearsal at LSO St Luke's



Discovery Days

Discovery Day interview with Henri Dutilleux


Schools, Teachers & Young People

Concerts and workshops

Concerts and workshops for young people of school age.

This year the London Symphony Orchestra will welcome 15,000 young people to amazing concerts at the Barbican and LSO St Luke’s. In addition, over 2,000 young East Londoners will get together with musicians from the LSO to showcase their incredible musical talent.

Find out how you can get involved in projects – as a young person taking part in music making projects, a school coming to see the LSO perform at the Barbican or LSO St Luke's, or as a teacher through our Continuing Professional Development Scheme for teachers at Key Stage 2.

Key Stage Concerts

School children and tuba




Schools Technology workshop



LSO On Track

LSO On Track wind players



Enhancing quality of life and wellbeing

Public events and private bespoke workshops in informal settings.

The LSO Discovery community programme includes both public events and private bespoke workshops for all ages, which take place outside of a formal setting.

Each of these projects has a friendly community-based feel which draws in a regular crowd, whilst also reaching out to new people who might not experience the LSO inside the concert hall.

Our community projects are just as much about enhancing participants’ quality of life and wellbeing as they are about providing high quality music opportunities. We work with a wide range of people, including infants in hospitals, local teenagers, adults with learning disabilities, and adults who want to learn more about music.

Other ways to take part

If you live locally to LSO St Luke's and would like to get involved in musical activities, have a look at our Community ChoirLSO Discovery Choirsconcerts for under-5s and free Friday Lunchtime Concerts.

Please click on the links below to find out more about our community activities:

Children’s Hospitals

Hospital Workshop with Paul Milner



Digital Technology Group

Digital Technology Group session


Community Gamelan Group

Community Gamelan Group performance



LSO Create

LSO Create workshop participants


The Next Generation

Opportunities for young composers, performers and conductors

Opportunities for young composers, performers and conductors.

The LSO offers opportunities to the next generation of young talented musicians - performers, composers and conductors - through masterclasses, workshops, intensive coaching and opportunities to play alongside the Orchestra at the Barbican.

Opportunities for performers

Guildhall Students at BMW LSO Open Air Classics, Trafalgar Square

String Experience
Orchestral Artistry at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama
LSO Academy


Opportunities for composers

Panufnik Composers Workshop

Panufnik Composers Scheme
LSO Soundhub
> Khadambi's House: Composer in Residence


Opportunities for conductors

Elim Chan, winner of the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition 2014

Donatella Flick LSO Conducting Competition


Opportunities for students and teachers based in East London are provided through LSO On Track. Please click here to read more about this programme.