A survey of youth ensembles carried out during 2013 has identified an active sector of young musicians aged between 5 and 25 years old, participating in a range of youth ensembles in England. Of the 123 people who answered the survey, 75 managed one or more youth ensembles. The survey report, compiled by Fiona Harvey, Education and Youth Ensembles Consultant for the Association of British Orchestras (ABO), describes a total of 1240 ensembles, including 114 youth orchestras, 85 string ensembles, 57 choirs, 44 brass bands, 21 recorder groups and 18 percussion ensembles. Most of the survey focused on youth orchestras and data was gathered about the 9176 musicians who play in them, as well as information about repertoire, funding, touring, the management of youth orchestras and the challenges they face over the next 3 to 5 years.

The survey report includes issues for further consideration ranging from funding and financial challenges, the involvement of young musicians in decision making, and promotion, to touring, repertoire, and the challenges of recruiting musicians of minority instruments: viola, double bass, oboe, bassoon and French horn.

Mark Pemberton, Director of the ABO said: “This data in this survey has given us a much needed ‘state of the nation’ snapshot of youth orchestras in England, providing us with better information about the needs of the youth ensemble sector. The ABO has an ambition to become an effective advocate and service organisation for youth orchestras across the UK, and with this information it will be better equipped to work with other organisations to help it respond to the issues outlined in the report”

Carol Main, Board member of the ABO said: "As Music Education Hubs continue to settle into their new roles and responsibilities for music education, the ABO survey is extremely timely. There is much exciting activity happening with youth ensembles, with a great diversity of music, but there are undoubtedly challenges ahead. The report will support ABO staff and Board in addressing the needs of the sector, and pave the way for extending the survey to youth ensembles in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.”

Nigel Hiscock, Head of Sutton Music Service, London Representative – Music Mark, and a member of the ABO's steering group said: "This survey provides us with useful information about the youth ensembles sector. We will share the information with our colleagues and the young musicians who play in our youth ensembles, and work with the ABO to explore the short to long-term solutions."

The survey forms the basis for the ABO's youth ensembles project, Professional Partnerships, which is being delivered by the ABO with funding from the National Foundation for Youth Music in 2013-14.

Matt Griffiths, Executive Director, National Foundation for Youth Music said: “ This survey provides valuable, up to date information regarding the many youth ensembles in England. It will help music educators signpost young musicians to further opportunities to progress their music making and I wish the next stage of the Professional Partnerships project well.”