Audience with eyes closed, listening to Scottish Ensemble

What does Music for Wellbeing mean to Scottish Ensemble?

Music is a powerful tool for improving wellbeing through its inherent ability to bring people together with others for shared experiences. Exploring this aspect of musical experiences Scottish Ensemble has developed a Music for Wellbeing programme, combining shared listening and skills development, creating sessions for day-to-day living that can help to reduce anxiety and enable people to better process complex emotions.

This area of our work has evolved from a multi-year partnership with Maggie’s Centres and has been informed by our research undertaken with Maggie’s and via an ongoing collaboration with the University of Stirling and Children in Scotland (supported by the Emerging Minds Network). This research has explored and evidenced how live music can help improve young people’s mental health.

The overall aims of our Music for Wellbeing work are to give individuals uplifting musical experiences, to support our beneficiaries to find practical ways of using music to improve their physical and mental wellbeing in their daily lives and to develop the skills of musicians, teachers, and group leaders, on how best to support wellbeing through music.

Our work with Maggie's Centres

Our partnership with Maggie’s started in 2017 and has been a core part of our annual planning ever since. Maggie’s is a charity that supports people whose lives have been affected by cancer, including patients, families, and medical professionals. Their ethos is to focus on creating a safe space for people to come together and be supported through the spectrum of challenges that a cancer diagnosis can lead to. Through emotional support and practical advice, Maggie’s centres provide an essential care service, free to anyone who needs it.

We started bringing our sessions to Maggie’s centres with the intent of creating a space for visitors to share an intimate musical experience, discuss their thoughts and feelings about the music, and develop and practice skills in mindfulness.

Across 2023, we will be delivering twelve sessions at Maggie’s centres across Scotland. These will be conducted by a group of four talented Scottish Ensemble musicians and will facilitate participants in exploring the transformative power of music and the impact this may have on one’s quality of life while living with a complex health diagnosis. Participants will listen to musical pieces of varying moods to tap into different emotions, discussing the journey the music has taken them on.

Mindfulness in Education

Alongside our work in Maggie’s centres we have also developed a programme of Music for Wellbeing work for Schools.

Our sessions in Schools primarily focus on two age groups: S1 students grappling with the transition from primary to secondary education, and S4-5 students coping with the pressure of their exams. Our research partnership with the University of Stirling and Children in Scotland has allowed us to develop this work effectively, prioritising how our sessions can provide beneficial outcomes to students and teachers.

In 2022 we also launched our digital Breathe for Schools project, which you can find here. This is a free resource for teachers to provide Music for Wellbeing sessions in their classrooms. The programme is made up of several recorded sessions presented by Lucy Drever, featuring our musicians performing a wide range of pieces, alongside a lesson plan and activity pack to develop pupils’ skills in mindful listening.

Breathe for Schools

Access our Breathe for Schools digital content


In 2021 we launched the first Breathe event, taking our music for wellbeing practice online, and making it accessible to everyone during the increased pressures and stresses associated with the pandemic and lockdowns.

Breathe was made up of free hour-long sessions that presented music by Philip Glass, J.S. Bach and Peter Gregson alongside mindfulness techniques and tools for finding calm, to let audiences take a moment and breathe.

We developed these sessions further in 2022 with the live debut of Breathe – a guided concert experience that toured Inverness, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee. This immersive concert built on our Breathe online sessions, combining live music, meditative listening and reflection. Led by Violist Andrew Berridge, Breathe travelled through intricate and contrasting music written for strings and asked both performers and audiences to explore how they feel in that magic moment of being in a live concert.

Interested in arranging a Music for Wellbeing session for you School, Business or Community Group?

Get in touch with Anne, our Wellbeing Programme Manager at to learn more about our Music for Wellbeing sessions.

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