THE Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) has launched what is believed to be the UK’s most comprehensive orchestra-led music access programme for schools.
RSNO Engage for Schools is the first of its kind in the UK, allowing primary and secondary schools to pick and choose the level of music education provision they require from over 30 options.
The RSNO is also launching a national composition competition, in partnership with the National Trust for Scotland, for 12 to 18 year olds.
Notes From Scotland invites young composers to write a two-minute work for an instrumental trio, quartet or quintet.
The theme for the first year’s Notes From Scotland is inspired by five National Trust locations around the country.
BAFTA, Grammy and Ivor Novello award-winning Scottish composer Craig Armstrong OBE, who composed soundtracks for films such as Moulin Rouge, Romeo + Juliet, Love Actually and The Great Gatsby, welcomed the move.
"This is a fantastic idea to engage young people in composition and to bring them together with existing composers and musicians to pass on their knowledge and skills," he said.
"I’m sure it will be an invaluable experience for all concerned."
RSNO Engage for Schools comprises four distinct sections:
• RSNO Play — performance-based workshops
• RSNO Create — composition workshops
• RSNO Listen — exploring musical concepts and appreciation
• RSNO Watch — educational performances.
Among the many available activities and workshops are conducting lessons, improvisation for beginners, samba workshops, instrumental coaching, digital composition sessions, an Instrument Petting Zoo (where children can play with orchestral instruments for the first time), and, from January 2015, a cross-Atlantic collaboration with US orchestras examining the music of American composers.
Last June the RSNO published the first ever careers booklet created by an orchestra, providing information on available courses and further education opportunities.
Now the Orchestra will be providing work experience opportunities to 50 young people each year, with a view to planning, producing and performing their own concert at the end of the placement.
It is intended that, in its first year, over 50,000 young people in Scotland will benefit from some form of RSNO Engage activity.
RSNO Director of Learning and Engagement Jenn Minchin said RSNO Engage would be available to every school across the country.
"Those who choose to engage with Scotland’s national orchestra can do so at the level of their choice," she continued.
"It promises to be the most ambitious learning and engagement drive of any performing arts organisation in the UK, and we are very much looking forward to sharing our love of music with many new enthusiasts."