Next month, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) will provide the most comprehensive orchestra-led music access programme to primary and secondary schools across Scotland. In terms of scale and choice, RSNO Engage for Schools is the first of its kind in the UK, as education establishments can pick and choose the level of music education provision they require from over thirty options.
To kick-start the new initiative, the RSNO has launched a national composition competition, in partnership with the National Trust for Scotland, open to 12 to 18 year olds across the country. ‘Notes from Scotland’ is inspired by five National Trust locations around the country and invites young composers to write a two-minute work for an instrumental trio, quartet or quintet.
BAFTA, GRAMMY and Ivor Novello award-winning composer Craig Armstrong, famed for his soundtracks to blockbuster films including Moulin Rouge!, 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. I’m sure it will be an invaluable experience for all concerned.’
RSNO Engage for Schools will comprise four distinct sections; RSNO Play – performance-based workshops, RSNO Create – composition workshops, RSNO Listen – exploring musical concepts and appreciation, and RSNO Watch – opportunities to attend 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.
RSNO Engage for Schools is devised to be fully integrated into the goals of the national Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), offering increased music education and learning provisions through new concerts for every level of CfE from age 3 -18 years. It is intended that, in its first year, over fifty thousand young people in Scotland will benefit from engaging with some form of RSNO Engage activity.