Background to the project
The Scottish Chamber Orchestra is one of Scotland’s National Performing Arts Companies. The orchestra performs regularly in Scotland and overseas. In addition to this performing role, the SCO have an education programme. SCO Connect works to provide opportunities for schools, families, communities, and young people to engage with music. The SCO VIBE project is delivered by SCO Connect.
SCO VIBE is a new music opportunity which has been developed by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in partnership with Edinburgh City Council. VIBE offers the opportunity for young people with some musical ability to come together in the holidays and work with professional musicians and tutors to write and perform music.
Vibe fusion band is aimed at young people who would not traditionally engage with the work of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra or the ensembles currently being offered by the Edinburgh City Council.
Recruitment for VIBE was focused on areas of multiple deprivation. SCO worked with schools, music teachers, and the City Council’s community education department to ensure that the programme targeted young people who may not otherwise have taken part in this type of activity. To increase the pool of young people coming forward, workshops were organised in schools in some of the more deprived areas to encourage participation of the target groups.
Purpose of the project
The project was designed to offer music development opportunities for young people, particularly young people who may not otherwise take part in this type of music activity (orchestral music). VIBE was also designed to be open to a broader spectrum of young musicians than other music programmes. The band includes non-orchestral instruments (guitars, voice, drums), and teaches music aurally, so there is no requirement for young people to be able to read music. This opens up participation to more ability ranges and types of instrument. Young people not only learn to play in ensembles, but also compose the music that they play
The project also provides opportunities for some of the more advanced participants to develop their skills in composition through an additional weekend workshop. These young people then support the younger members in composition.
The programme also offers volunteering opportunities for music students from Napier University and Edinburgh College. Students who take part as volunteers support the instrument groups within workshop sessions, and gain skills and experience in delivering music support at this level. The volunteers also benefit from working alongside professional musicians from Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Edinburgh city Council Music Service, learning new skills in teaching but also broadening their knowledge about possible career paths in the industry.
Three VIBE projects have taken place to date. Two were delivered in week-long programmes during school holiday periods – in April and July 2013. A third project took place over two consecutive weekends in October 2013. A future programme is being planned for early 2014.
While some participants are new to each event, others have attended each project.
Outcomes for young people
Young people participating in the summer programme reported having learned new techniques in playing by ear, improvising, and composing music with others.
“playing by ear – I was already trying to do that, but this has really forced me to practice. I’m so much better now”
“being able to listen to what’s happening, and adapt what you’re doing.”
Young participants in the SCO VIBE reported significant increases in their confidence in playing music. The setting, of composing and playing with other young people and adults in a mixed ability ensemble had given some the confidence to play more freely:
“I used to be really nervous of doing my own fills (drummer) – this is the first time I’ve really got into it and just gone ahead and done them”
There had also been an impact on young people’s more general musical ability:
“last time I came, I couldn’t do a flutter tongue. After the week, I could. You learn here just from being around other players, you learn from the air.”
“It’s really helping me with Higher music – lots of the terms I’ve been trying to learn, you just pick them up here, everyone is using them”.
Finally, although many of the participants are involved in learning music outside the band (for example a number are studying music at school at Higher and Advanced Higher level) they felt that being involved in SCO VIBE had been valuable experience of a kind which wasn’t offered elsewhere. It had added to their enjoyment and their understanding of music.
“It does feel professional here. This is how people come up with music when they’re in a real band.”
“It’s allowed me to play a lot more music”
“I want to play a lot more. Maybe join more ensembles or bands – it’s reminded me that music is fun and not just what we do for Higher.”
“This is a lot free-er than what we do for the Higher / advanced Higher”
Outcomes for young professionals
SCO VIBE also offers volunteering places for music students and graduates. The placements offer an opportunity for young and emerging professionals to work in a community education setting and experience a different way of teaching and supporting young musicians. The SCO also hope that there might be professional benefits for young musicians in making connections with other music professionals already working in their fields of interest.
Volunteers were motivated to get involved with SCO Vibe as it offered a unique learning opportunity:
“There aren’t any other ensembles of this size, with the variety of instruments and mixed age groups and abilities. I wanted to learn more about how it could work”
Volunteers reported that they had learned more about how to teach music in a different way and had also gained confidence in their own ability to teach and to support young musicians:
“This is a unique opportunity to learn. There aren’t any big ensembles like this anywhere else “
“Working here, helping to keep the group together and working in the right direction – it’s a great feeling to see it working well”
“I’ve really picked up a lot of teaching ideas from this. Different ways to do warm-up exercises, more ways to integrate improvisation into teaching…. This will make me a better teacher.”
“Seeing the growth in the group since Easter – young people moving forward, becoming more confident about taking part in compositions and playing more forcefully – it’s fantastic”
“Even though I’m one of the youngest workers here, the other adults listen to me and treat me as a professional – that’s been a boost for me.”
The additional benefit for volunteers was that they had made contacts and connections with other musicians and professionals which had built their professional networks.
“I’ve made connections here with people who work at the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and people who work in music tuition at Edinburgh city council. It’s been good to develop professional relationships with other musicians.”
“I’ve been chatting to other instrument teachers and finding out about other projects which might offer opportunities for me in Edinburgh – it’s been really useful”
“I’ve made connections here which might help me find work – spoken to people involved in other music projects I could volunteer in, met people who are involved in teaching instruments.”
Cashback investment: £30,000