Media Release: Nationwide music programme for schools launched with national composition competition for 12-18 year-olds

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FROM May, 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 believed to be 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 30 options.

Headlining the new initiative, the RSNO launches 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 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 composer Craig Armstrong OBE – famed for his soundtracks to blockbusters such as Moulin Rouge!, Love Actually and The Great Gatsby – welcomed the move.

He said: “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 comprises four distinct sections; RSNO PLAY – performance-based workshops, RSNO CREATE – composition workshops, RSNO LISTEN – exploring musical concepts and appreciation, and 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 as well as case studies and insights into the workings of a modern professional symphony orchestra.

The booklet is available from

Now, the orchestra will be providing work experience opportunities to 50 young people each year, where pupils will assume control of Scotland’s national orchestra over a two-day period, with a view to planning, producing and performing their own concert at the end of the placement.

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 three to 18 years.

It is intended that, in its first year, over 50,000 young people in Scotland will benefit from engaging with some form of RSNO Engage activity.

The RSNO Engage for Schools is part of the RSNO Engage initiative, announced last year, which has led to a five-fold increase in the number of people enjoying music with Scotland’s national orchestra outside of its season performances.

A notable success story is the RSNO’s Young Ambassadors scheme, which invites young people aged 16 to 18 to help promote the live orchestral experience in their area. There is now at least one RSNO Young Ambassador for every local authority in Scotland, and the attendance of audience members under 26 years old has risen to 15 per cent across Scotland and nearly 20 per cent in Glasgow as a result.

RSNO director of Learning and Engagement, Jenn Minchin, said: “We’re very excited to be unveiling our new programme, RSNO Engage for Schools.

“Its development is geared towards providing the most valuable experience in terms of musical enjoyment and understanding, and provides a seamless integration with schools curriculum requirements at all levels.

“What’s more, it is available to every school across the country, and those who choose to engage with Scotland’s national orchestra can do so at the level of their choice. 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.”

For more information on RSNO Engage for Schools, contact the RSNO Engage Team on 0141 225 3574, email:, or visit

PRESS RELEASE issued by the Royal Scottish National Orchesta. You too can post your story ideas for journalists (aka press or media releases), on Email for more information.

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Contact: Daniel Pollitt
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