Sunday, May 16, 2010

Weeks 25 & 26: Raploch, Scotland - Making Big Noise

Members of the incredible Big Noise staff in Raploch, Scotland

What an exciting time to be interning at Big Noise! This organization is gearing up for its 2nd Birthday Concert on June 6th and will be making even more noise next year when it expands its string orchestra to include brass, woodwind and percussion sections filled by older elementary students.

Since arriving here on May 10th, I have been impressed by the many ways in which Big Noise makes music accessible to all students. In partnership with FESNOJIV, Stirling Council, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Drake Music Scotland, Scottish Arts Council and three primary schools housed at the Raploch Community Center, Big Noise serves over 90 children between the ages of 6 and 10 through after-school orchestras and 100 nursery school children, 30 kindergartners and 30 children with special needs during the school day. They also began "The Noise" orchestra last summer for adults in the Raploch community. All of this occurs three days out of the week on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays where each child in the orchestra experiences full orchestra rehearsals, sectionals and individual lessons.

I have been learning so much, especially in the early childhood classes where Aimee, Helen, Jennifer and Ysla (in photo above holding a paper violin) help prepare these little ones for a successful transition into instrumental music. Jennifer has an early years certification in Colour Strings, which is a Kodaly-based method established in Finland 40 years ago that teaches musical concepts using colors and shapes. More and more schools in Scotland are adopting this system to help all students successfully transition to musical notation. Drake Music Scotland is piloting the project (called FigureNotes). I'm looking forward to learning more about this pedagogy through Jennifer's work with the strings.

Aimee plays cello to a spellbound toddler

Jennifer works with the Big Noise Orchestra, ages 6 - 10

Helen gives a private cello lesson

I would like to thank the entire Big Noise staff for being so welcoming! They have opened their classrooms and rehearsals to me, shared their practices and ideas and made me feel a part of the team. I'd also like to thank the Scottish Arts Council for funding my lodging at Auchyle Guest House, which is just a couple blocks from Big Noise and the Raploch Community Campus. Mandi and Tom, owners of this beautiful bed & breakfast, have treated me like family.

Mandi stands in front of her B&B: Auchyle Guest House

Here is a list of where the other fellows are interning:

Christine: Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA)
Dantes: Baltimore Symphony OrchKids
David: Verdugo Young Musicians Association
Jonathan: City Music Cleveland
Katie: Harmony Program
Rebecca: Renaissance Arts Academy
Stanford: YOURS Project

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