Last Updated: Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO)

What is this?

Find out how RSNO provided practical music learning at a time when schools were shut completely.

Who is this for?

For all with an interest in Scottish education. 

What we did:

#RSNOchallenge, supported by our transport partner ScotRail: we created free, fun, and educational content to homes across Scotland every Wednesday as soon as lockdown began, for 14 weeks. Families across Scotland shared videos and photos using the hashtag when posting online.

RSNO Friday Night Club: The RSNO produced 15 free online concerts available internationally. The concerts are still on YouTube and Facebook and brought culture and music into thousands of homes. The concerts have been viewed around 250,000 times.

Going Places: Due to Covid-19 restrictions the RSNO’s annual ‘Takeover’ work experience programme looked like it could not go ahead, but the organisation’s learning and engagement team quickly adapted the experience to be carried out online. Over eight weeks a group of 22 young people from all over Scotland have been working with American composer, Nathan Hall, to create music and art together. The group has used video conferencing and email to communicate and share ideas across continents and time zones. The result of the collaborative work is a composition called 'Going Places', available on YouTube.

Sunday Sounds: A series of weekend performances streaming online for free. Sunday Sounds featured a different RSNO musician performing from home each week.

Who we involved:

RSNO musicians and staff, corporate partners including ScotRail, Capital Document Solutions, several Trusts also.

The difference it made:

#RSNOChallenge provided structured, fun, music education activities for all ages and abilities, with schools across the UK advising parents and pupils to take part in the activity. It helped provide practical music learning at a time when schools were shut completely and families may have struggled to fill the gap.

Going Places had a major positive impact on participants including these two young people who said: Jacob - "This adventure has allowed me to explore new musical avenues and gain experience in new techniques. I have expanded my knowledge during the lockdown, which I am hoping to share with my peers on return to school." Emily - "The creative experience of the Going Places project has allowed me to meet new people from all over Scotland and create music with them, as well as working with an international composer! It has given me a different challenge during lockdown and I have had the opportunity to try things I have never done before."

Our Friday Night Club Concerts and Sunday Sounds series were met with great reception from audiences, and provided a safe and fun social activity for those struggling with loneliness and isolation. The comments section of our concert on Facebook became like a small community. When we announced a return to online concerts with our Digital Season, the feedback was just as positive: "Wonderful to see you back playing again!" "I could gree.t" "This gives us all hope!"

What we will do differently in the future:

The Takeover project moving online has already evolved into 'Young Creatives,' From the end of October over the course of eight weeks a group of 20 young musicians aged 14-18 will work with a professional performer and director, along with the Orchestra’s musicians, to produce a radio-show-style music podcast. Due to ongoing safe working conditions the Young Creatives project will take place online via video conferencing to ensure the safety of all participants and staff involved. Young Creatives will give young musicians a chance to experience new arts opportunities including composition, writing, interviewing, and recording. The sessions will run for eight weeks and will culminate with the launch of the original broadcast.

Our experience in lockdown has been a catalyst for us to produce accessible, cultural digital content. Our new Digital Season of ten concerts has a concession price of £3 per show so as many people can enjoy the new concerts as possible, whilst still supporting the Orchestra. We also have plans to keep producing free music and cultural content to distribute online.

We are also this month launching a free concert for nursery and young primary school children, and will continue to work with schools to provide digital music learning resources.