On Wednesday 18th March 2020, we made the difficult decision to pause our face-to-face delivery of the Big Noise programme across our four centres in Raploch, Govanhill, Torry and Douglas. Two days later, schools across Scotland were closed and, as it turned out, would not open again until August 2020.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us during this challenging time. Keep reading to find out how we've been adapting our deilvery to ensure our participants can to continue making a Big Noise at home.
Why we needed to adapt
Big Noise is an intensive, immersive model of music education which delivers benefits far beyond instrumental skills. Increased confidence, greater resilience, improved focus and discipline; just a small number of the benefits associated with participation in Big Noise, as identified over several years of independent evaluation by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health (GCPH). In their 2019 report, People change lives: consolidating five years of evaluation learning from Sistema Scotland's Big Noise centres in Stirling, Glasgow and Aberdeen, GCPH concluded that the benefits of the programme were underpinned by the strong relationships – based on trust, understanding and mutual respect – established between our Big Noise musicians and participants. Not just educators, our musicians are also seen as mentors and role models, particularly as participants enter their teens and approach adulthood.
So when our Big Noise centres were forced to pause their traditional form of delivery due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we quickly decided that our first priority was maintaining those relationships so that we could continue to support the wellbeing of our children and young people.
Digital delivery of Big Noise
In order to be able to continue to support our communities, we established the Big Noise Virtual After-School Club; a digital version of the after-school programme that our Big Noise centres deliver to children from Primary 3 to S6. We contacted families in our four communities to find out what IT equipment they were able to access (and share with their children), whether they had Wi-Fi, and if they would consent to their children receiving online lessons from Big Noise (via video conferencing) during the lockdown. The response was overwhelmingly positive. Sistema Scotland also provided IT equipment and support directly to a small number of families, who would otherwise have been unable to participate in online lessons. The first Big Noise lessons via video call started in the second week of April 2020.
Adapting the Big Noise programme to a digital form of delivery was not straightforward and the process of doing so highlighted the challenges faced by so many families in our communities: long-term social, economic and health inequalities which pre-date Covid-19 and have been exacerbated by it. Also critical to this shift was identifying, understanding and addressing the safeguarding issues that arise when you create a direct digital link into a child's personal space. We built on our own experience of over 12 years of teaching children and young people, but and also sought advice and expertise on the areas that were new to us – particularly the use of video conferencing for teaching. This led to a major update of our Safeguarding Policy with detailed procedures for remote teaching through digital channels.
Feedback we've received
- "...say thanks to the whole team on our behalf. [My son] just finished his lesson. He is so happy"
- "[My daughter] loved her lesson. Thank you x"
- "First lesson done with Nicola and [my son] is so excited, he wanted to show me what he learned today. Thank you, this has lifted all our moods."
- "[my daughter] is really enjoying it and it's picked up her mood... thanks for making the online lessons happen".
- "A huge thank you to you guys who are keeping children happy in this extreme situation."
In addition to our individual online lessons
The live online lessons have expanded to include group lessons and a selection of more social activities, which have helped the children and young people of Big Noise to stay in touch with each other. In addition, the live lessons have been supported by the creation of over 500 pre-recorded teaching videos by the Big Noise musicians, as well as some fun musical videos on our Facebook pages.
Building on this work, the Big Noise centres are now also delivering regular Baby Noise sessions (for pre-nursery infants and their parents/carers) via video call, with pre-recorded Baby Noise videos shared through the local Big Noise Facebook pages on a weekly basis. A team of Big Noise musicians from across the four centres are also in the process of developing a range of digital resources for in-school delivery, which includes children currently in Primary 1 and 2.
As we move into Scotland's summer holiday period, the programme will evolve again – this time to provide an adapted version of traditional Big Noise summer club activities. In the changing landscape of social distancing and other Covid-19 restrictions, Sistema Scotland and our Big Noise centres will continue to focus on supporting and maintaining the wellbeing of our participants, through music education and nurturing relationships.
How you can help
Please join us and make a difference to more young lives by becoming a Big Friend of Big Noise. Find out more here!