Nicola Benedetti looks to get more children into music

Scotland’s world-class violinist Nicola Benedetti launched a fantastic new series of free Super Strings Sessions for hundreds of young musicians across Scotland.

Nicola, along with Big Noise, are promoting the Super Strings Sessions will involve around 350 young string players and are supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.  The scheme was launched at Aberdeen Arts Centre today.

Sessions will take place during four days across September and October in Aberdeen today, Stirling on Tuesday, 4th September and Glasgow on Sunday, 7th October. The project will culminate in an exciting Festival of Strings Day at the Caird Hall, Dundee on Tuesday 9th October 2018.

The charity Sistema Scotland celebrates ten years of delivering its transformative Big Noise programme in Scotland.

Young people from all across Scotland who play violin, viola, cello and double bass were invited to join Nicola Benedetti, children and inspirational teachers from the four Big Noise centres in Raploch, (Stirling), Govanhill (Glasgow), Torry (Aberdeen) and Douglas (Dundee) to form one-off string ensembles at the sessions.

During the sessions all young people will have the opportunity to play in an ensemble led by Nicola, perform with her, and be involved in a Q&A discussion with Nicola about string playing. They will have the chance to experience working with their peers from across the country and share their experiences and opinions on making music in Scotland, and what role they can have in shaping music-making for young people in the future.

At the Festival of Strings in Dundee all young people will have the opportunity to play along in an ensemble led by Nicola Benedetti and experience a performance by her before joining together to perform one ‘Super Strings’ moment.

The Big Noise programme uses music to transform the lives of children living in disadvantaged communities. It uses the symphony orchestra and learning a musical instrument, via an immersive and intensive programme, as the tools to equip children with a wide range of social and life skills including confidence, resilience and aspiration.

Sistema Scotland and Big Noise are funded and supported by a range of partners including Aberdeen City Council, Stirling Council, Glasgow City Council, Dundee City Council, the charity Optimistic Sound, the Scottish Government as well as trusts, individuals and businesses.

Nicola Benedetti said: ‘I am delighted to be in Aberdeen to launch the first of three Super Strings Sessions with Big Noise.

‘A big thanks to Sistema Scotland for facilitating these Super Strings Sessions and to players of People’s Postcode Lottery for providing the funding to make this project possible.

‘I am extremely excited to be working with young people right across the country including children who already attend Big Noise. By attending the sessions, children and young people will not only have fun and make new friends but they will also learn to collaborate.

‘I will be working to help improve their playing technique, freedom of expression and command of their instrument so that each element combines individually, and within an ensemble, to create the fullest sound possible.

‘Being a “Big Sister” to Big Noise is dear to my heart and I’m fiercely proud of the work I’ve done with Sistema Scotland over the past 10 years including the many visits I have made to perform with the children and learn how they have progressed.

‘What Big Noise has achieved in that time in terms of both social transformation and musical excellence, their passion for teaching, commitment to the children and work on the musical curriculum, is phenomenal!

‘I believe that most of the profound thinkers of written history agreed that music and the arts are one of the most important skills you can learn and be exposed to in your youth.’

Laura Chow, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: ‘Over the last five years players of People’s Postcode Lottery have supported the powerful work of Sistema Scotland. We have seen first-hand the impact of the work and the confidence it inspires in so many young people engaging with the Big Noise programmes across Scotland.

‘Players’ support is now enabling children and young people to come together for these Super Strings Sessions to benefit from the extraordinary commitment and inspiration of Nicola Benedetti. We wish all participants a wonderful experience.’

Nicola Killean, chief executive of Sistema Scotland, said: ‘Young people coming together from each of our Big Noise centres and being able to join together with other young string players from across Scotland and make music and share experiences, is a fantastic way to celebrate our 10th birthday.

‘The objectives of the Super Strings Sessions are three fold. The first is Social. We want to nurture collaboration among the young people and help them to develop networks. Second is Artistic. Nicola Benedetti will help the children to create a Big Sound by giving them techniques to express themselves while playing and take command of their instrument. Finally, Empowerment. We are holding workshops with some of the children to help develop a shared voice for young string players in Scotland so that they can have their say on improvements for the future.

‘Nicola Benedetti is a wonderful supporter of Big Noise and she is a fantastic role model for our young people to aspire to. Big Noise children are really looking forward to working, playing and learning from their ‘Big Sister’, alongside young string players from right across Scotland who may be learning through their local music service.’

More than 2,500 children attend the Big Noise programme each week at centres in Raploch, (Stirling); Govanhill (Glasgow); Torry (Aberdeen); as well as Big Noise Douglas (Dundee).

For more information about the sessions visit