A talented young musician has secured a place at one of the world’s top-performing arts schools after honing his skills with a community music and social change programme.
Scott Hutchison, 18, joined Sistema Scotland’s Big Noise Raploch programme in Stirling when he was just seven years old and will now go on to study at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
Participating in Big Noise allowed Scott to learn clarinet and gain the confidence to perform on stage with leading orchestras including the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.
He is also among 20 Big Noise participants – all of whom are in S2-S6 – who have studied at RCS’s Junior Conservatoire of Music.
For more than 50 years, the Junior Conservatoire has encouraged thousands of young people to fulfil their artistic potential, develop essential life skills and explore a world of possibilities within the arts and far beyond.
Scott said how being accepted to study for a Bachelor of Music degree at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland ‘feels like a dream’ as it has been ‘my goal since I can remember’.
He said that being part of Big Noise also helped to build and develop his concentration, teamwork and relationship-building skills.
“It’s a strange feeling to have finally accomplished something that I’ve been working so hard for at Big Noise and the Junior Conservatoire for all these years.
“Joining Big Noise at an early age really got me interested in music, and I’m not sure I would have ever pursued music if I hadn’t joined. It really gave me the kickstart I needed – it’s really changed my life.
“Before I joined Big Noise, I could be quite a troubled kid and would refuse to apply myself in class. Big Noise helped me learn how to sit down and concentrate on things I needed to do, and that helped me all the way through school.
“I struggled with confidence through my early high school years and I was very shy – but once I started going to Big Noise more and started performing with other people, my confidence in my instrument grew and so did my confidence in life in general.
“All of the skills that I’ve learned through Big Noise, like teamwork and relationship building, have helped me massively in life.”
“Without ever attending Big Noise, there are so many opportunities I wouldn’t have had– and getting into the BMus at RCS is just one of many.
“I have been lucky enough to play with orchestras such as the RSNO and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and travel all over the world playing the clarinet.”
Scott is one of three Big Noise participants to have been offered places at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, which is regularly ranked one of the world’s top ten destinations to study the performing arts, alongside institutions including the Julliard School in New York and the Royal College of Music in London.
Young people who attend Big Noise and are interested in attending the Junior Conservatoire or undergraduate study at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland are supported by staff and musicians throughout their application and audition processes.
Tom Ion, musicianship tutor at Big Noise Raploch, said:
“We help our young people prepare for their auditions into the Junior Conservatoire programme and give them any help they might need with their application process too.
“Our young people who attend Junior Conservatoire ensembles continue to come to Big Noise for their instrumental lessons, so we can really help support them throughout the whole process.
“We’re always there to help our young people wherever we are needed, but we also encourage them to take the initiative and try to be as hands-off as possible with our older participants.”
Big Noise is a transformational social change and music education programme delivered by the charity Sistema Scotland, where the symphony orchestra becomes a community. It supports children and young people to gain vital life skills such as confidence, resilience, teamwork, pride, creativity, and aspiration and aims to strengthen community cohesion and tackle inequalities in some of Scotland’s most disadvantaged areas.
Big Noise Raploch, Sistema’s first programme, launched 15 years ago, with Big Noise Govanhill, in Glasgow, Big Noise Torry, in Aberdeen, Big Noise Douglas, in Dundee, Big Noise Wester Hailes, in Edinburgh, and Big Noise Fallin, also in Stirling, following.
Francis Cummings, head of the Junior Conservatoire of Music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said:
“It is a real thrill to have so many young people who started their musical journeys through the Big Noise programmes access the specialist teaching and musical opportunities provided by Junior Conservatoire and, in turn, enjoy success in gaining entry to our undergraduate programmes.
“We are very keen to maintain our well-established links with Sistema Scotland as we seek to provide an accessible and progressive pipeline which supports and enables young people to fulfil their musical potential.”
Maggie Cunningham, interim chief executive of Sistema Scotland, said:
“Everyone at Sistema Scotland is incredibly proud of Scott and what he has achieved, along with the many other brilliant participants who have enrolled with the RCS’s Junior Conservatoire programme or been accepted onto degree courses.
“Our work is designed to ensure children and young people reach their full potential and we have been delighted to see participants going on to lots of different positive destinations when they leave school.
“While some participants like Scott choose to pursue their musical talents, many others have found bright futures in a range of different areas in work, study or training.
“Big Noise teaches young people the vital life skills they will need as they move on to adulthood.”