Big Noise Torry celebrates 5th birthday

Big Noise Torry, the musical project which has transformed the lives of children in the Torry and Tullos areas of Aberdeen celebrates its milestone 5th birthday this week (July 20 – July 24).

On Monday (20th) and Tuesday (21st), the children and young people of Big Noise will be able to view performances and chat to musicians from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra during exclusive online music & Q&A sessions. These sessions will feature cellist Su-a Lee, bassoonist Alison Green, trumpeter Peter Franks and percussionist Louise Goodwin.

On Wednesday (22nd) and Thursday (23rd), for the first time ever, children and young people from across all four Big Noise centres will come together to take part Big Noise Together - large-scale, online, learning and activity sessions with Big Noise musicians.

Every afternoon this week, there will be Facebook Live sessions hosted by each of the Big Noise centres, with Big Noise Torry featuring on Wednesday. These sessions can be viewed from any of the local Big Noise Facebook pages, or the national Sistema Scotland Facebook page. 

Formally launched in June 2015, Big Noise Torry works with over 600 children from birth to Primary 7 at Tullos and Walker Road schools (with the oldest participants starting secondary school in August) and is delivered in partnership between Aberdeen City Council and the charity Sistema Scotland.

Since pausing its face-to-face delivery in mid-March 2020, in response to Covid-19 restrictions, Big Noise Torry has delivered over 1,150 live online lessons and created over 75 teaching videos for its participants, while working in close partnership with Torry’s primary schools and Aberdeen City Council.

The life-changing programme, which sees young children learn to play musical instruments from an early age, has been so successful that in January (2020) Aberdeen City Council agreed to extend the programme for another six years, through to 31 March 2026.

The programme will also see Aberdeen City Council and Sistema Scotland work together to extend the project by widening the age range of participants and develop additional strands for the benefit of the Torry community.

In addition to the continuation of all current programmes the extended project will see:

  • expansion of the after-school programme to work with all ages, from Primary 3 until Secondary 6 school ages;
  • development of the after-school programme to offer additional opportunities for young people focused on learning skills for employment including volunteering development, teaching assistant development and partnerships with local further education establishments;
  • Big Noise after-school programme will move from strings only to include woodwind, brass and percussion;
  • embedding Big Noise as a key partner in the new Torry Community Hub;
  • building on The Noise adult orchestra and volunteering to develop community committees, ownership and capacity through community engagement.

Councillor Jenny Laing, Co-Leader of Aberdeen City Council said: “From the outset we believed Big Noise Torry had the potential to deliver real benefits for one of Aberdeen’s key regeneration community areas. I am very pleased that the independent evaluation carried out on the programme to date clearly demonstrates this is the case and that is why we will continue to invest for the benefit of all in the Torry area and beyond.

“It’s unfortunate that, due to the current lockdown, the children, parents and everyone involved in Big Noise Torry can’t come together today to celebrate. However, it will make the party all the more special when they do at a future date.”

Councillor Douglas Lumsden, Co-Leader of Aberdeen City Council said: “Happy birthday to everyone involved in Big Noise Torry. Evidence from Sistema Scotland's work highlights how the involvement in music-making is hugely beneficial to participants educationally and socially, as well as improving their general wellbeing. Every time I’ve visited Big Noise Torry this has been clear to see. That is why the contract was extended for a further six years and represents a huge investment in the future of the Torry community by Aberdeen City Council.”

Benny Higgins, Chair of Sistema Scotland, said: "I am delighted that our successful partnership with Aberdeen City Council to deliver Big Noise Torry will continue for another six years. Independent evaluation of the Big Noise programme has shown that it builds resilience, improves team-working, enhances academic skills and develops self-confidence in its participants. These skills are more vital than ever in a world so altered by Covid-19. Children in Torry, and across Scotland, deserve the opportunities and support that Big Noise provides, alongside families, teachers and many others in this fantastic community. 

"The council's far-sighted commitment to our work will allow Big Noise to change a great many more lives through music and long-term, nurturing relationships." 

Big Noise Torry’s focus on one of Aberdeen’s priority communities, coupled with the programme’s proven role in increasing engagement with education, supports the City Council’s objective to narrow the attainment gap and increase the percentage of young people from disadvantaged communities reaching positive post-school destinations.

Big Noise Torry is also closely aligned with Community Planning Aberdeen’s Local Outcome Improvement Plan 2016-26 (LOIP) to create a place where all people can prosper through early intervention and prevention.

PICTURE (L-R): Benny Higgins, Chair of Sistema Scotland; Aberdeen City Council Co-Leaders Councillor Douglas Lumsden and Councillor Jenny Laing pictured with participants of the Big Noise Torry programme (February 2020).