Merry Christmas, Big Noise Torry!

2020 has been a challenging year for the children and families of Big Noise Torry. Though Covid-19 restrictions have prevented the programme from hosting its usual Christmas concert, Big Noise Torry is still determined to celebrate the hard work and skills of all the participants in the community-based orchestral programme.

The fun started yesterday on Monday 14 December, with Covid-safe Christmas parties at the Big Noise Torry after-school club taking place through the week, plus a fantastic Facebook Live event happening on Thursday 17 December. All children in the after-school club will receive a gift bag including a sleigh bell making kit, crafting activities and a cosy Big Noise hoody. The Big Noise Torry team are also working on a Christmas-themed DVD for local care homes, including performances from children and Big Noise musicians.

Big Noise supports children and young people to reach their full potential through music and nurturing relationships. It works to sustain and improve wellbeing, resilience and learning through long-term, immersive support in communities of greatest need. Through 2020, Big Noise Torry has regularly adapted to changing circumstances and guidance, always committed to supporting children, young people and families through these extremely challenging times. Since early April 2020, the programme has delivered over 1,700 online lessons, while face-to-face teaching – delivered in accordance with current Covid-19 restrictions and in partnership with local primary and secondary schools – has been gradually phased back in since September. Big Noise Torry has also continued regular online Baby Noise and Adult Orchestra sessions.

The feedback from local families has been extremely encouraging, highlighting how the lessons have helped children, young people and families to stay positive and focused during the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions.

A wide range of partners and funders support Big Noise Torry, including Aberdeen City Council, players of People’s Postcode Lottery and the Scottish Government. Aberdeen City Council announced a further six year funding commitment to Big Noise Torry at the start of 2020.

Councillor Jenny Laing, Co-Leader of Aberdeen City Council said: “Big Noise Torry celebrated its 5th birthday in July [2020] and while it has been a difficult year due to the pandemic, the children were able to continue to develop their musical skills thanks to online lessons and activities organised by staff. 

“Evidence from Sistema Scotland’s work highlights how the involvement in music-making is hugely beneficial educationally and socially and is also great for participants’ wellbeing, which is particularly important during these difficult times.

“It’s a real shame the Big Noise Torry Christmas concert can’t take place however the week-long activities sound like a lot of fun and the Christmas-themed DVD for local care homes is a great idea and highlights the wonderful community spirit in Torry.”

Councillor Douglas Lumsden, Co-Leader of Aberdeen City Council said: “It's been a very challenging year for everyone at Big Noise Torry and I’m pleased that the children and young people of Big Noise Torry will have the opportunity to enjoy a Christmas party and online activities. 

“The commitment of staff, children and parents of Big Noise Torry is what makes this initiative so impressive and beneficial to all involved and to Torry.”

Nicola Killean, CEO of Sistema Scotland, said: “Our children and young people have worked so hard to improve their instrumental skills and develop their musical abilities through this very difficult year. I want to thank all of them and the Big Noise Torry team for their effort and enthusiasm through 2020. I also want to thank all the schools and teachers that we work with, our partners, funders and the community of Torry.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a major impact on this community and it’s highlighted the huge challenges that so many people face on a daily basis. Independent evaluation by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health shows that taking part in Big Noise helps children and young people to increase their creativity, determination and self-belief. The children and young people of Torry need and deserve the opportunity to develop those skills, now more than ever.”

Since early April 2020, Sistema Scotland’s four Big Noise centres have delivered almost 6,000 live online lessons and created over 600 teaching videos.