Transforming Lives With Music

Trombone and Tuba

photo by Marc Marnie


Big Noise is an orchestra programme that aims to use music making to foster confidence, teamwork, pride and aspiration in the children taking part – and across their wider community. It is based on the methods of Venezuela’s “El Sistema” movement and is run by the charity Sistema Scotland.

In the 1970s in Venezuela Maestro José Antonio Abreu began running music lessons for a handful of children.  Today “El Sistema”  involves 300,000 children in centres across the South American country. It has produced some of the finest classical musicians in the world, but behind these musical achievements is an even more exciting story. El Sistema uses the symphony orchestra to benefit society. It produces not only musicians, but also happy and well-equipped citizens.

Learning any artistic skill can have knock-on benefits in terms of self-esteem, discipline and pride. But Maestro Abreu took this to a whole new level by making all of his orchestras first and foremost engines for social change. The transformation is not just of individuals but whole communities.

In the summer of 2008 the charity Sistema Scotland established its Big Noise orchestra in Raploch, Stirling. Big Noise is officially partnered with the Venezuelan programme and has the same aim – to transform lives with music.

We want the children we work with to grow up to be well-adjusted and happy adults. Through the orchestra we want them to learn they can work hard at something, succeed and feel confident as a result. We hope having succeeded at learning to play an instrument, they will succeed in other areas of their lives too. The Big Noise orchestras are about supporting children to realise their full potential.

photo by Marc Marnie

photo by Marc Marnie