Makeabignoise & Sistema Scotland*

*Via: @

“Sistema Scotland is a charity on a mission to create permanent social change in some of the most deprived communities in Scotland.  We use participation in our Big Noise orchestra programmes to change lives by fostering confidence, discipline, teamwork, pride and aspiration in the children and young people taking part.  This enables the children and young people to reach their full potential, leading successful and fulfilled lives.  This philosophy has a knock on effect for their families and the wider community in general.

Our teams provide an intensive orchestral programme for school-age children and young people.  We use a variety of immersive music teaching methods delivered during school time, after school and during the school holidays.  We also provide opportunities for growth such as trips and residentials.  Regular performances help to keep the wider community as involved as possible.  There is no charge for the tuition, instruments, healthy snacks, trips and t-shirts.

Altogether there are nearly 1,800 children and young people engaging regularly with the three established Sistema Scotland centres.  In addition to the Big Noise orchestras attended by children up to 11 hours each week, we run Baby Noise and Adult Noise programmes which enable the Sistema Scotland family to reach as many as possible in the communities where we are based.


We currently have three Big Noise communities:

  • Big Noise Raploch, Stirling, was established in 2008 and currently engages with almost 500 children and young people
  • Big Noise Govanhill, Glasgow, was established in 2013 and currently engages with almost 800 children
  • Big Noise Torry, Aberdeen, was established in 2015 and currently engages with almost 500 children


Sistema Scotland aims to:

  1. Transform children’s lives
  2. Empower communities
  3. Create a sustainable charity, with permanent benefits


In 2008 we established our first Big Noise programme in Raploch, Stirling. Further Big Noise centres opened in Glasgow’s Govanhill (2013) and Aberdeen’s Torry (2015). We plan gradually to roll the programme out to more communities in the years ahead. Big Noise focuses on the existing assets and the potential of young people.

It counters persistent social problems in the targeted communities by drawing a line under the past and nurturing a new generation of children who grow up in an environment saturated with intensive and immersive music making. We work with children from birth through to adulthood. While our most obvious triumphs are musical our purpose is to use that music making to equip children with confidence, resilience, ambition, and a multitude of transferable skills to support them across all areas of their lives. The ultimate goal is to boost educational performance, health and wellbeing so that children grow to achieve their full potential, contributing to positive communities with fewer costly problems.


Baby Noise & Nursery Rhythms

Our pre-orchestra programme begins with Baby Noise where babies, toddlers, parents and carers enjoy songs and fun every week. Then in the nursery, through musical games, clapping and singing we introduce the children to ideas of rhythm and pitch, and to playing together. Big Noise is from the very beginning based on playing and learning together. The emphasis is always on the ensemble, so the children learn to cooperate and support each other. Baby Noise and nursery sessions are delivered for all children in the community once a week


Primary 1 and 2

The pre-orchestra programme continues when the children are in Primary 1 and 2. They choose which instrument they would like to play and then make their own replica instruments to form a paper orchestra – an idea we took from our twin orchestra centre “Rinconada” in Venezuela. The children learn about the different parts of the instrument, and how to hold and bow it properly. So they have a head start by the time they are handed the real thing.

At these stages the children’s involvement in Big Noise increases to two sessions a week. All of the involvement in nursery and Primary 1 and 2 is delivered during the school day and is mapped out against the Curriculum for Excellence outcomes for literacy, numeracy and health and well being.


Moving Up to Big Noise

Children become full members of Big Noise as the Summer holidays start at the end of their Primary 2 year.

They can now attend our after-school orchestra sessions and holiday clubs which run throughout the year. Depending on age and location this can mean up to four afternoons a week after school and four half days a week during holiday periods. We only close for a couple of weeks at the end of summer and over the Christmas and New Year period. All Big Noise tuition is delivered by specialist professional musicians and educators who are backed up by a brilliant group of volunteers, including parents, community-members, retired professionals and students.

Intensity and Immersion: Once in the after-school programme, a typical Big Noise child can be involved in the programme for up to 11 hours a week, 45 weeks each year. That means almost 500 hours of intervention and support a year.

“We take the Sistema name from the “El Sistema” orchestra movement established in Venezuela in 1975 by Maestro José Antonio Abreu and delivered through the organisation Fundacion Musical Simon Bolivar. We are very proud to be official partners with the original organisation in Venezuela. We seek to benefit from the South Americans’ expertise, while adapting their methods to suit conditions in Scotland·.


Sistema Scotland has been the subject of two independent research studies. The latest was published in May 2015 and undertaken by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health (GCPH) in partnership with Audit Scotland, Education Scotland and Glasgow Caledonia University.

The researchers found convincing evidence of positive change to children’s lives and concluded the programme represents a good investment for society.

The impact diagrams shown here (above) were created as pictorial representations of the key impacts that were identified at this stage. Click here to download.

The GCPH will continue to track the impact of the work long term




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