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Evaluation of Sistema Scotland

Calendar icon Children and Young People, Communities

Folder icon Jan 2013 - Ongoing

Based on the Venezuelan El Sistema model, Sistema Scotland aims to use music to foster wellbeing, confidence, self-esteem, pride and aspiration among the children and young people taking part. Through its Big Noise programme, Sistema Scotland believes that children from disadvantaged backgrounds can gain significant social and wellbeing benefits and acquire a range of life skills by being part of an intensive and immersive symphony orchestra programme. 

There are four Big Noise centres in Scotland delivering a long-term orchestral programme for pre-school and school-age children and young people; currently totalling approximately 2,500 participants. 

objectives icon Project objectives

We have been leading the evaluation of Sistema Scotland’s Big Noise programme since 2013. The aims of the project are:

  • to make clear key features of Big Noise delivery 
  • to describe the impacts of the programme

involved icon What is involved

In the short-term the evaluation uses primarily qualitative methodologies to understand the delivery of Big Noise and the nature of its impacts. In the longer term we will examine quantitative life-course outcomes of participants in comparison with an appropriate control group. This will include analysis of education, health, social care, welfare system and justice system records in the decades to come.

Big Noise orchestra playing in a venue with public in the foreground.

findings icon Findings & outcomes

The Big Noise programme has positively impacted the children and young people taking part by: 

  • increasing confidence, discipline, pride, and aspiration 
  • improving team-working, communication, and leadership 
  • enhancing academic skills including listening, concentration, and creativity 
  • increasing resilience, happiness, sense of belonging and fulfilment 
  • developing strong musical skills  
  • an uptake of physical activity and healthy eating, avoidance of damaging behaviours
  • the development of positive social groups, peer relationships and cultural engagement 
  • providing respite and protection for vulnerable participants 
  • changing lives – the strong impacts Big Noise has on participants is based largely upon a long-term, encouraging, trusting and supportive relationship between musician and participant. Musicians act as educators, mentors and role models supporting positive behaviours and life choices. An important factor in this is Sistema Scotland’s recruitment practice which emphasises musicians being caring, compassionate, energetic and patient alongside having strong social values. 
  • addressing health inequalities – evidence is clear that the types of impacts Big Noise achieves at present act upon important determinants of health and wellbeing in adulthood. Big Noise is targeted at disadvantaged communities, and therefore has the potential to reduce health inequalities in later life. 

Evaluating Sistema Scotland: Film by the young people from Big Noise Raploch

Output icon Project outputs

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