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Making Music Online with the SCO

16 Dec 2020

News Story

We can’t believe that 2020 is almost over! We’ve been able to run various courses online for young people during the Autumn term. Read on to find out more…

SCO String and Wind Academies

in partnership with St. Mary’s Music School

SCO String and Wind Academies are free, non-auditioned opportunities for aspiring school-aged musicians. In November, participants worked with tutorial and performance videos made by SCO musicians, then met online for coaching sessions, leading to an online play-through.

This is an exceptional opportunity for committed players to work with top professionals, to be challenged and to develop as reflective musicians... That the events are free is remarkable.


The String Academy was directed by SCO Violin Gordon Bragg and focused on Shostakovich's Chamber Symphony. The Wind Academy was led by St Mary's Music School oboe teacher Fraser Kelman and featured Farkas' Early Hungarian Dances and Arnold's Three Shanties for Wind Quintet. 96% of participants said that they will use the skills learnt from the course in the future, and we can’t wait to welcome them back for another online course in March 2021. Booking information will follow in the new year.

The tutors are really motivational, the pieces were amazing, and the sectionals really helped me to understand my role in the ensemble.


VIBE Online

SCO VIBE is a creative orchestra project, bringing together young people from any musical background to work collaboratively to create, record, and perform their own music. In October, young musicians worked online with Paul Griffiths and a team of professional musicians to create brand new music. Playing music together online can be frustrating, as internet speeds cause latency, but the VIBE participants found creative ways to overcome this by making soundscapes in free time and building up original tracks by playing along to a riff. Throughout the week, participants made recordings of themselves, which sound engineer Mark Neal mixed into one track. Listen to this example to hear the end result:

Surprisingly the delay added an extra layer to the music


Participants also got involved in the technical process during ‘Mix Club’. Mark shared his screen so that the participants could learn about the programmes he uses and how to mix and manipulate sounds. Here is a remix of the track you just heard above – see if you can hear which instruments have been altered and where extra effects have been added! The courses took place close to Halloween and you may be able to hear that in this track...

Like the visuals? VIBE participants get creative in all sorts of ways, not just through their music making. When asked whether they would like to return to a VIBE course in the future, 92% said that they would attend both in person and online. Subject to Scottish Government guidance, we plan to return to live music making with VIBE courses in summer 2021. Watch this space!

My son has really, truly enjoyed every minute of it, and we have enjoyed hearing the excited updates during the breaks.


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