National Orchestra For All

Feb 6, 2019

“The National Orchestra for All is the only national non-auditioned orchestra I know of, anywhere in the world – we all have much to learn from this distinctive accomplishment.” – Eric Booth, author and Sistema Global Advisor

What is the National Orchestra for All?

The NOFA is a unique, mixed ability orchestra made up of 100 musicians aged 11-18 from across all four countries of the UK. Young musicians are nominated by their music teachers for their dedication and commitment to music in the face of challenging circumstances. Regardless of their background, Orchestras For All set high artistic standards for the orchestra and programme a season of innovative and exciting repertoire in partnership with leading artistic organisations from a range of genres, including the BBC Philharmonic, Royal Academy of Music, National Youth Jazz Collective and One Dance UK.

Why does NOFA exist?

NOFA provides a platform to young people who would not normally get the opportunity to participate in music-making together and helps to ensure young people are better equipped with the skills they need to achieve their aspirations.

The importance of access to musical experiences and a high quality musical education is widely accepted. Research indicates the importance of music-making as it:

·       Transcends educational ability, socio-economic status and disability

·       Gives young people a unique way to express themselves

·       Can provide a safe space for young people to escape from challenging home or school lives

·       Brings multiple benefits: confidence and self-esteem, self-efficacy and cultural awareness

Playing in an ensemble provides additional proven benefits, including providing access to a broad and diverse social network and improving teamwork and communication skills.

Yet music education and high quality musical experiences are inconsistently resourced across the UK, and young musicians with complex lives are often the first to miss out. Opportunities for orchestral music-making too often go towards those who are already privileged in some way. A 2014 Youth Ensembles report conducted by the Association of British Orchestras highlighted that 92% of British Youth Orchestras set a minimum entry standard and 80% charge an annual membership fee.

This is deeply unfair. It means disadvantaged young people repeatedly miss out on the unique opportunity of ensemble music-making and cannot realise all the non-musical benefits that playing in an ensemble can develop.

Who is eligible for membership?

Nominated musicians must fulfil Criteria 1 and Criteria 2 and at least one statement from Criteria 3 for NOFA membership as detailed below.

  • Criteria 1: Commitment to music and music-making in and/or out of school
  • Criteria 2: Sufficient emotional maturity to benefit from and contribute to a residential course
  • Criteria 3 – nominees must fulfil at least one of the following statements:

    • Recipient of Free School Meals (FSM)
    • Emotional, Social or Behavioural Difficulty (ESBD)
    • Mild Learning Difficulty (MLD)
    • Physical Disability
    • Physical Health Condition
    • Mental Health Condition
    • Young Carer
    • In Care / Looked After
    • Refugee / Asylum Seeker
    • No Fixed Abode
    • English as an Additional Language (EAL)
    • Resident of Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI) area
    • Resident of a Low Participation Neighbourhood
    • Student at Teach First Partner School / Attainment Challenge School
    • Late Start on an Instrument (began playing in year 7 or later)
    • Limited Accessible Local Music-Making

NB: This list of criteria is not exhaustive: should the young person you wish to nominate face another challenge that acts as a barrier to accessing music-making opportunities, contact Orchestras For All!

Membership in NOFA is free of charge for the young person.

To find out more, and to nominate a young person for membership, visit the Orchestras For All website here. Nominations will close on Friday 15 March 2019.