The sound of success – Music and Drama Award for East Ayrshire

The awards, which are run by Drama and Theatre and Music Teacher publications, recognised the Whole Class String project, which was established 12 years ago as part of the Youth Music Initiative primary music provision. The project began at Greenmill Primary and has since expanded to include all of the primary schools in the Doon Academy and Barony Campus education groups.

Designed for pupils from P4 to P7, 19 schools and over 1,400 pupils receive free 45-minute weekly lessons from Youth Music Initiative (YMI) music instructors where young people and their teachers learn as a whole class string orchestra. Working together as a string orchestra helps our young people to learn important transferable skills like teamwork, confidence, perseverance and raised self-esteem.

The Council also entered into a partnership with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland four years ago, that allows young people to receive additional lessons at Dumfries House, a project fully supported and funded by The Prince’s Foundation.

Councillor Fiona Campbell, Cabinet Member for Skills and Learning said: “I am absolutely delighted for our Youth Music Initiative team and our schools that they have been recognised with this prestigious award. The Whole Class String project has grown over the past 12 years and now provides all of our young people within this area the opportunity to learn to play an instrument. The project is a beacon of excellence and shows what can be achieved within rural communities. The judges were impressed by the project’s long term-impact and sustainability, the inclusive group learning and clear pathways to progression through routes in secondary schools and our partnership with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. I could not agree with them more.  

“During the pandemic the power of music has been so clear to see. We have seen videos of musicians in Italy playing instruments on their balconies, bringing calmness and joy to those around them and in Scotland when we clapped for our key workers people played the pipes to inspire those around them to sing and feel a sense of togetherness at such a difficult time. Music has the power to unite and bind us together, something that should never be forgotten.”