RSNO and CHAS provide three-year children’s hospice music project

Orchestra returns to Rachel House following pioneering first residency in 2009

From November 2010, musicians from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) begin a new, three-year musical residency, sponsored by The Miller Group, for the children, young people and families who visit Rachel House, Scotland's first children's hospice, run by Children's Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS).

Rachel House in Kinross will benefit from one of the first long-term collaborations between a Scottish charity and a national performing arts organisation.

The RSNO first became involved with Rachel House in April 2009, as part of its spring residency in the Perth and Kinross district. The initial project captured the interest of Edinburgh-based Miller Group, the UK's largest privately-owned housebuilding, property development and construction business. The Miller Group has generously agreed to fund this new project to summer 2013.

RSNO musicians will interact with the children, young people, families and staff on a one-to-one basis as well as in groups and structured sessions. Listening activities and participatory games using singing, body percussion or instruments will all feature over the next 36 months. In the first year the project sees the musicians visit Rachel House for six all-day sessions, working with whole family units. Activities will be pitched at a level appropriate to age, experience and ability, and where possible, achievements will be celebrated through performance opportunities and participatory concerts.

Hospitalisation, long-term illness and living with life-shortening conditions are traumatising experiences at any age, but are particularly hard to deal with for families early in life. The RSNO's first set of visits in 2009 revealed that music and interactive, participative projects have a positive effect on the wellbeing of individuals, family groups, volunteers and staff.

Rachel House Activities Team member Carla Halkett said:

We really appreciate the experiences and memories that the RSNO are creating for the children, young people and families who visit Rachel House. Music has a huge value for us, as it includes all the family, leaving aside age and ability to bring everyone together and help create special memories.

RSNO Associate Percussion John Poultner, who participated in the first sessions at Rachel House in 2009:

Our visits to Rachel House give us a fantastic opportunity to use our skills as musicians in a completely different way. In working very closely with the children and young people we see the effect that music can have on their lives. Time spent at Rachel House is also very rewarding for the musicians – a couple of days working and having fun with the children and young people, seeing them have a great time and responding to the music is very special.

Keith Miller, Group Chief Executive, The Miller Group, added:

We have enjoyed a long and happy association with the RSNO and we are very proud to support this project, which will have such a positive impact on all the children and young people at Rachel House.