RSNO Work Experience: Chris Wesley, Dunblane High School, Dunblane, Stirlingshire

For the past three days I’ve been at the Royal Scottish National Orchestra gaining valuable insight into the management of an orchestra. The main focus of my short time here has been to create graphics and posts using the social networking site Tumblr for next year’s Springfest, a festival of music in Dundee. I’ve hugely improved my skills in programs such as Photoshop and created promotional graphics and information to inform the public of concerts during the festival.

I also sat in on an improvisation workshop from musicians of the RSNO. It was incredibly interesting to listen to such unique styles of playing and how each instrument blends together to create beautiful sounding harmonies and rhythms all whilst even the musicians are out of their comfort zone as improvisation is rarely used in their repertoire.

On my last day, I listened to a rehearsal for the St Andrew’s Party concert with Scottish duo Phil & Aly. This was great to listen to as traditional Scottish music wasn’t a style I was very familiar with. It also included students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and a drummer, which was quite unique.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at the RSNO and everyone I’ve met has been very friendly and welcoming. I know if I decide to try a career in music or in orchestra management there are great opportunities available such as apprenticeships here at the RSNO.

RSNO Work Experience: Eilidh Allison, Alva Academy, Alva, Clackmannanshire

RSNO Work Experience, November 2014
by Eilidh Allison, Alva Academy, Alva, Clackmannanshire

Day 1
On Monday, I helped Christine – the RSNO's Chorus Manager – print sheet music and fold them into booklets. It was good to see what is needed to be done to prepare for rehearsals. It has made me appreciate the time and effort teachers put in to preparing our lessons. I also got the chance to listen to the RSNO Junior Chorus.

Day 2
On Tuesday, I created a survey using survey monkey, an online evaluation tool. I then watched the orchestra rehearse. I really enjoyed watching the orchestra as I had never seen a professional orchestra perform live before.

Day 3
On Wednesday, I was given the opportunity to watch Nicola Benedetti rehearsing with the orchestra. Watching Nicola perform was amazing and made me want to go home and practice for hours!

Day 4
For the final day, I helped prepare for the concert in Dundee. I am very much looking forward to the concert tonight to hear the orchestra perform.

Overall I have really enjoyed my work experience at the RSNO and been given many amazing opportunities. I hope to attend a number of RSNO concerts in the future.

Eilidh was part of the RSNO's Work Experience scheme, arranged by the Learning and Engagement Department. All views expressed by Work Experience participants belong to those of the individual and are not representative of the organisation. For more information, visit the RSNO website.

RSNO Work Experience: Chloe Hooper

RSNO Work Experience
Chloe Hooper, St Ninian's High School, Giffnock                 

Day 1

My first day at work experience was fairly normal. Meaning I spent 15 minutes trying to find the place; panicked when we found out we travelling in a circle and stressed out when we actually managed to find the building! I’m just thankful that I managed to arrive on time. Looking back, the first five minutes seem like a blur: the tour, the introductions and the trailing up and down the steps leading to different floors. There were a number of steps that lead to even more rooms, looking at the building from the outside you wouldn’t believe how big the space actually is. I drove straight into the work that was given to me by putting away instruments and doing inventory. It was one job after the next and I liked it that way. Everything came easier to me that way and I was comfortable getting on with my work.  I know however that the first day would have been the hardest. It’s easy to feel out of place. There are people who have worked here for years with experience that I can learn a lot from. Going from a fourth-year pupil, sitting in maths jotting down notes, feeling like you're just going through the day, to an office job is strange.  What made it easier was the kind people I worked with.

What I thought I knew I now know; I got a great placement which will teach me a lot about myself and will help me when the time comes that I need to make choices for my career. On the first day, I managed to work efficiently in a professional work environment while overcoming any challenge I was faced with. Which, in this case, is easier done than said since the hardest part of my day was figuring out how to update an iPad (since I’m just terrible with technological stuff the update ended up failing). Overall I can honestly say my first day was a good one.

Day 2

Today I attended a staff meeting which gave me a better insight to the company. I learned about their perspectives and the direction they're steering the company towards. It was interesting to see the department managers giving updates on their teams. I enjoyed hearing about their programs for young people and their workshops for schools. It was fascinating to hear about the upcoming events from a behind the scenes point of view, and learn about the preparation that goes into each event. What interested me the most was hearing about the green team. The green team is successfully reducing the impact the office has on the environment by reducing waste and encouraging staff to make use of public transport or park and ride schemes. It was refreshing to see the results.

Today was also the day I gave updating the iPads another go. Sadly it failed again but today has given me the experience of what office work mainly consists of. Whether it's scanning documents or watching updates, I have to consider if this job is suited to who I am, which is good thing considering this is what work experience is about - taking a look into where you want to take your life.

Day 3 

Today, Louise (RSNO Learning Manager) gave me the opportunity to sit and listen to the orchestra itself. They were practicing different pieces for their upcoming concert. During their rehearsal, I knew I had to be quiet and tried not to draw any attention to myself. Attempting that I hid, sitting myself in front of the seats to listen. I couldn’t explain what it was like to hear but if you haven’t heard them I recommend that you come to listen. It's not to be missed!

The most challenging thing I did today, or maybe even this week, was moving instruments around the building to prepare for workshops. Since I have no upper body strength it was a challenge even lifting three xylophones in the first place (!) but I did choose it rather than taking two trips. I think this was my favourite day out of the week. Three days into my placement and I have gotten to know the place. I know where my desk is, I know the login for my computer, I know the area and if I thought coming here was difficult then sinking back into my original routine for school will be harder.

Day 4

Day four - a Thursday - was uneventful at work, but I suppose that is most days when you have a desk job since you’re at a computer all day. To be more specific, I was asked to update the iPads software from a 7.0.04 to an 8.0.1.  I couldn’t say it was fun at all, but it didn’t bother me. I got stuck straight into it and time flew by fast.  Today felt shorter than any other day this week and that’s probably why I’m stuck for words writing about today. This week is almost done!

Day 5

These past few days have flown in when I expected them last longer. I have a better picture in my head of what I want to do with my life and what I definitely don’t want to do. Which is a great benefit towards making decisions for my future and yet I don’t feel different at all. Are you supposed to feel more mature? Capable? Confident?  I’m not quite sure. I’m grateful for this week. I’m grateful to the RSNO and everyone I worked with in the Learning and Engagement department, and grateful for my teachers helping me find this placement.

I learned valuable lessons and enjoyed working.

Looking forward, I’m excited to leave school one day and make something of my life.

RSNO Work Experience: Alistair Hewitt

During my work experience week at the RSNO, I had a great time working for my department and helping out wherever I could. Throughout the week I had many jobs to complete of various different types.

I made an online record for the adult chorus members, I cleaned the trumpets and trombones and moved instruments and packed them in the car for the petting zoo. My favourite part of the week was on Friday, when I had to upload software to the iPads. I love working with technology and computers, so this was quite enjoyable for me, even if it took quite a while. If I had to pick the worst part of my week, it would be the cleaning of the brass instruments. I found this repetitive and monotonous and I got tired of it quite quickly. Another thing I found repetitive was making the online records for the adult chorus, although I didn’t mind doing this, in fact the time seemed to go by very quickly when I was typing up the records.I feel I have acquired new qualities and skills throughout my week here. I have had to work independently a few times and this was something I was not used to. I had to use initiative if something went wrong too. I had to work by myself, and I had to organise my work on my own. This was a very different experience from being told what to do every day at school. I had to be very organised and I had to have good communication with my colleagues. These were skills that I did not have much experience using, but after a week filled with opportunities to use them, I feel I have improved a lot in these aspects and I feel much more confident.

In general, I have really enjoyed my week here at the RSNO. I had many different jobs to do so I didn’t get bored, and the week went by very quickly. I have enjoyed the experience of being in a workplace and the week has helped me grasp an idea of what I want to do after I leave school.

Alistair Hewitt – Barrhead.

Alistair was part of the RSNO's Work Experience scheme, arranged by the Learning and Engagement Department. All views expressed by Work Experience participants belong to those of the individual and are not representative of the organisation.

RSNO Work Experience: Alison Hedley, Gryffe High School

Every year, our school gives S4s [fourth-year pupils] a week of work experience to go wherever we want. I chose to go to the RSNO because I am very interested in carrying music into my career and I wanted to have a taster of what it would be like. The first day I came in, the staff were extremely welcoming and nice, they gave me a tour of the building and I met all the staff. I then settled down into a computer and started with some tasks that needed completing which involved making spreadsheets, typing up information and doing errands. This was definitely a new experience for me, working long hours and in a desk the whole day.

The second day I came in, I settled into preparing booklets for going out into schools which took up most of my morning but it paid off as I was allowed to have a large lunch break. In the afternoon, I carried on with this task then once I had finally finished I started preparing and checking flutes and clarinets that were going to be used in a workshop later that week. This is an essential job, if one instrument has a missing part then it means it can’t be used and one person is missing out on using it. The highlight of my day was looking at all the instruments, as I don’t play the clarinet or flute it was nice to get a close up look at them and see how they work.

The third day I was invited to go and watch the orchestra play as it was one of their rehearsal days. I got to watch them the whole morning and it was amazing to watch them rehearse and hear them play and hear how the conductor interprets the pieces, how it affects the orchestra’s playing. I could have watched them the whole day, but I had other jobs to complete! The afternoon was kept very busy, I cleaned the trombones which sounds really boring, but was actually a lot of fun surprisingly. I then scanned a folder full of important pages which needed to be completed very quickly, and then I worked out how to ‘bind’ music booklets together so I wasn’t in my desk the whole day! The highlight of my day was without a doubt watching the orchestra rehearse; you don’t see it every day!

The fourth day I was invited to assist a workshop in Perth which was a great opportunity. Katherine Wren, who is a member of the orchestra, was running a viola workshop in the Concert Hall in Perth. The students who came were Grade 4/5 violin players but were very interested in playing the viola as well. As a keen violin player myself, this would have been a great opportunity to go to which I would definitely have signed up for if I had the chance. It was great to watch them learn a new instrument as the viola produced a lovely sound. The Perth Concert Hall is an amazing building which I looked around for a while; when the workshop finished, Katherine then popped off to a rehearsal for a concert with the RSNO which she was playing in that evening. The highlight of my day was definitely seeing Perth which is a very pretty place and being at the Perth Concert Hall which is an amazing building and being out of the office was fun as well.

This is the last day and I am writing up this blog post and then I am going to carry on with some documents which I didn’t finish on Wednesday. The highlight of my week was definitely watching the orchestra and also going to Perth. I am really glad that I chose the RSNO to do my work experience with as it is a great place to do your work experience if you are wanting to do your career in music and hopefully this won’t be the last time I see the RSNO as I look forward to coming back here and doing lots of their courses.

Work Experience with Learning and Engagement

The RSNO are dedicated to introducing young people to music beyond the realms of the concert hall. The Learning and Engagement department welcome work experience students to learn about how music is programmed within schools and local communities, as well as extended as a facility for learning new skills and providing a creative outlet.

Earlier this month, Guy Sutherland age 14 from Shawlands Academy joined the Learning and Engagement office for a four-day work experience placement. He shared his thoughts in the diary, below. Find out more about the Learning and Engagement department, here.

Day 1: Monday 9 September

Over the past two days I have been at the RSNO for work experience. I have done many different things using many of my skills. I have been on the phone a lot, phoning registrars around the country and asking about the RSNO ASTAR CD, which was given to babies throughout Scotland in 2012. It was very enjoyable and gave me a great taste of what working within an Learning and Education department would be like. Later on, my supervisor and I went to a samba workshop at a different school which was very enjoyable. I met loads of different children doing the workshop and had a chance to learn more about the music and the way it is created.

Day 2: Tuesday 10 September

On my second day, I started out by making a survey on Survey Monkey about a workshop the members of the Orchestra had taken part in. It was successful, and has been sent round everyone in the Orchestra. Then I was given a spreadsheet that was to be checked and corrected for the holidays and in-service days around Scottish schools. After this, I was given the task of phoning different high schools in and around Inverness about a free coaching session on selected instruments at Eden Court. My first two days have been very successful!

Day 3: Wednesday 11 September

On my third day I started by listening to the Orchestra rehearse and then I rearranged all the RSNO’s concert guides since 1882 to 19-something which took quite a long time, but was satisfying when completed. After that I sorted out all the dates for the Scottish school holidays, in-service days and days they are in school which took very long also. But by the end of the third day I am very tired but I am enjoying myself at the RSNO.

Day 4: Thursday 12 September

On my fourth day, I finished phoning all the schools in Inverness to ask about free coaching sessions. It has greatly boosted my people skills and it has also increased my confidence massively. I helped the Library department by listing all the people who are going away at the weekend with the Junior Chorus. Then I stapled all of the music together which was fun. Tomorrow I go to Inverness which I am really looking forward to!