Young Ambassadors Survey: Natalie Brayshaw

One of the Highlands' Young Ambassadors, Natalie Brayshaw, describes the results of a survey she created for pupils at her school analysing their opinions on classical music.
I’ve recently been given back the completed surveys which were given out to a group of first year pupils, and the results are certainly very interesting!
Firstly, It was shocking to discover that over half of the pupils had never been to a classical music concert or been involved in a workshop, and that only five (of the twenty-eight who completed the survey) had been in the last six months.
These findings go hand in hand with the fact that only four pupils had a definite interest in classical music. Interestingly, almost all of the people who said they had an active interest in and enjoyed it play an instrument themselves. This suggests that the opportunities are there, but it is not always easy to expose everybody to them. A few pupils even said that they weren’t entirely sure what constituted as classical music.
So could the general disinterest of the young in classical music be down to a lack of experience of it? This ties in with the question about workshops or concerts: sixteen pupils said they had never been involved in either of these, though when pupils were asked how they thought we could encourage more young people to be involved in classical music, workshops were the most common suggestion.
Other suggestions included using music from films – which we have already discussed – and having older members of the school perform, for example at assemblies, to inspire the younger pupils. A few also suggested that teachers play classical music in class, though this would be a little impractical.
We’re fairly restricted as to what we can actually do within classes - the teachers obviously have to stick to the curriculum - but what can we do in ensuring that there are more ways to introduce young people to classical music? It would be highly difficult and impractical to bring the RSNO directly to each individual school and areas but are there other ways in which we can run workshops?
There are ongoing discussions within the RSNO Young Ambassadors on this topic, with ideas such as working with local musical groups external to the school, and starting informal groups in which pupils with no prior experience in classical music can learn and broaden their minds as to what it actually is – an idea already being put into action by one of the Ambassadors. The suggestion from one of the pupils about using the senior students in the school to help change the image of music as something 'boring' or 'uncool' is also a very good one, which I hope to be able to work on. I also hope to be able to use the fact that the RSNO’s current Engage project is based in the Highlands - the area in which I live - to encourage the involvement of more young people in the orchestra.
Natalie Brayshaw
Natalie is part of the RSNO's Young Ambassador scheme, arranged by the Learning and Engagement Department. All views expressed by Young Ambassadors belong to those of the individual and are not representative of the organisation. For more information, visit the RSNO website.
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