Spotlight on Alasdair

“After I have finished school I would like to be a vet but my violin will still be a big part of my life. I love playing violin because of the huge range of sounds you can get from it; it can be a percussion instrument one minute to a guitar the next.”
— Alasdair

Alasdair is 14 and lives in a very rural part of South West Scotland. When he was nominated for the National Orchestra for All by his violin teacher in 2017, Alasdair’s parents’ main concern was access. Music workshops and masterclasses can often be a two-hour drive away from the farm where Alasdair lives with his family, and Alasdair’s school is unable to provide many opportunities for him to play with other young musicians.

“My school is the local high school which doesn’t benefit from the funding I think it should get, so our music department isn’t the best. We don’t have a school orchestra.”

However, with help from NOFA, Alasdair has been able to travel around the country playing music with like-minded young people from all over the UK.

NOFA has enabled Alasdair to have new and exciting experiences, travelling away from home, and as his mum puts it, “meeting lots of new people from a wide variety of backgrounds, all coming together with the common goal of playing music.” He is now regularly in contact with his new friends from Edinburgh, Stirling and even London, who he wouldn’t have met if it weren’t for NOFA. Alasdair says, “my favourite things about NOFA are meeting new people and playing new music.  I especially enjoy playing the new music that is specially written for us.  There is such a buzz because you know you’re the first people to play the piece.”

Alasdair also acknowledges that his confidence and his musical ability have improved since getting involved with NOFA, and attributes this to the people around him during the sessions – “I think NOFA has helped me improve musically because you gain so many little pointers from the teachers and everyone else around you. My confidence has grown a lot from being at NOFA”.

“All our concerns about the practical logistics of travel and Alasdair being away from home have been overcome over the past two years by the careful organisation, timely, clear and detailed communication, and the care and dedication of the wonderful NOFA office team, chaperones, pastoral staff and young leaders. We cannot overstate how fantastic they are and what a brilliant job they do.”
— Alasdair's parents

Alasdair’s parents have also noticed his confidence in his own musical ability and that he is more willing to try new things since joining NOFA – “Alasdair’s music reading abilities, and in particular sight reading, both notes and rhythm, has really improved.  He’s also more up for the challenge of a new piece of music, whereas before he was a bit afraid to try as he thought he wouldn’t be able to do it.  We also feel he has a better sense that it can be ‘cool’ to play a musical instrument, and that being part of a big group of people all making music is fun!” This is testament to the encouraging and positive atmosphere NOFA prides itself upon, and which is something that Alasdair is now part of. This is clear in his advice to any new young people joining NOFA for the first time this year: “Just relax – if you make a mistake while playing, nobody is going to be annoyed – trust me, I make lots of them!”