by Author Nick Thorne

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Nominations for the 2018-2019 National Orchestra for All now open!

Do you know a dedicated and committed young musician aged 11-18? We're now accepting nominations for the 2018-2019 National Orchestra for All, a unique non-auditioned, free to participate, national youth orchestra.

The National Orchestra for All (NOFA) is a unique, mixed ability orchestra made up of 100 musicians aged 11-18 from across all four countries of the UK. NOFA is the only non-auditioned national orchestra in the world. Young musicians are nominated by their music teachers for their dedication and commitment to music in the face of challenging circumstances. Regardless of their background, we set high artistic standards for the orchestra and programme a season of innovative and exciting repertoire in partnership with leading artistic organisations from a range of genres, including the BBC Philharmonic, Royal Academy of Music, National Youth Jazz Collective and One Dance UK.

What does membership involve? 

The NOFA season begins each July and lasts for nine months. The 2018-2019 season, which we’re calling Wordplay, will see the young musicians explore the relationship between music and language through a series of new commissions, arrangements created especially for NOFA and creative composition workshops leading to a brand new youth-created piece.

Across the 2018-2019 season, members must participate in three residential courses:

Summer Course 2018 – four-day residential course held at the University of Leeds from 25-28 July, culminating in a spectacular concert in Leeds on Saturday 28 July 2018

Winter Sessions 2018 – one of two regional weekends on the weekends of 17-18 November 2018 (Manchester) or 1-2 December 2018 (London)

Spring Course 2019 – two-day residential course held in Birmingham on 10-11 April 2019, with a performance on Thursday 11 April 2019

All travel, accommodation and subsistence is covered, and young people are supported at all events by our experienced team of professional musicians and pastoral staff. There will also be the opportunity to take part in other workshops, side-by-side events with professional orchestras and opportunities to attend concert performances throughout the year.

Who is eligible for membership?

NOFA is both an arts organisation and a social change organisation. Our aim is to support dedicated young musicians who face some kind of barrier to participating in music. Nominated musicians must fulfil Criteria 1 and Criteria 2 and at least one statement from Criteria 3 for NOFA membership as detailed below. It is very important to NOFA that we are able to reach young people who will benefit most from the opportunities that membership in the orchestra offers. Please bear this in mind when nominating musicians.

  • Criteria 1: Commitment to music and music-making in and/or out of school
  • Criteria 2: Sufficient emotional maturity to benefit from and contribute to a residential course, and will act as an ambassador for their school
  • Criteria 3 - nominees must fulfil at least one of the following statements:
    • Recipient of Free School Meals (FSM)
    • Emotional, Social or Behavioural Difficulty (ESBD)
    • Mild Learning Difficulty (MLD)
    • Physical Disability
    • Physical Health Condition
    • Mental Health Condition
    • Young Carer
    • In Care / Looked After
    • Refugee / Asylum Seeker
    • No Fixed Abode
    • English as an Additional Language (EAL)
    • Resident of Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI) area
    • Resident of a Low Participation Neighbourhood
    • Student at Teach First Partner School / Attainment Challenge School
    • Late Start on an Instrument (began playing in year 7 or later)
    • Limited Accessible Local Music-Making

NB: This list of criteria is not exhaustive: should the young person you wish to nominate face another challenge that acts as a barrier to accessing music-making opportunities, contact us!

We accept nominations for players of any orchestral instrument (including saxophonists). All of our music is specially arranged for players from Grade 1 to 8 standard, and students do not need to be strong readers of music to join. In general we only take a maximum of five players from each school or organisation to ensure we have a broad intake from across the UK. If you have more than five players, contact us about how you might set up an accessible ensemble in your school or community through our Modulo Programme.

Returning membersWe believe that we will have the greatest impact on a member’s life if we work with that member over a number of years. Any returning members will need to apply as normal but will usually be prioritised if they have proven their commitment over the previous season.

All the data we collect will be handled confidentially in accordance with our Data Protection Policy and will be used to make sure that NOFA is reaching the most suitable students, as well as ensuring future funding for the organisation.

How much does NOFA membership cost?

Membership in NOFA is free of charge for the young person. However, annual NOFA membership costs approximately £1500 per member, which is raised by our small staff team from a range of trusts, foundations, donors and fundraising events.

We ask each nominating organisation to make a donation for each NOFA member. Usually this is a contribution of just £250 per place, a sixth of the overall cost of membership, but it can be any affordable amount. In previous years, organisations have raised the money through raffles, coffee mornings and cake sales - and we're happy to help with creative suggestions to cover the cost. Membership will be invoiced in either May or September 2018.

However, we do not want money to act as a barrier for dedicated young musicians to join the orchestra, and appreciate that some organisations may not be able to cover this cost. Please contact us to discuss in more detail if you have concerns about the financial contribution.

How do I nominate a young musician?

  1. Discuss the financial contribution with the person who controls the budget within your organisation.  If you are unable to make any contribution, contact the NOFA team and we can discuss alternative arrangements.
  2. Meet with the nominee and explain what NOFA membership involves. It is important that the young person understands that nomination does not guarantee membership. All nominations will be considered together to ensure we are working with young people from across the UK who will benefit from the opportunity the most.
  3. Confirm with the nominee and the parents / carer the commitment required. NOFA members must attend all three events in the season.
  4. Complete the nomination form online within the deadline (2 March 2018)