Part of what makes NYO special is that its musicians are teenagers: their youthful spirits give our performances their distinctive quality. But this brings with it the acute responsibility of ensuring that they all feel supported and safe.
Joining any big organisation can be daunting, but NYO is a friendly place, where NYO musicians look out for each other. Each year, roughly half will have played in the orchestra before, and we invite them to arrive at the first residency earlier, to help welcome newcomers as part of a Buddy Scheme. We have a Thinktank of representatives from each section of the orchestra, who make decisions about how NYO musicians live communally on residencies. Our Leader and Principal Players have dedicated training in supporting their peers.
NYO is committed to maintaining an environment in which the welfare of our young musicians is paramount, and ensuring that they are protected from harm. Our Support Team are central figures at residencies, working to ensure a happy, calm environment. This group of around 12-14 caring, attentive individuals are available 24/7 to help with musicians concerns, whatever they may be. They are trained in listening, conflict resolution, health and wellbeing, and safeguarding. There is also a nurse present on residencies, who is available for medical advice and treatment whenever it is required.
Every adult that comes into contact with musicians of the orchestra, from the Support Team to Tutors and
Conductors, are DBS checked and abide by our safeguarding policy, which establishes boundaries for relationships both in person and online. NYO musicians are reminded regularly how important it is for them to feel comfortable and safe while they are on a residency. If anything were to occur that makes an musician feel uncomfortable, it must be reported to the Head of Support immediately so that action can be taken to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the young person.
Lee Ritchie is Head of Support and designated Safeguarding Officer; if you have any questions, please contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teenagers and parents are often anxious that NYO's intensive activities will distract from the educational demands of exams. NYO is a big commitment through the year and it’s true that the focus of NYO is on rehearsals and preparing for performance, which takes up a lot of time. We recommend that young people start their school work and exam revision well in advance, and come to NYO on top of their work, so that they are not under pressure. We try to ensure that there is some opportunity during the Winter and
Spring Rehearsal Residencies for study and revision. We encourage members to think of their time in the orchestra as a chance to develop not only their musicianship but their teamwork, leadership qualities, research skills and approach to balancing different ambitions – all of which will be invaluable in their future studies and careers. NYO fosters a culture of excellence and concentration, which flows back into school work and the ability to tackle exams.