The youth music charity, the professional orchestras and the secondary school sector

Modulo Online

Orchestras for All’s online response to Covid-19 in which young musicians creatively shared their lockdown experience, developing both musically and socially through film-making and soundtrack composition tutorials and participation in a virtual orchestra.

Orchestras for All (OFA) is a youth music charity breaking down barriers to music-making for 11-18-year-olds. The Modulo Programme supports under-resourced secondary schools across the UK to establish small instrumental ensembles or ‘Modulos’, open to all instrument and skill levels, who are then brought together as large-scale pop-up orchestras. This approach was adapted for online music-making in summer 2020. The OFA team managed the project, liaising with schools and partners and developing the artistic programme.

Prior to the online sessions, professional musicians from the BBC Philharmonic and the City of London Sinfonia delivered in-school masterclasses empowering the individual school Modulos and their teachers. Alongside OFA Conductor, Emma Oliver-Trend, and Composer Dr Daniel Bickerton, the same musicians then delivered pre-recorded and live Zoom tutorials for Modulo members for the culminating virtual Modulo meets.

The 35 Modulo schools across the UK engaged their students to participate in Modulo Online. This offered an opportunity for their musicians to reconnect after months of social isolation away from school and re-engage them in their passion for music making from home.

How did the collaboration come about?

Modulo Online empowered young musicians to continue to make music at home through OFA’s season theme, My Roots, Our Routes, exploring human migrations and journeys. Over four weeks, the 35 schools in the network were invited to co-create a film and soundtrack, Roots, and a virtual performance of the African American Spiritual, The Gospel Train.

OFA engaged its network of professional musicians, composers and leaders to offer virtual tutorials for the secondary school Modulos. The project was funded by Arts Council England and Harriet’s Trust, a private funder supporting initiatives where the arts are used as a tool for social change.


What were the most important factors that contributed to the success of this project?

Response to need
Response to COVID-19
Combination of skill sets
Combination of participants
Volunteer support
Delivery of project
Social impact
Existing relationships
Available funding


Project funding

The project was funded by Arts Council England and Harriet’s Trust, a private funder supporting initiatives where the arts are used as a tool for social change.


Will the project continue beyond COVID-19 lockdown?

The Modulo programme is planning to return to live face-to-face activity in 2021. However, we will continue to build and develop elements of the virtual programme which will strengthen our support to under-resourced schools and music teachers across the UK.

The virtual tutorials and webinars will continue to build stronger working relationships between professional musicians, individual students and school communities. This will enable us to engage our national network of schools from all over the UK on a more regular basis and further harness the potential of online technology to deliver collaborative musical and creative composition sessions virtually.