Academic learning/teaching


Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Jennens Road, Birmingham, United Kingdom

Arco is an innovative alliance, established in 2015 between Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and Cape Gate MIAGI Centre for Music (CMCM), an inspiring institution in Soweto, Johannesburg.

Arco provides regular distance-learning opportunities for talented children in South Africa, who for multiple reasons, do not have access to the same level of musical education as people in Europe.

Weekly individual instrumental lessons, mentoring and string quartet coaching are delivered by a group of sixteen current students and recent graduates from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire via video conferencing systems. Regular events occurring within Birmingham Conservatoires String Department, such as masterclasses, workshops and performances are streamed live to South Africa for the benefit of the CMCM students. Each summer, Arco teachers from the UK travel to South Africa for the annual festival – an immersive musical experience, building on and solidifying skills learnt throughout the year.

Arco Festival

The Arco Festival is an annual, immersive musical experience in South Africa, building on and solidifying skills learnt throughout the year. The festivals of 2016 and 2017 have been enormously successful and truly life-changing experiences for all involved. Plans for the 2018 festival are already underway.

Arco Exchange

2017 sees the launch of Arco Exchange, with selected Arco students being hosted in the UK for specic projects and festivals. So far, partnerships have been established with the Cecil Aronowitz International Viola Competition and Festival, Chetham’s School of Music and Pro Corda – the National School for Young Chamber Musicians. Three students from Soweto will be traveling to England in November 2017 and we are currently in the process of funding further trips for 2018.

In 2017, Arco piloted a teacher training scheme, welcoming Jan Repko to Soweto to work with Arco teachers. Enormously successful, we will be continuing the scheme with both Jan and celebrated pedagogue Wiesje Miedama in 2018.

Our Vision

Our vision is for a future where everybody benefits from the value of music.

We provide universal and targeted learner-led opportunities to create music. We supply training and tools to primary and secondary schools to help them transform mandatory music teaching, and we work in partnership to use the power of creating music to affect individual and social change.


  1. To refresh and embed our innovative learning models in the secondary sector through professional development, new approaches, resources and supporting and growing our network
  2. To develop and rollout a Musical Futures approach for primary school music
  3. To establish an annual professional development event delivered in partnership with others

Out of school settings

  1. To develop new partnerships to deliver professional development programmes for those working with disadvantaged young people
  2. To deliver an income-generating professional development Musical Futures programme for workplace learning


  1. To grow a sustainable income
  2. To strengthen networks nationally and internationally
  3. To build the Musical Futures brand in the UK and overseas
  4. To better understand our impact and outcomes

We are keen to work with partner organisations who share our vision. Please contact Abigail D’Amore if you would like to discuss working with us.


About the project

Ten Pieces aims to open up the world of classical music to 7-14 year-olds across the UK and inspire them to develop their own creative responses to the music.

  • Explore our ‘Ten Pieces’ films; these consist of ten performances of classical music – there are twenty pieces in total for you to use
  • You can watch the whole set of each Ten Pieces collection by ordering a free DVD box set or by viewing each performance separately. The performances are between two and ten minutes in duration
  • The pieces are supported by free downloadable teaching resources including lesson plans, composer information, cross-curricular resources and simplified orchestral arrangements
  • Catch up on what’s been happening in the last two jam-packed years in this clip and in our photo gallery
  • You can also look ahead and see the list of pieces selected for the 2017/18 academic year. New resources for this list will be launched for the next autumn term

Ten Pieces Champions are Music Education Hubs, Music Services, orchestras, film, dance and other arts organisations from across the UK working in collaboration with the BBC to introduce classical music to the next generation. They have signed up to Champion the project and work together on delivering music and arts education to every young person throughout the nations and regions.

Visit the Champions page and browse by region to find a Champion nearby.

If you’re an arts organisation that’s interested in becoming a champion you can email for an information pack and sign-up form.