Any eagle eyed students or staff of BCU may have noticed the new exhibition in the Curzon Building’s atrium, all about the fantastic ARCO Project…

but, what is ARCO Project?

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 students in the U.K. Weekly individual instrumental lessons, mentoring and string quartet coaching are delivered by a group of current students and recent graduates from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire via video conferencing system, ZOOM.

The project encourages a year round exchange programme between both Birmingham and Soweto, sharing values, ideas and culture to facilitate quality communication in the online lesson. Currently there are 25 students at the Morris Isaacson Centre for Music (MICM) studying violin, viola, cello and bass. They are taught by 20 RBC students, staff and graduates.

How is research done?

  • Colourstrings

Working alongside the Colourstrings method, we have a core of research at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire into the implementation of the method within the cross-continental online lesson. Inclusion of the method not only in the solo lessons but chamber music, orchestral and duet is an exciting opportunity to provide a bespoke methodology for the model of distance learning.


  • Chamber Music online

Complexity of the instrumental sound (the combination of instruments) doesn’t come without its limitations in the online arena. The necessity for independent learning and analysis is one way in which the online lesson promotes further ownership of musicianship for the student.


  • Solo lesson online

With 25 weekly online ‘zoom’ lessons, coupled together with an in person lesson at MICM there has been development in the online lesson structure. Many teachers take different approaches and have a tailored plan between both sides of the lessons (in persona and online)


Testimonials from current researchers:


Dr Daniel Galbreath, Post-Doctoral ARCO Researcher:

ARCO, along with many RBC Learning and Participation efforts, has enormous potential to lead the UK in HE-led practice and educational research.

Ben Isaac, PG2 MMus violinist:

Upon consideration for post-graduate study, the ARCO Project was a large contributing factor in my application to study at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. The opportunity to directly implement my learning from real-life exposure to teaching via the internet has given me an opportunity of weekly analysis of the taught pedagogical programme at RBC.


The final aim?

Although being a mostly practice based project, we are dedicated to quality research and are constantly looking for ways in which we can collaborate cross faculty and beyond Birmingham City University.

*Please contact us at to get involved if you have any thoughts or ideas!


Alistair Rutherford



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