There are lots of resources available out there for primary music teachers, but knowing how busy we all are, we also know it’s not always possible to find/access them.
With this in mind we asked Analie Hart, from Heron Primary, to put together her ‘top tips’ for resources and support that range from ‘free’ to ‘great value’
What can you get for FREE?
- BBC Ten Pieces – a fantastic project exploring ten pieces of classical music with loads of video clips and resources. You can order a free DVD and also download a fantastic free e-book all about instruments of the orchestra. Visit the website
- BBC Musical Mysteries – this is a fun website exploring different musical elements. Visit the website
- MMG website and monthly enewsletter – make sure you are subscribed to the newsletter. It will keep you up to date with news and opportunities for you and your pupils, and local and national resources. The website is also full of helpful articles, advice and links. Visit the website. Sign up for enewsletters. Follow MMG on Facebook and Twitter
- Espresso – if your school uses Espresso, there are some great resources and video clips under the Music section.
- YouTube – if you are able to access it from school, YouTube is full of fantastic resources.
- Linking with other local schools – you may find that your local secondary school would love to create a link with you. For example, this might be bringing their choir to perform at your school or allowing you to use their resources.
- Free support session from a music specialist – did you know that you can have a day’s input (up to three hours in-school) from a music specialist to help you with developing music in your school? This will be tailored to your needs. Visit the webpage
- Small Grants of up to £1,000: did you know that you can apply for a grant of up to £1,000 to develop extra-curricular music in your school? One example is a school that bought a set of Djembe and then paid for a specialist teacher to lead the African Drumming Club. One year on and the club is thriving with a small financial contribution from parents each week. Find out more
What can you get that’s very low cost?
- Cheltenham Music Festival – every year the Cheltenham Music Festival offer a series of heavily subsidised workshops for schools, approx. £30 per workshop. They also invite children to a concert at the Cheltenham Town Hall with an optional workshop afterwards. The cost is generally £1 per child and is an amazing opportunity for children to experience live music. Make sure you are on their mailing list to ensure you have up to date information. Visit the website.
- Charanga Music – MMG subsidise the cost of Charanga music (an online music scheme), bringing it down to £150 per year. The scheme is proving very popular across the county. You can get a free 30-day trial to get an idea of what is on offer. There are also free training sessions. Visit the Charanga website or the MMG website for more information.
- Cluster singing events – Contact Lisa Mayo, MMG’s Singing Champion, to find out about being part of Cluster Singing Events.
What can you get that’s great value?
- Young Voices – an amazing opportunity for children to perform as part of a huge choir with thousands of other children. Our local one is Birmingham, usually in January. An unforgettable experience for the children. Visit the website.
- Music for Youth – another fantastic opportunity for schools as well as young people. Enter your music group and you could get the chance to perform at Cheltenham Town Hall, Birmingham Symphony Hall and even the Albert Hall! Visit the website.
- The Songwriting Charity – will come in and work with a class or group of pupils to create their own unique song in a day. This can be accompanied by a video. To see the high standard of their work have a look at some of the songs and videos on their website or YouTube
- The Music Works – services include whole class iPad/music tech programmes, small group music mentoring for students at risk of exclusion, low attainment, mental health problems, singing programmes. Visit the website.
- Gloucestershire Music – offer whole class ensemble tuition on a variety of instruments including violin, clarinet, recorder, brass, percussion and ukulele. Visit the website.
- Groove On – offer world whole class percussion in blocks of 10 or 20 weeks, or half/full day sessions. Visit the website.
- Gloucestershire Academy of Music – offer whole class woodwind, string and brass tuition in blocks of 20 weeks. Visit the website.
To find out more about the offers above, as well as other partners of the Hub, download our latest Schools Brochure here.
We hope you’ve found this list helpful. If you know of any other resources and/or support that you think should be included please let us know – email Brenda Whitwell
Good luck with developing the music in your school!
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In our latest blog we welcome back Omar Khokher. Omar is Head of Music at Severn Vale School in Gloucester, and is currently helping MMG with creating a secondary teachers’ network and finding out about the needs of secondary schools around the County.
Here Omar tells us about his favourite iPad music apps:
“I’m often asked to recommend music making apps for iPad, so here is my list. This is not a top ten. Just those apps which I tend to use most often and find useful for productivity and music making. Enjoy.
1. Garageband. This is the ‘daddy’ of music making apps for iPad, (well it is Apple!). Create multi track recordings using audio, virtual instruments, loops, and hook up a midi keyboard through the camera kit.
2. Roland Air Recorder. Use the built in microphone of your iPad or iPhone to record and export in MP3 format. A nifty portable recorder.
3. Jam Player. Allows you to change the speed and pitch of tracks in your iTunes library. Great for making tweaks to backing tracks.
4. Launchpad. A great and fun iPad (and iPhone 6) version of the Novation Launchpad, also has interactivity with the Launchpad mini.
5. Launchkey. A great synth based on the Novation Launchkey synth engine.
6. Tape. A great recording app by Focusrite. Easy to use 2 track recording software from the team that brought you the Scarlett 2i2 interface. Effective built in mastering for a freebie, and you can bounce the track straight to MP3 and then email. I use this quite extensively for recording in the classroom and emailing to students straight away.
7. Auxy. I ntroducing a new way to make electronic music. Create your own drums, bass lines, and synth melodies. Auxy is modern beat making without distractions.
8. Take. A creative vocal recorder. Originally for iPhone, but works great on iPad. Record three different layers and add fx on the fly. A great piece of creative kit.
9. AmpliTube for iPad. Turn your iPad into the ultimate mobile guitar and bass multi-FX processor and DAW recording studio with AmpliTube! Play, practice and record with a massive collection of virtual amplifiers, cabinets, stompboxes and more from the leader in analog gear modeling.
10. Vocalive. VocaLive provides singers and vocalists with a suite of 12 real-time professional vocal effects along with a capable recorder for studio quality sound in a portable package. The effects can be combined into a chain of 4 processors and saved as presets. A collection of up to 50 presets is included to get you up and running immediately.”
That seems like a quite an exhaustive list! However, if you know of any other music apps that you think we’ve missed, do get in touch and tell us all about them.
Our latest guest blog is from Lee Holder (aka Lee Chaos), a teacher, mentor, promoter and DJ who runs the BTEC course at Gloucestershire College and works freelance for The Music Works, a key partner in the hub. From singing harmonies along to the sound of his mum vacuuming the carpet, to building his own music interfaces to make music more accessible, Lee works with people of all ages and abilities to help them make music.
A few people have asked me how I ended up having a career in music, so I thought I’d spend a bit of time trying to remember how I ended up making music for a living. It’s not been the most obvious of routes and it certainly wasn’t the plan from the beginning.
My first musical memory is of being very young and very ill, wrapped up in a blanket, and singing harmonies along to the sound of my mum vacuuming the carpet. I remember the feelings in my head as I sang, and played around with different notes, seeing which felt nicest when sung along to the mechanical drones. My second musical memory is of a big kid picking on me for singing too loud in the school choir at Primary school – I’d always enjoyed singing up until that point, but suddenly I became very conscious of my voice, and this one comment damaged my confidence so badly that I became reluctant to sing alone for many years after.
Secondary school was a disaster for me musically – this was a long time before equality and diversity and Every Child Matters, and our teachers seemed to regularly leave less able students behind in order to focus on the naturally talented members of the class. And, so, after a few unsuccessful experiments with a recorder and a violin, I was classified as Not Musical, a state that could only have been remedied by a combination of costly private lessons and enthusiasm, both of which I couldn’t afford at that point.
Around this time I became an avid heavy metal fan, initially drawn in by the artwork of bands like Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Led Zeppelin and so on, before encountering Guns N Roses – apologies to any fans reading this, but I found Appetite for Destruction so repellent with its misogynistic lyrics and whiny vocals that I sold all of my metal records and disappeared down an electronic music rabbit-hole. For me this was the gateway to incredible new soundscapes and unexplored worlds, some of which were musically within my grasp through the magical powers of the holy trinity of synthesis, sequencing and sampling.
When I was doing my A-levels, we had a change of staff in the music department, and a more forward-looking music teacher called Mr Yarnley changed my life forever. He updated the school music room with a synthesiser and 4-track recorder, declared that he didn’t have time to learn how to use it and by some twist of fate, give me the keys to the music room to experiment with the equipment during private study sessions. I balanced my academic studies with an art A-level and as much music as I could fit in the gaps around the edges, learning how to put tracks together piece by meticulous piece, compensating for a lack of music theory with remorseless trial and error. These early experiments even got an opportunity to take to the stage, early synth-pop experiments sticking out awkwardly in the end of term rock concerts.
Electronic music became my hobby whilst I went through art college for 4 years, firstly in Cheltenham and then in St Albans. I spent all my money on music equipment and records. My first student grant (those were the days) went on my first drum machine, my second got spent on my first sampler, and the money from my job was spent on cheap food and gig tickets. My college course was in modelmaking – something I wasn’t particularly good at, but which gave me a wide set of problem-solving and business skills. With some friends we also staged a hostile takeover of the Students Union, and we started to run events alongside scraping a pass on the course. Although I was a barely adequate modelmaker, I was able to use computers to enhance and manipulate my 3D creations, and in my final year I was able to combine this with early experiments in computer programming, installations and composing film soundtracks. By the end of the course I knew I had no future as a modelmaker and knew that music was what fired my motor.
After the inevitable freefall from college graduate into dead-end job, I ended up working in music retail whilst starting to form my first serious band, The Chaos Engine. We were the band with no drummer at a time when grunge was big, but our stripped-down and portable stage set-up, coupled with our love of filling the stage with projections, smoke and strobes, meant that we got a lot of gigs and played all over the country. I always maintain that we didn’t necessarily get gigs because we were a great band as much as the fact that we were incredibly efficient, well organised and easy to work with. Most of my free time was taken up booking gigs, promoting, running our little fan club and writing & recording music at home.
The usual musical route of sending out demos to record labels and getting rejection letters was followed before we decided to self-finance our own CD – this wasn’t common at the time but thanks to some great T-shirt designs and paying gigs, we’d managed to save up enough money to give it a go. Suddenly, people started to take the band seriously, and because of my contacts in the record store, we were able to get the album on the computer system and shipped out to other stores. Accidentally, I was running a record label.
Wasp Factory Recordings was a great idea in principle – it was more like a co-operative than a traditional label might be, and we got to sign and work with many of the bands that we had enjoyed gigging with in the earlier years. We released more than 20 CDs around the world, took artists to play festivals in Europe, North America and Australia, did deals with Microsoft to provide music for video games, won awards, had brilliant adventures, and made hardly any money at all. Whilst trying to control this juggernaut, I also worked at a local arts centre called The Axiom, which is where I learned how to be a sound and lighting engineer, DJ and events manager.
Somewhere in amongst all of this I met George Moorey, who asked me to do some music workshops for a project he was running called Wired Music. From this small seed, I started to get involved in teaching and mentoring young people in bands, briefly running the recording studio at Whaddon Youth Arts Centre and providing music sessions for young offenders and excluded school children. Of all the work I’d done to date, this some of was the most rewarding so far. When the funding for that project ran out, I decided to look for other work, and as luck would have it, I managed to get a job running a project called In Tune for Stroud College. Over 18 months, we worked with 150 hard to reach students trying to re-engage them in education through a programme of music, film-making, poetry, DJing, animation and anything else that would catch their imagination. It was here that I really began to understand the positive effect that music could have, how it could literally transform people and energise them like nothing else. It helped people to communicate and express themselves when everything else had failed, and I realised that it had done the same for me throughout my life.
Ever since then I’ve been working to try and provide these opportunities for people of all ages and abilities. I’ve started to build my own music interfaces to allow people with limited mobility to access music making, and to modify existing instruments to make them more accessible. I think back to my experiences of music in the past, and of all the barriers that were put in my way, and use this experience to try and help people overcome whatever barriers they face. In general, we have moved towards being a more egalitarian society since I struggled with a recorder in the 80’s, but in some regards, music education has failed to keep pace with these developments, and still judges musical accomplishment by a set of criteria that haven’t changed in 50 years. Similarly, the music industry has struggled with change and its reluctance to adapt to a digital age has stunted its growth of late. It’s time to move bravely into the future and maybe leave the recorders behind for a while.