An inspiring, shared experience at the Royal Albert Hall for young people from neighbouring authorities

This blog is part 7 of a series of case studies about the work of hub partners in reaching more young people with music in Gloucestershire. Case studies are taken from our most recent annual report so some programmes will have ended, but they are representative of the work of the hub that is ongoing.

Gloucestershire Music (GM) has had a close relationship with Music for Youth (MfY) for seven years, hosting and providing support for its regional festival at Cheltenham Town Hall, and taking invited groups to it’s National Festival and Schools Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, London.

The Festival has featured performers from Gloucestershire Music, Bath and North East Somerset music education hub, and South Gloucestershire music education hub for many years, and being based in neighbouring authorities, it seemed only natural for the three to work in partnership. They began discussing how to showcase many of their top musicians and singers and an idea formed to create a massed ensemble which would perform at the 2016 MfY Schools Prom.

Gloucestershire Music was the lead organisation, commissioning a 10- minute piece suitable for a 150- piece wind orchestra and a 450- strong choir from local composer Philip Harper. Funding was provided by the three music hubs and by contributions from participants.

The choir was formed from existing secondary-aged pupils chosen by the three participating hubs/services. Students were  chosen from school or community groups (e.g. the Beauregard Youth Choir and Chamber Choir who had participated in MfY in the past) on the basis of their commitment, drive and passion for singing at a high level. Recordings as well as notation of the piece were available online, ensuring that all singers – from those who had learned traditionally to those who were self-taught – could learn the music.

The collaborative nature of this project, in bringing together three music hubs, MfY and the National Concert Band Festival, was a driving factor in its success.

Cllr Paul McLain, Gloucestershire County Council’s cabinet member for children and younger people, said at the time: “What a venue and what a mightycollection of musicians! This is such a great opportunity for Gloucestershire Music and the young musicians that it represents. Gloucestershire Music has won a number of national awards in recent years, and to now be playing at the Royal Albert Hall really is outstanding.”

You can read more case studies in our Annual Report

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Primary school teachers and future music leaders help create new generation of classical and jazz fans with Cheltenham Festivals

This blog is part 6 of a series of case studies about the work of hub partners in reaching more young people with music in Gloucestershire. Case studies are taken from our most recent annual report so some programmes will have ended, but they are representative of the work of the hub that is ongoing.

“The children now listen to classical music and jazz with more focus and purpose; they enjoy music much more and can concentrate for longer because they are listening in a different way. They are also developing the language and confidence to talk about it.” Teacher, Linden Primary.

Musicate is Cheltenham Festivals’ flagship music ducation programme. It aims to:

  •  inspire children to love and critically engage with music
  •  develop the confidence and
  • communication skills of early- career musicians through bespoke training programmes
  •  equip primary teachers and musicians with creative approaches to music education.

In its first year, 2016/17 it involved 12 teachers and 360 pupils from six Gloucestershire primary schools, six musicians from Birmingham Conservatoire and two professional musicians. Many hundreds more pupils and their teachers also benefited indirectly from activity in their school.

Following are two stories giving the experiences of a teacher and a conservatoire student.

Nicky finds new confidence to teach music in her school

Nicky is a class teacher at St Thomas More Catholic Primary. Like many ‘music non-specialist’teachers, she lacked confidence in her ability to teach music, and believed her skills to be very limited. As the Musicate programme progressed, she developed her skillset and was able to plan and team-teach confidently with Musicate’s Ben, one of the conservatoire musicians who the school had been paired with, and the music subject lead in school. She co-delivered a confident presentation at the Sharing Day, and played an equal role in producing her school’s contribution to the Showcase Concert.

She said: “My confidence to teach music, and my confidence generally, has grown so much. After the first CPD day, I was so nervous but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. I have never seen a particular child in my class so engaged; he has very severe autism but has connected with Ben and Will and the live music. It’s affected them all (and me and other staff) in so many different ways, so thank you so much to you and the whole Musicate team. Looking forward to working with you all again in the future.”

Nick learns how to share his musical skills with children

Nick’s skills and confidence developed in leaps and bounds through his pairing with Linden Primary school, something his tutors at Birmingham Conservatoire also noticed and commented on.

He built a strong relationship with teachers and pupils at his school, and made a real difference to the pupils.

“Musicate has offered plenty ofopportunity to develop and work on approaches,” said Nick. “ I’m better at enabling children to express theirthoughts in greater detail.”

In collaboration with another Musicate musician, he planned and presented a fun and engaging school concert for the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, attended by more than 600 pupils and teachers from 13 primaries.

One teacher from Calton Primary School commented: “The concert was child-friendly; lots of audience participation; interesting; informative; ALL the children absolutely loved it – they didn’t really know much about jazz before but can now discuss aspects with confidence.”

Nick also secured an internship at Cheltenham Jazz Festival, and after Musicate successfully applied for a role as Learning Trainee with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. He said: “I wouldn’t have come anywhere close to it without Musicate. I can’t put into words how much I’ve got out of it – it has truly been amazing, the perfect launchpad into so many other realms of success in life and work.”

You can read more case studies in our Annual Report

 

Creating new songs and unlocking voices with The Songwriting Charity

This blog is part 5 of a series of case studies about the work of hub partners in reaching more young people with music in Gloucestershire. Case studies are taken from our most recent annual report so some programmes will have ended, but they are representative of the work of the hub that is ongoing.

This year saw the continuation of the MMG and Gloucestershire Healthy Living and Learning (GHLL) funded term-long Vocal Projects delivered by The Songwriting Charity. The programmes help young people to create their own song, which is then performed, recorded and filmed.

This year the projects extended to seven of the county’s secondary schools and one primary. The focus was to include as many children from as broad a range of backgrounds as possible with three clear aims, which were to:

  •  achieve a good gender balance (increasing access to singing for boys in particular)
  •  increase the number of students who have struggled to access and maintain any regular singing
  •  continue to develop new ways for young people to engage with singing though songwriting, lyric writing and instrumental work, as Director Ben O’Sullivan explains, “responding to the songwriting process and ‘unlocking their singing voices almost by accident”.

The gender balance this year was good, with 96 boys and 72 girls takingpart in vocal projects. Cleeve School’s programme involved all boys, and Ben says: “It gave us confidence that music educators and headteachers are keen to encourage boys to sing. And just as importantly,” he continues, “that boys them selves genuinely love singing in a group, get a lot from it, and respond well to being encouraged to shine as singers and songwriters.”

The video from the programme, featuring the song, ‘Strong’, attracted a lot of attention, achieving 6,000 plays on YouTube in January alone – watch it here.

The Songwriting Charity also worked with Gloucester Hospital Education Service in partnership with The Music Works, and ran a whole school primary songwriting project involving 180 students across the key stages.

Pilot data on attendance from the programme in Newent school shows a marked improvement in attendance averaging a 55.2% reduction in absence, compared with the same period in the previous year, when the project didn’t run. This means that students taking part increased their attendance by 43 extra days in school overall.

In addition, six of the students now have 100% attendance, compared with only one before the programme began.

The Songwriting Charity is now working with schools to increase the scope of the study on attendance, exclusions and progress.

The Songwriting Charity has now worked in more than half of the county secondary schools (19 of the 39) and five others through G15 schools concert, and one-day workshops.

You can read more case studies in our Annual Report

 

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