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.