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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


Empowering teenagers to improve their mental health through music with The Music Works

This blog is part 3 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.

Music Minds is a music-based mental health programme for teenagers, run by The Music Works. It helps young people to cope with problems such as stress, anxiety and depression; and behaviours such as self-harm and eating disorders. It does this by empowering students to consciously use music to help with self-expression, self-awareness, relaxation and mindfulness.

The programme has been piloted in two schools: Barnwood Park, and Severn Vale, and has been funded by Youth Music, NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning, Gloucestershire Healthy Living and Learning and Make Music Gloucestershire and has been part of a national action research programme looking at how arts interventions could be commissioned as part of NHS services.

One of the important aspects of Music Minds is that is has been shaped by young people and teachers as it has progressed. Termly focus groups with students and teachers, where they share their experiences and ideas to help us to adapt and improve the programme. These sessions have shown that participants are taking conscious decisions to express or manage their feelings through music:

“I get angry really easily. With music, Iend up singing to it and it just calms me down. It is a way to vent without physically venting.”

“Music Minds has helped me. When I’m stressed I listen to music. And I put down the words that are making me feel stressed.”

“I never really lashed out on other people but I’d punch a wall until my hands were physically bleeding. I’d isolate myself and block out everyone. I’d do everything I could to punish myself. This has shown me that I’m not the only one feeling this. I have major trust issues. This has helped me talk to people more. I can take everything I’m feeling and do it in a productive way through music.”

The interim report on the first phase has shown that Music Minds has made a significant difference to young people’s mental wellbeing. 96% of participants said the programme had indirectly helped their problems; 42% said it had helped quite a lot or a great deal; 37.5% said their problems had improved.

One young person was rock bottom in self-esteem. There were serious concerns about her behaviour, and she was in the top five of students in her school with the most challenging behaviour. Now, she is no longer a concern at all and staff attribute this change to Music Minds.

They’ve said that their relationships have improved, they’re feeling better about themselves and they’re more able to cope with problems:

“I didn’t really know what people were like until Music Minds. Now listening to other people’s problems, I think, I could have been nicer, why wasn’t I nicer?”

“At the start of Music Minds I didn’t really take part, but by the end I’d grown in confidence, I found spoken word … If I feel like I’m stressed I use spoken word, and I wouldn’t have done before …. It helps.”

“It takes your mind off stress, it relieves you from, not your problems, they’restill there, it takes the ease off stressand expectations. Now we’re startingour GCSEs, there are a lot of expectations, a lot of pressure. In Music Minds you don’t need to make it A* grade, it can be whatever you want, you don’t have to do certain stuff tomake it ‘right’.”

The second phase will be completed in December 2017, with a final report due out in early 2018. The programme will then be rolled out to more schools.

You can read more case studies in our Annual Report


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