In February 2011, the Department for Education published “The Importance of Music – A National Plan for Music Education”. This document recognises that:
“Great music education is a partnership between classroom teachers, specialist teachers, professional performers and a host of other organisations, including those from the arts, charity and voluntary sectors.”
“Most children will have their first experience of music at school. It is important that music education of high quality is available to as many of them as possible: it must not become the preserve of those children whose families can afford to pay for music tuition. While music touches the lives of all young people, the disadvantaged can benefit most.”
“Music helps bind pupils into the wider life of the school. Schools cannot do everything alone: they need the support of a wider local music structure. Central to our proposals is the creation of new music education hubs to take forward the work of local authority music services from September 2012. More children will experience a combination of classroom teaching, instrumental and vocal tuition, opportunities to play in ensembles and the chance to learn from professional musicians. Hubs will provide opportunities that reach beyond school boundaries and draw-in the expertise of a range of education and arts providers.”
“When young people make music together, they work toward a common goal that has the potential to change lives profoundly for the better.”
“The National Plan is clear about the importance of music: it will ensure not just that more children have access to the greatest of arts forms, but that they do better as a result in every other subject.”
Torbay Music Service, in response to the National Plan for Music Education, sought support from schools and local music organisations to bid for, and win, funding from Arts Council England to become the lead organisation for the Torbay Music Education Hub.
What is the Hub?
The Torbay Music Education Hub is not a new organisation. It is not a new name for the Torbay Music Service. The Torbay Music Education Hub is a way of working – schools and organisations coming together to work in partnership and collaboration by sharing resources and expertise and ensuring a ‘joined up approach’ that benefits all of our young people. Through clear multi-way communication via focus group meetings and social media, plans are made according to needs identified by young people, families and music educators.
Organisations currently working as part of the Hub include Torbay Music Service; Primary Schools; Secondary Schools; Oldway Teaching School; Wren Music; Torbay and South Devon Music Centre; Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra; Welsh National Opera; Philharmonia Orchestra; daisi; South West Music School; Charanga; Parkfield; Hugh Nankivell (local workshop leader and composer).
The Torbay Music Education Hub is committed to evolving, changing and growing over time to ensure that it is a Hub that reaches as many young people as possible over time. This list is, therefore, ever changing and growing.
The National Plan for Music Education identifies four Core Roles and three Additional Roles that Hubs should work to fulfil.
Core Roles are to:
“Ensure that every child aged 5 – 18 has the opportunity to learn a musical instrument (other than voice) through whole-class ensemble teaching programmes for ideally a year (but for a minimum of a term) of weekly tuition on the same instrument.”
“Provide opportunities to play in ensembles and to perform from an early stage.”
“Ensure that clear progression routes are available and affordable to all young people.”
“Develop a singing strategy to ensure that every pupil sings regularly and that choirs and other vocal ensembles are available in the area.”
Extension Roles are to:
“Offer CPD to school staff, particularly in supporting schools to deliver music in the curriculum.”
“Provide an instrument loan service, with discounts or free provision for those on low incomes.”
“Provide access to large scale and/or high quality music experiences for pupils, working with professional musicians and/or venues. This may include undertaking work to publicise the opportunities available to schools, parents/carers and students.”
Hub organisations contribute to the delivery of each of these roles in a variety of different ways. These are explained in detail on the next few pages. Current provision is not finite. The Hub welcomes new ideas and approaches and is keen to develop all plans further.
How the Hub Structure works to deliver these roles:
The Strategy board has an overview of all of the musical activity in the bay, to ensuring that plans are fit for purpose and meet expectations. They ensure that unnecessary duplication of activity is minimised and that opportunities for partnership working are maximised. They also act as the working party for ‘progression’ as this is recognised as being a role that encompasses all the work of the Hub.
Each working party manages, delivers and commissions to achieve the goals set in a business plan for their role. They meet at least once a term to review and develop their business plan. This business plan should be informed by consultation with each of the Consultative Groups and developed in accordance with their advice and recognised needs.
Core Role 1: “Ensure that every child aged 5 – 18 has the opportunity to learn a musical instrument (other than voice) through whole-class ensemble teaching programmes for ideally a year (but for a minimum of a term) of weekly tuition on the same instrument.”
The working party for ‘First Access’ is led by Torbay Music Service.
Each school’s provision is planned through direct consultation between the Music Service and the School. Where required, Torbay Music Service can provide contact details for suitable teachers. They will also supply free instrument loan and funding for payment of tuition. Schools are expected to deal with payment of teachers, manage timetables to enable tuition to take place regularly, provide a suitable space (usually a classroom) for teaching to take place and ensure presence of a member of the school staff to help lead the session and encourage the children. TMS also works with schools to ensure that learners have ample opportunity to continue with their tuition after the initial period.
Currently schools provide opportunities for children to learn a diverse range of instruments including African Percussion, Samba, Trumpet, Violin, Clarinet, Flute, Recorder, Ukulele, Guitar and Trombone. Continued provision includes lunchtime or after school clubs as well as group and/or individual tuition. Most children are expected to contribute toward or fully meet the costs of this tuition.
Core Role 2: “Provide opportunities to play in ensembles and to perform from an early stage.”
The working part for ‘Ensembles’ is led by Torbay and South Devon Music Centre.
Nearly every young person will experience their first ‘ensemble’ experience during their lessons at school. Hopefully this will occur as part of their music curriculum into which ‘First Access’ has become firmly embedded. Performance will take place as part of this experience.
The majority of schools will, in addition, provide extra-curricular ‘ensembles’. These usually take place during lunchtimes or after school. They encompass many different genres and instruments. They can include samba bands, guitar groups, rock bands, orchestras, jazz/swing bands and so on. School ensembles have regular opportunities to perform at school concerts and other events.
The Torbay and South Devon Music Centre meet each week. They are open to students from Torbay and South Devon and provide a wide range of group music-making opportunities for all standards and will cater for most instruments. Weekly rehearsals lead up to end of term concerts taking place in Torquay and Totnes. They also perform at many local events.
South West Music School is part of a national network of Centres of Advanced Training supported by the Department for Education Music and Dance Scheme for exceptionally talented young musicians aged between 8 and 18. They provide a variety of holiday courses including a Grade 8 plus orchestra. This is an excellent opportunity for very talented young musicians to come together with equally gifted young people and take their playing to the next level.
Core Role 3: “Ensure that clear progression routes are available and affordable to all young people.”
The working party for ‘Progression’ is the Hub Strategy Board.
Torbay Music Education Hub recognises that every young person’s musical journey is different and can follow many different paths. As well as the traditional Grade examination route, students need the opportunity to explore different genres, instruments and group music-making opportunities. Additionally, some paths in music education can incur a cost that is prohibitive to many.
The key to ensuring the right musical journey for every young person is excellent communication. For this to occur, every organisation needs an excellent knowledge of all of the music opportunities available so that this knowledge can be passed on as appropriate. There also needs to be highly effective methods of communication that young people can access with ease. Facebook, Twitter and Creative Torbay are currently used by the Music Education Hub to create effective two-way communication.
Torbay Music Education Hub works with organisations in the bay to subsidise fees for local ensemble provision, bringing costs right down. Additionally schools and the Music Hub provide financial support for students eligible for Pupil Premium to enable them to take advantage of Instrumental Tuition. Music Service Instrument Hire costs are subsidised for these students also. Should students wish to take advantage of Holiday courses further afield, Torbay Music Service provides discretionary bursaries of up to 50% of the fees.
Core Role 4: “Develop a singing strategy to ensure that every pupil sings regularly and that choirs and other vocal ensembles are available in the area.”
The working party for the Singing Strategy is led by Wren Music.
It was identified in a recent data gathering exercise that all schools in Torbay run a school choir. In addition to this, there is a choir for all, run as part of the Torbay and South Devon Music Centre on Friday nights. Additionally, Wren Music have won a bid to start a new Roots Acapella choir for Torbay which is due to begin in 2014.
The Torbay Music Hub is working to develop a programme for schools to support them with choir provision.
‘Sing Around the Bay’ is a project that, as well as providing high quality singing training and opportunities, addresses many issues of Primary to Secondary School transition. Successful projects ran in 2012 and 2013 and a further project will run in 2015.
Extension Role 1: “Offer CPD to school staff, particularly in supporting schools to deliver music in the curriculum.”
The lead organisation for the Working Party for CPD is Oldway Teaching School.
Current provision includes a Primary Curriculum Support Group and an annual Music Education Conference, run by Torbay Music Service in partnership with Plymouth Youth Music Service, Babcock LDP and Cornwall Music Service.
Extension Role 2: “Provide an instrument loan service, with discounts or free provision for those on low incomes.”
As this service is ongoing, a working party is not seen as necessary.
Torbay Music Service provides an Instrument Hire Service. This service is ongoing. A wide variety of quality, almost new instruments are offered for hire. Reduced size and instruments classified as ‘endangered species’ are provided at a lower cost.
Additionally, some schools own instruments which they are able to loan or hire to students. There is also the ‘Assisted Purchase Scheme’ whereby families can purchase an instrument, VAT free, through the school.
Arts Council England’s ‘Take It Away’ Scheme provides interest-free loans of up to £5000 to families purchasing a musical instrument.
Extension Role 3: “Provide access to large scale and/or high quality music experiences for pupils, working with professional musicians and/or venues. This may include undertaking work to publicise the opportunities available to schools, parents/carers and students.”
The working party for ‘Events’ is led by Torbay Music Service.
Torbay Music Service provides the annual ‘Torbay Schools’ Festival of Performing Arts’ which offers schools and individuals the opportunity to perform in a professional environment with a large supportive audience. As part of the ‘Festival Awards for All’ individuals get the opportunity to work directly with musicians from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, South West Music School and Wren Music to refine performance technique.
As part of their three-year residency the Welsh National Opera is providing some creative workshops as well as instrumental demonstrations and performances for schools. The Philharmonia Orchestra, as part of their touring installation is providing a schools’ concert. The Wigmore Hall trust’s Heath Quartet has worked with two schools to compose, perform and broadcast new music with the pupils.
OfSted’s Survey report ‘What Hubs Must Do’ describes how schools should engage with their Hubs to ‘support school leaders to bring the numerous benefits of a good music education to all pupils, not simply the few who choose, or who have the resources, to specialise in the subject or an instrument.’
Torbay Music Education Hub is a way for schools and organisations to work together to ensure fair access to high-quality music education provision for all young people, to ensure that everyone gains from the wide-range of social, psychological, behavioural, socio-economic and academic advantages that music can bring about.
The structure and current provision is designed to have the space to evolve and application for new representation on working parties and the strategy board will be welcomed.
Only by all schools and organisations working together to plan, provide and signpost for all opportunities can all our young people benefit from all the excellent music provision that is on offer.