Year 1 at a glance
It’s amazing to think that the end of the first year of Musicate is in sight!
As the application process for year 2 opens, it’s a good opportunity to reflect on what has been going on since Musicate started in earnest in September.
Ben playing his tuba to excited pupils at St Thomas More Primary School.
Musicate is a multi-faceted project. Year 1 has involved 12 teachers from six Gloucestershire primary schools, 360 pupils directly (and the rest of the pupils in each school indirectly), six musicians from Birmingham Conservatoire, and two mentors; activities have included a weekend of training for the musicians, four days of CPD for the teachers with input from the mentors, 30 school visits, a sharing day, and six concerts across the year.
Although the primary schools are all very different – urban and rural, large and small – they share a desire for music to thrive throughout their school.
The teachers have participated in the CPD days with enthusiasm, getting under the skin of amazing pieces of music, discovering and sharing strategies for listening, and planning inspirational music lessons that they can deliver with their Musicate musician; it has been amazing to witness the impact on their confidence levels. They have also shared Musicate with their colleagues at school in a twilight CPD session, so that all class teachers can encourage their pupils to listen to music more deeply. Alongside their musicians, they are working hard to plan their Musicate celebration at the Showcase Concert in July.
The children now listen to both classical music and jazz with more focus and purpose; they enjoy music much more, and can concentrate on a piece of music for longer because they are listening in a different way. They are also developing the language and confidence to talk about music, and their own interpretation.
Nick responding musically to a pupil’s drawing, Linden primary School.
Our six musicians from Birmingham Conservatoire have brought great energy and verve to Musicate. Their approach to everything, from their first training session back in September to co-delivering music in school with their teachers throughout the year, has been unfailingly positive; they have dealt with unfamiliar concepts, risen to new challenges, and made a real difference to the way pupils and teachers listen to music.
They have adopted the same approach to the three concerts they will present at the Jazz and Music Festivals**, and it has been wonderful to see them grow in confidence.
For me Musicate has opened up new ways of engaging with young people and teachers at the same time. It has helped me develop my own practice and enabled me to use my skills on another level. One of the greatest things about Musicate is that it’s a team effort – the musicians, the mentors, the Festivals and, most importantly, the teachers and pupils.
Musicate has been a great opportunity for me to explore how I can enable children – of all musical abilities and backgrounds – to be genuinely creative. With a specific focus on listening to music, the project has encouraged children to truly connect with musical experiences, challenge the existing stereotypes of particular genres of music and develop their own musical tastes.
Mentors Rebecca Nash and William Carslake, both professional musicians in their own right, have played a pivotal role in many areas of Musicate. They have developed resources for the teachers and musicians around the building blocks of music, instrument families, and the Musicate playlist; they have planned and delivered CPD sessions focusing on pieces from the playlist, including activities for teachers to take back to school; and they have proved a great support and sounding board for the young musicians, joining them on school visits, contributing to their planning, and helping them to develop their ideas for the concerts they will present.
Still to come
A sharing day in June where we will all reflect on the first year of Musicate and share our experiences. Positive outcomes as well as lessons learned will all help to shape and develop Musicate, including how we continue to support year 1 schools and musicians in year 2.
**We are looking forward to the Jazz Festival Concert for School (28 April), presented by Nick Brown and Charlie Bates; the Musicate Launch Concert for year 2 (6 July), presented by Ben Jones and George Kirkham; the Music Festival Concert for School (7 July), presented by Jess Heynes and Chloe Knibbs; and the culminating Musicate Showcase Concert (8 July), featuring all the teachers and pupils, our six musicians, and the mentors.
Musicate Year 2
Primary schools and musicians* can apply to take part in Musicate Year 2 in May. Applications open on 3 May, and close on 24 May; interviews for the musicians will take place during the week beginning 12 June; and schools will be informed whether or not their application has been successful by 16 June.
*This year applications are invited from both Birmingham Conservatoire and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.