|‘Children who learn an instrument at primary school are more confident and have higher self-esteem, according to research into the Wider Opportunities initiative, where 9 and 10 year-olds learn to play an instrument together as a class for free. They look forward to music lessons and want to do well.’ (Wow, it’s music next: Impact Evaluation of Wider Opportunities Programme at Key Stage Two by Anne Bamford and Paul Glinkowski 2009).
Launched in 2006, the groundbreaking First Access programme (formerly known as Wider Opportunities) has introduced more than two million children nationwide to the magic and discipline of making music. Edsential’s skilled musicians teach pupils to play their instrument every week. The children learn together as a whole class and the class teacher joins in and learns to play too.
Key to success is broadening access to music lessons, giving every child an opportunity to play an instrument, regardless of their parents’ income or interest in music at home. As well as the benefits of developing children academically and socially, it is a powerful springboard for new talent too.
What are the benefits?
· Music is good for you! Making music can enhance children’s learning in many ways.
· The wider opportunities programme is inclusive. As a whole class activity, it offers equality of opportunity for all.
· The programme contributes to the school music curriculum and offers an intensive experience for the class teacher who can also learn to play an instrument alongside the children.
· Pupils are given ownership and responsibility for a ‘real’ instrument for a year. Children respond positively to the trust and responsibility that is placed in them.
· Working together co-operatively, listening to each other and teamwork skills are enhanced throughout the programme.
· Team teaching alongside professional musicians is a stimulating and novel experience for many teachers.
· Children get a real experience of learning to play a musical instrument so they are able to make an informed choice about whether or not to continue.
Is the ten week programme free of charge?
The school receives ten weeks of whole class ensemble teaching, including instrument hire, free of charge. The ten week programme is fully funded through the Musical Routes Music Education Hub (usually for either Year 4 or Year 5) with funding provided by DFE and Arts Council England.
What instruments can we learn?
First Access programmes are available on brass, woodwind, strings, guitar, ukulele, recorder and percussion subject to availability. Mixed programmes, for example; woodwind and brass or violin and cello, are popular. These mixed programmes require two tutors.
Getting the most out of your programme:
Edsential musicians have had extensive training and achieved a high level of expertise on their instruments. All tutors have an enhanced DBS check to work with children and undertake safeguarding training on a rolling programme. The tutor may not necessarily have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and the programme should be planned and delivered in partnership with a member of school staff who should be present throughout. Professional development for class teachers, to enable everyone to get the most out of their programme, is available each year. The class teacher is an important member of the teaching team and music tutors welcome their input.
Space is required when thirty children each have a large musical instrument. The school hall is ideal with access to another room for working in smaller groups. Storage space is required for the instruments until the children take them home.
Performance opportunities throughout the programme are vital for motivating children. Assemblies and performances for parents are a good idea. Each year the Music Service organises concerts, performances and special events that you might like to join.
What happens at the end of the ten week programme?
Many schools choose to continue with their whole class learning programme after the ten week funded period is over. Schools will be charged at our standard rates for tutor time and instrument hire.
Alternatively, the tutors may continue to visit school to teach those children who wish to continue to learn in small groups. Schools will be charged at our standard rates for tutor time and instrument hire. These charges may be passed onto families.
If music tuition is not available in school, children may continue to learn at one of Edsential’s music centres in Cheshire and Wirral. Children will be provided with information about the music centres at the end of the programme.