Authored by Siobhan Shay - voluntary intern, with a focus on event management at One Education Music.
Setting The Scene
Despite the wet weather and traffic issues, over 700 children from 15 schools travelled to the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) to experience our Early Years Music Celebration. This event was for children in nursery and reception, and designed to introduce them to a variety of instruments, songs, and types of music. It was still a normal term-time day at the College, with many students preparing for and giving recitals in the rooms upstairs while the children arrived. It was wonderful for the children to see the staff and students going about their daily work, as it created an atmosphere full of inspiration and achievement as soon as the children entered the building.
Songs were taught during the event and had a strong emphasis on participation: singing, clapping, and playing percussion instruments. This engaged and included all children regardless of ability or prior experience. Children were encouraged to stand up and perform actions along to songs and some lucky pupils were chosen to come onto the stage and ‘conduct’ the other children with a red and green stop and go sign, as well as control the volume and speed at which they played, which they definitely took delight in!
Children were also encouraged to listen to solo performances, duets, and trios from the musicians leading the session. Jo Buckler and Beth Relton performed a violin and flute duet, Iggle Piggle’s song from CBBC’s ‘In the Night Garden’ with pianist Michael Mukiibi which all of the children recognised and enjoyed very much. This broke up the session and gave the children a chance to experience some short performances as well as actively participate. My personal highlight of the performance, which also went down very well with the children, was percussionist Ged Marciniak’s contribution to the song ‘Boom Chicka Boom’ in the styles of Elvis Presley and a school caretaker, the latter aptly named ‘Broom Chicka Broom’.
Events such as this encourage children to travel to arts and cultural venues such as the RNCM, the Bridgewater Hall and the Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama, and to engage with and appreciate music in a professional venue. One Education Music offers a range of events to schools in the North West which give children access to the arts and a way to foster artistic education development. This ‘cultural entitlement’ is an incredibly important aspect of every child’s education especially as arts education becomes less of a priority in many schools. Events contribute to the enrichment of the curriculum, as well as providing a fun and interactive way of learning. This is particularly crucial in the early years as it prepares children for the move into key stage one and helps foster skills such as listening, co-ordination, and teamwork.
Other Early Years Music-Making Activities
This event also links with the One Education ‘Polkadots’ initiative, which encourages school staff to run after-school sessions of music making for their children. Polkadots sessions include singing, playing percussion instruments, movement to music, using puppets and performing as a group.
In my role of event steward, it was a pleasure to meet the children as they arrived, escort them to their seats and then watch as they all had a great time joining in and experiencing music with their classmates, making plenty of noise with their percussion instruments - I did not see a single child or adult not having a good time during the session! As the schools filed out of the concert hall, many children and staff thanked us for the session, waving us goodbye as they left singing and humming the songs from the day with glowing smiles on their faces. This was definitely the part of the day that made the time spent creating, checking and re-checking the seating plan so worthwhile!