A new electronic music initiative in secondary schools


By Caro C
on 28 June, 2018

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Push Pad Pioneers

One Education Music is passionate about music education including the field of electronic music and music technology. We have already enabled and empowered many children and young people in this important area of music and the music industry.

Our latest initiative is an exciting partnership project with music production software company Ableton Live funded by Manchester Youth Music Hub.

Specifically targeting secondary schools, Ableton Live software is an industry standard alternative to software like Logic Pro or Cubase, with its own hardware controller called the “Push”. Originally designed for DJs, this software has a system and interface which lends itself to music performance and production without using a mouse and computer keyboard.


So far we have worked with Year 7-9 students at Lancasterian School, William Hulme Grammar and The East Manchester Academy (TEMA). A 5-week course was designed by electronic music specialist Caro C where students learned how to use the Ableton software and Push Controller to make their own music, bringing together both electronic and acoustic elements.

Students from William Hulme Grammar and TEMA then spent a day at Reform Radio in May 2018 to produce their own radio show and perform their tracks made using the Ableton Push controller. The students democratically came up with the catchy radio show title “Push Pad Pioneers” themselves.

You can listen to the programme again here or by clicking on the photo below:

Simon Lyon from Ableton came along to the Reform Radio production day, was interviewed by the students for the show, and was really impressed:

 “It’s really great not only to hear the music but also the students’ thoughts about [Ableton] Live and Push. Some really switched on young people. Love it!”

The students really seemed to enjoy the experience which allowed for different levels and needs to be able to enjoy learning and making their own music. Some students had not made their own music before whilst more experienced musicians extended their skills as they integrated Ableton and the Push controller with their pre-existing musical passions. For example, a young drummer soon became a budding finger drummer playing drums pads live and another was looping guitar and vocals live.

Project leader Caro C reflects on the pilot project:


It is exciting to work with young people and see them develop their creative expression, musical and technical skills. They rose to the challenge of producing and performing their music and many turned out to be natural radio show presenters too! We hope this was a positive and memorable experience for the students that will inspire them within and beyond music.

We will now evaluate this work so far, giving valuable feedback to Ableton, and look forward to working with more schools in the next academic year (from Sept 2018).

We would like to thank the schools, their teachers and students, for helping make this project a great success.