Creating opportunities for over 4,500 young people in Bristol to access music education
We firmly believe that high-quality musical experiences should be accessible for everyone. The Earthsong Programme is an initiative between Bristol Beacon and the Earthsong Foundation that aims to give enriching opportunities for young people who attend schools in challenging areas of our city, who are from disadvantaged backgrounds or in schools where English is an additional language.
Start with singing
The first year of the Earthsong programme is called Start with Singing and is delivered to academic year 2 pupils, in Key Stage 1 (KS1).
The programme uses the accessibility of singing in Upper KS1 to teach and embed musicianship skills ready for instrumental tuition in Key stage 2 (KS2).
Our tutors and staff have developed a scheme of work in collaboration with class teachers using techniques and resources developed by Sing Up, The Voices Foundation and the British Kodaly Academy.
The programme provides a seamless bridge into whole class instrumental tuition (WCET), with exercises and techniques taken forward from the Start with Singing scheme into WCET, to create a more solid and connected transition to playing an instrument. This resource was re-written over the summer of 2020, to reflect the activity and findings from the first year.
Start with playing
After the success of the Earthsong programme in its first year, we developed Start with Playing in September 2020 to be delivered to Year 3 pupils.
This newly commissioned syllabus builds on the musicianship that pupils have gained through their own instrument – the voice, alongside a carousel of termly schemes of work on instruments such as untuned and tuned percussion, violin, ukulele and penny whistle.
One of the aims of this year is to introduce pupils to playing a range of instrument families and to help broaden their musical ambitions ahead of small group instrumental tuition in the third year of the programme.
“We are delighted with the very positive introduction to music learning Start with Singing is providing for our year 2 learners. Not only is it giving pupils taking part a high-quality and extremely enjoyable introduction to the joy of music, it is also strongly supporting our work in helping all pupils become creative, resilient and confident individuals in all aspects of school life.”
Pete Hallam, Principal of Minerva Primary Academy
The Earthsong Programme has 13 schools participating across Bristol with 21 classes in academic Year 2 and by the end of primary school Year 3, a further 21 classes will have engaged in the programme with over 1,200 pupils in both year groups of the participating schools.
Start with Singing tutors
This new team of specifically trained Bristol Beacon tutors lead weekly 45 minutes session in each of the 21 classes taking place in schools across the city.
Their aim is to deliver 33 sessions over the year, with an additional session in each school to celebrate their learning with parents and carers.
This equates to a total of over 25 hours of musicianship from singing sessions for each class, totalling over 520 hours of delivery.
It is a firm aspiration of the project that schools join together for a celebration at the end of the year and that the programme brings all of the participating Start with Singing groups together in mass participation events.
Start with Playing tutors
A team of several tutors, many of which have also delivered Start with Singing who aim to continue the work established with their previous Start with Singing cohort and build on the relationship and musical progression made in Year 1 of the programme.
As in the first year of the programme, the classes receive 45 minutes sessions each week for up to 33 weeks, with an inspirational performance that takes place at the end of the school year.
Alongside this, performances from inspirational musicians will be arranged in schools to bring playing alive to the classes.
Start with Ensemble
The third year of the programme – Start with Ensemble – started in September 2021.
In addition to Start with Singing and Start with Playing continuing in each school, around 8 pupils in each Year 4 class will be offered free instrumental lessons. These lessons will continue in Years 5 + 6 until the pupils leave for their feeder secondary schools.
It is our hope that we can collaborate with other partner schools and organisations to enable ensemble opportunities for all, so we can continue to replenish and invigorate our secondary orchestras and ensembles across the city.
From Autumn 2021, the Earthsong programme also offers Play On, a free club offered to all Year 4 pupils regardless of whether they are continuing with instrumental tuition.
Play On will be a mixture of singing, playing and fun games that will take place after school.