Author Archives: Adam Cooper

Transition from Tuition to Community Music Practice

Editor’s Note: This article was published on behalf of Tim Coyte, Project Co-ordinator for Exchanging Notes Hartlepool. Original piece can be found on Youth Music Network

I’m pleased to introduce Adam Bulpitt, our Lead Musician at Switch It. Adam works alongside our Targeted Youth Support Worker and Co-delivery Musicians at Switch It.

For those who are unaware, Switch It is a musical intervention for vulnerable young people from Hartlepool in the North East of England, funded by Youth Music, managed and delivered by Hartlepool Borough Council’s Youth Service. The programme supports young people’s social and emotional development through targeted musical activities. We work with young people aged 13 to 25.

Adam joined the project in September 2019 he comes from a background of private tuition and working in primary schools so Switch It is a significant change for Adam, his practice now includes working with groups of young people in youth centres and other “informal” provision, he is now adapting more of a community music approach to his work. I’d like to share Adam’s experience here:

So what are the difference between tuition in education settings and working with groups of young people in youth centres?

Adam says “Community music with young people has a different focus, it’s not just about developing musical skills, although that’s important there are broader aims like developing transferable skills; teamwork, resilience, self-confidence and self-efficiency.”

Adam feels that 1:1 tuition does provide opportunities for students to gain confidence and develop organisational skills but that this is a by-product rather than a specific focus he says;

“Community music practice and working with groups rather than individuals allows young people to have more opportunities to shape the activity and how they participate, from what instrument to what songs they play, where and when to hold a performance, how to work as a group and make decisions collectively.”

Adam tells me that how children and young people participate makes a big difference to how they engage in a workshop or lesson. Switch It is about voluntary participation – young people choose to be there, they set their own goals for musical progression and choose how they participate. When children “sign up” for tuition Adam found that parents expectations around musical development and achieving grades were often a barrier to positive engagement.

With Switch It, Adam said that young people tend to exhibit disruptive behaviour because of personal issues or changes in the group dynamic and not the content or level of ownership in sessions. Making these observations Adam says “behaviour management is important in schools and youth centres, the reasons for disruptive or challenging behaviour may be the same or different, either way you need to use behaviour management techniques like establishing ground rules or creating agreements with young people.”

What training has been useful? How has it helped?

“I’ve benefited from a lot of free training that has been tailored to my specific role. It’s all been crucial to me as I develop as a community musician; I feel more confident and capable through the knowledge I’ve gained and the skills I’ve developed.”

“I did some autism awareness training and literally the following week I was working with a young person with an autism spectrum disorder. Because of the training I was able to understand the young person’s needs and came up with solutions which enabled him to take part, this included using ear plugs to reduce noise levels in the room, adapting group activities so he could engage in a way which suited him and providing a choice of instruments in respect of tactile sensitivity and finding an instrument that felt ok to play.”

As part of Adam’s induction he shadowed sessions led by other music leaders and then gradually took on leadership of the group.

“Observing how sessions are delivered by experiencing community musicians has taught me the importance of planning and having a number of options up your sleeve. I can see that delivering with confidence and showing enthusiasm captures young people’s attention and helps to keep them engaged. Being decisive is critical, if you begin to dither and are unsure of the session’s direction, young people switch off and lose their belief in you; this can lead to disruptive behaviour.”

What skills and knowledge have been most useful when working with vulnerable young people?

“Knowing each young person’s background and needs is certainly useful, if not essential! It’s helped me understand why they might be acting in a certain way or reacting to a certain situation. It allowed for a massive breakthrough with one young person in particular, going from never interacting with the other young people and never picking up an instrument, to performing with the group week by week on a newly learned instrument and performing in front of an audience.”

At Switch It we provide the Lead Musician and Targeted YoutH Support Worker with referral forms before the young person joins the project, these forms provide details on young peoples musical interests and issues that they may have. The forms allow our staff to welcome young people to the project in a way that suits them, Adam says that although the information can be useful “being able to gauge a young person’s character and react accordingly without having a tainted view is important as well”. We both feel that it’s important to avoid having any preconceptions; we don’t want to put young people “in a box.”

Adam feels his communication skills and broad musical knowledge have also been very useful;

“My skills in working with and speaking to young people have really helped throughout this role as well. I find the young person are slowly becoming more and more relaxed around me making the sessions flow even better as time goes on. My musical knowledge is also key; I’m lucky enough to have had some great experiences growing up which has enabled me to become competent on a range of different instruments. This makes bouncing between different instruments in the session nice and easy.”

What have you learned from working alongside a Targeted Youth Support Worker?

“Our TYSW is an absolute life saver! I’ve learned so much from her over the past four months.

  • The importance of language, tone of voice and body language when diffusing a situation or encouraging participation

  • acknowledging young people’s progress by giving praise

  • getting to know young people through conversation, finding out their interests and building a relationship with them”

What advice would you give to someone who has experience of 1:1 tuition and is thinking of working in an informal setting like a youth centre?

“Do it!  It’ll be the best and most rewarding transition you’ll ever make.  I still thoroughly enjoy my 1:1 tuition but having a mixture of the two is also very nice.  Keeps things interesting.

My advice would be;

  • Accept and take on as much training as possible

  • If you get a chance to shadow or observe another music leader go for it! You get to see how a session can flow and how different music leaders have different approaches

  • If you can meet young people before your first session this can be really helpful even if it’s just a five minute conversation

  • Expect the unexpected! With 1:1 tuition you don’t have to think about how young people will interact with each other, group dynamics can create all kinds of situations and behaviour that you need to be prepared for

  • Be prepared to set ground rules and stick to them”

So there we have a brief outline of Adam’s journey from tuition to community music practice: the story so far! I hope sharing Adam’s experiences is useful, particularly for any practitioners who may be new to delivering in an informal setting. We’d be keen to hear from anyone out there who’s been on similar journey or who’d like to share thoughts around the theme.

Keep on grooving!

Talented Young North East Singers Offered Inspirational Singing Experience

More than 60 talented young singers from across the North East region including Newcastle, Tyneside, Northumberland, Durham, Darlington, Teesside and Sunderland, had the opportunity to experience being part of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain (NYCGB) early in February at a free event organised as part of Durham Vocal Festival. 

The singers aged between 11-14, were identified by their local Music Education Hubs for their vocal potential and put forward for the weekend with the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain (NYCGB) the UK’s leading organisation for youth choral music, which has its head office based in Durham.

Choirs from Tees Valley Music Service were part of the line up as performances from Tees Valley Youth Choir, Stockton Showstoppers, Barbershop and Tees Valley Youth Chamber Choir all performing at the Sage Gateshead on Saturday February 9th. 

 TVMS choirs received certificates from NYCGB for their performances.

The project is part of a wider collaboration between Durham Vocal Festival, NYCGB and the six North East Music Education Hubs aiming to help more of the regions talented young singers to fulfill their potential and be inspired to take their singing further, and forms part of NYCGB’s wider national programme of Learning and Engagement.

The Regional Festival of Music for Youth saw choirs from across the region perform in front of judges who were there to offer praise and constructive advice.

The festival weekend was made possible with the kind support of The Gillian Dickinson Trust, Durham Vocal Festival and the six Music Education Hubs: Durham & Darlington, Gateshead, Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Sunderland and Tees Valley Music Service. 

Young people singing

Mike Summers who managers Durham Music Service said: “This was an inspirational two days for the young people involved and also for the staff of the Music Education Hubs that came to the sessions.

“The standard of singing was exceptional and acted as a fantastic springboard to deeper progression routes for all the young people involved” Summers explained. “The National Youth Choirs of Great Britain are the pinnacle of youth singing in this country and it’s amazing that these young people were able to experience a ‘taster’ course. We are thrilled that once again this is part if Durham Tees Vocal Festival.”

 NYCGB holds auditions for its five choirs every year. For more information go to the NYCGB website here.

Further information about Durham Vocal Festival can be found here.

‘Youthquake’ – Inspiring Young People To Change The World

Youthquake is a 360-degree theatre experience from the award-winning Zest Theatre. The show is about being young and changing the world.

Youthquake

Developed through conversations with 800 young people from across the country, Youthquake uses their words and opinions to give voice to a generation often left unheard.

Part show, part TED talk, and part party, Youthquake takes you on an exhilarating journey through hidden lives of Teen Britain and asks what it actually means to change the world.

Youthquake has been inspired and developed with more than 500 young people from Tees Valley and 300 young people from elsewhere in the country – it is a celebration of the voices of young people across the region and beyond.

The group will perform have already performed at Hartlepool’s Centre for Excellence in Creative Arts (CECA) and will now move onto Middlesbrough Town Hall, ARC in Stockton-on-Tees, The Hippodrome in Darlington and will end their regional tour at Tuned In! in Redcar.

Youthquake in context

Discover the true extent of who Youthquake are in their Offical ‘Production Trailer’:

Supported through the National Lottery Public Fund and through Arts Council England, Youthquake is able to bring an incredible experience to young people for FREE.

Tees Valley Combined Authority chief executive, Julie Gilhespie said: “While the combined authority is driving economic growth and creating jobs, we can never lose sight of who we’re doing it for – our region’s young people. We need to give them the opportunities to be the best they can be and build a life for themselves in the region. To do this we must listen to what they are saying to tackle the issues which are important to them.

Youthquake

“Zest Theatre has been working with our teenagers to produce this fantastic show which is a meaningful and addition to our cultural calendar”, Gilhespie continued. “I’d urge teachers, teenagers and adults alike to get a ticket and support our young actors and their stories.”

Zest Theatre producer, Catherine Fowles said: “We’re so pleased to be bringing Youthquake ‘home’ to Tees Valley, having spent most of our time making and rehearsing the show here. Youthquake has been an incredibly transformative experience for everyone involved, from our team that conducted the initial workshops to the young people who have joined our casts across the country.”

Fowles also expressed excitement at the meeting and collaborating with young people in the region from all different backgrounds saying: “We can’t wait to be able to share some amazing experiences with our young casts in Tees Valley, all of the people we’ve met who have helped shape the show for the region, and the audiences who will hear their stories thanks to the support of Tees Valley Combined Authority.”

Dates and ticketing information for Youthquake performances are available on Enjoy Tees Valley’s website.

Youthquake

Music Production Courses Coming February Half-Term

Are you aged between 13 – 18? Or do you know someone who is and would like to get involved in music production?Music production

If you are, Musinc has a fantastic opportunity for you! On Tuesday 18th February, Wednesday 19th February and Thursday 20th February, Musinc will host a series of music production activities focused on recording music and using a professional studio.

Come along for 3 days of digital music activities led by experienced studio engineers. If you are a newcomer and have never enrolled on a music production course similar to this you will be given the chance to complete Grade 1. If you have previously attempted a previous course, you will complete Grade 3. Both Grades are accredited by Rock School.

No previous experience or knowledge necessary. Participants must attend all 3 days.

Each day will start at 10 am and end at 3 pm. The course will take place at Bluebridge Studios at Myplace in Middlesbrough.

This is a FREE event. To book contact musinc@middlesbrough.gov.uk or call 01642 728379.

Multi-million Pound Culture Boost For Children In Schools

£80 million for music hubs has been agreed by the Government, with further investment in film, dance, theatre and design expected in the coming months.  

Thousands more children will be able to learn instruments and play in orchestras or choirs thanks to a further £80 million investment by the Government in music hubs.

Alongside this investment, charities that help young people learn about different styles of music are also set to receive a further £1 million next year to support the next generation of musicians.

Pupils will also have more opportunities to put their film making skills to the test, explore museums or take to the stage, as a series of other cultural education programmes receive an additional £4 million funding boost next year.

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb has announced this multi-million pound package today (Friday 3rd January) alongside a manifesto commitment to offer an ‘arts premium’ to secondary schools to allow young people to learn creative skills and widen their horizons.

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb has said: “Music, arts and culture play an essential role in enriching pupils’ education, and we want to give as many young people as possible the opportunity to learn an instrument or perform in a choir or a band.

“Our sustained investment will play an important role in helping young people widen their horizons and access all the opportunities that learning a musical instrument can provide”, Gibb continued. “Whether your child wants to play for pleasure or to perform on stage, they should have the opportunity to do so.”

The curriculum schemes will receive a total of £85 million for 2020/21 are as follows:

  • Music Education Hubs
  • In Harmony
  • National Youth Music Organisations (NYMOs) and Music for Youth; and
  • Cultural education (Heritage schools, BFI Film Academy, Museums and Schools, ACE Bridge Network, National Youth Dance Company, Saturday Art and Design Clubs).

Music education hubs, which are organisations that give pupils access to instruments and support whole classes to play together, have transformed the teaching of music in schools through instrument lessons and ensembles.

These hubs have been supported by £300 million between 2016 and 2020, which forms part of an overall investment of £500 million in the arts during that period, making it the second highest funded element of the curriculum behind PE.

Hannah Fouracre, Director of Music Education for Arts Council England said: “We’re delighted that this funding from the Department for Education has been confirmed.

“These programmes support a creative, diverse and inclusive music education for children and young people across England.”

Music Education ‘Risks Being Outdated By Technology’

Music teaching could be left behind in an outdated acoustic age if it does not keep-up with technology, an in-depth report says.

Music Education

Too much music education does not reflect the reality of how young people engage with music, according to the inquiry from The Music Commission.

It says there is a risk this “disconnect” means current teaching methods may become outdated.

It argues technology could help stop music from disappearing from schools.

The commission, led by key figures in contemporary music and set up by Arts Council England and the Associated Boards of the Royal Schools of Music, says technology is evolving at a rapid rate.

From apps that allow users to compose digital music on smart phones to ‘teach yourself the guitar’ YouTube videos, the opportunities technology offers for learning, making and engaging in music are significant.

Low-cost tech 

The report says: “There is a danger that the “disconnect” between how young people use technology and music education may see current models of teaching rapidly becoming outdated.

Music Education“This is not about one replacing the other, but about bringing together the best in technology to work alongside and challenge acoustic music-making to create more relevant contemporary practice.”

It adds: “The current generation of music learners can explore any era or kind of music at any time.

“Technology allows them to access and merge ‘musics’ from any culture.”

The report highlights how technology has enabled young people to improvise together, access virtual teachers and challenge each other in digital spaces.

It adds that new technologies increasingly provide accessible, low-cost means to make and share music, and that it should be a central plank of music education. Furthermore, the accessibility and immediacy of such technology means young people can have a more fluid approach, with the old barriers between different types of music being broke down.

Pressures mount from unions

The report also says that the focus of music education should be ensuring every child is supported to take music further.

 A report by the Musicians’ Union last year suggested poorer children are being priced out of learning musical instruments.

Music Education

Children in low income households were half as likely to take music lessons, it found.

Commission chairman, Sir Nicholas Kenyon, who is managing director of the Barbican, acknowledged there was a host of pressures on schools to meet academic targets.

He said: “People of all ages now learn and enjoy a hugely diverse range of music in many ways – at home, in classrooms, in communities and online.

“However, we’re concerned that too much music education does not reflect the realities of how young people engage with music.”

Hartlepool School Pupils To Take Part In Children In Need Choir

Pupils from a number of primary schools in Hartlepool will come together as part of the national Children In Need Choir in an effort to raise money for children in less fortunate and very difficult lives.

The choir, which is set to be broadcast live on BBC One, will feature children from across the country.

In previous years the Children In Need Choir have sang ‘Over The Rainbow’ from the classic film ‘The Wizard of OZ‘ and performed ‘A Million Dreams’ from the hit musical ‘The Greatest Showman‘. It is unclear what song will be the highlight of this year’s Choir however, it is likely to be another emotionally driven performance.

The Hartlepool segment of the choir will take place in Hartlepool Town Hall.

Viewers can watch the Choir live on BBC One from 7pm on Friday 15th November.

To donate to Children In Need please visit their website and give whatever you can to help improve the lives of disadvantaged children up and down the country.

Opera Singer will Return to Teesside for Special Concert

Former TVMS pupil Anna Huntley, who has made her mark around the world for opera singing, will return to her Teesside roots and perform a special homecoming recital at Stokesley Methodist Church on Sunday 10th November.

Originally from Yarm, Miss Huntley started off her musical journey in Tees Valley Youth Orchestra before leaving to study at the Royal Academy of Music and then the Royal College of Music International Opera School. Throughout her years of study she has earned several prestigious awards that kicked off her operatic career.

During her many years of working and living in London, Anna has performed in major venues across the capital city, such as Wigmore Hall. She also performed over seas in many parts of Europe.

Anna Huntley performing at the University of Leeds.

Now residing in Berlin, Miss Huntley said she is looking for a chance to perform in her hometown again.

“I was very active in the musical life on Teesside when I was a student”, Huntley said speaking with Tees Valley Music Service. “I am so proud of my roots and the musical education I received there. If I can be a part of that in anyway with other young people now, I’d very much like to do that.

“I don’t often get the chance to sing back at home so it’s an honour and a real thrill. I love the chance to show family and friends and the region as a whole what I have been doing.”

A concert to remember

Huntley’s recital will explore ‘Women in Song’ and, accompanied by pianist Chris Glynn, will perform music from German composer Robert Schumann.

In an interview with The Northern Echo, Anna commented that the “programme is going to be an entertaining one. The first half will be Schumann’s recital which follows the tragic story of a woman who falls in love.

“The second half is much more light-hearted with music from Brazil, Portugal, Spain and Argentina. There will also be some old English folk songs thrown in which will be fun. There will be something in it for everybody.”

Watch Anna Huntley perform a piece by Kurt Weil in the video below:

Tickets are on sale now for her performance at Stokesley Methodist Church on Sunday 10th November at 7:15pm. Contact Julie Haigh on 01642 711618 for advanced tickets.

More information can be found on Teesside Music Society’s website.

BBC’s Songs of Praise Youth Choir of the Year Competition

The 2020 competition is now open for entries and aims to find the best amateur Young Choirs in the UK. It’s your chance to shine!

BBC Songs of Praise warmly welcome applications from youth, community, church, school and gospel choirs. In fact, any choir can enter as long as you’re of the right age (see Terms and Conditions below).

All choirs who submit an entry will receive feedback from the shortlisting judges, whether they go through to the televised part of the competition or not.

The finals will be filmed during Spring at a venue to be confirmed.

The Junior and Senior finalists will sing in front of the audience (including family and friends) and the television cameras!

How to enter

You can enter online, by email or post.

Please read the Terms and Conditions and tick on the form to confirm you have read them.

For the online entry form click here…

To enter by email download the entry form here and send it to sopcompetitions@avantimedia.tv 

To send the application by post download the entry form here and send it to “Songs of Praise Competitions (YCOTY) 114-116 Broadway, Media City UK, Salford, M50 2UW.

Entry date closes on Sunday 24th November 2019.

 

Audition for National Youth Choirs of Great Britain

National Youth Choirs of Great Britain (NYCGB) are holding auditions for the National Youth Boys’, Girls’ and Training Choirs of Great Britain this autumn.

If you have a passion and a talent for singing with others that you want to take to the highest level, then NYCGB would love to hear from you. There are 21 audition dates and 18 locations across the UK.

Auditions are open to all talented young singers as follows:

  • National Youth Boys’ Choir – for boys entering School Years 5 to 10 on 1st September 2019
  • National Youth Girls’ Choir – for girls entering School Years 6 to 10 on 1st September 2019
  • National Youth Training Choir – for boys & girls entering School Years 9 to 13 on 1st September 2019

Find out more and book a place to audition here.

NYCGB’s website provides lots of information about what’s required, and how to prepare.

Auditions are priced at £37. Financial assistance is available; find out if you qualify today.

Representatives of NYCGB will travel the country, hosting auditions for talented young people from all works of life.

Audition Dates & Locations 

  • Birmingham – Wednesday 13th November
  • Bristol – Monday 11th November
  • Cardiff – Saturday 2nd November
  • Carlisle – Saturday 16th November
  • Chelmsford – Sunday 10th November
  • Exeter – Saturday 2nd November
  • Edinburgh – Saturday 16th November
  • Gateshead – Thursday 14th November
  • Hull – Friday 15th November
  • Ipswich – Sunday 17th November
  • Leeds – Saturday 9th November
  • Liverpool – Saturday 16th November
  • London (Barnes) – Sunday 2nd & Sunday 3rd September
  • London (Marylebone) – Sunday 10th & Sunday 17th November
  • Nottingham – Sunday 3rd November
  • Peterborough – Saturday 9th November
  • Shrewsbury – Sunday 17th November
  • Southampton – Sunday 17th November
  • Tonbridge – Saturday 9th November