Exchanging Notes: A Musical Adventure in Ealing

Drake Music are lucky to be one of ten organisations that are part of Youth Music’s Exchanging Notes programme.

Each Exchanging Notes project (a partnership between a school and specialist music provider) works with young people at risk of low attainment, disengagement or educational exclusion to see how participation in regular music-making activities can enable achievement of musical, educational and wider outcomes.

Over a four year period, Birmingham City University will be undertaking a longitudinal evaluation of the work and supporting the projects using an action research approach.

Our project, is called ‘A Rhapsody in Ealing: a four year musical adventure’ and is delivered in partnership with Belvue school and Ealing Music Partnership.

Image: photo of Gary Day smiling, in front of musical score graphicDrake Music Associate Musicians Gary Day and Ben Sellers have been delivering the project, sharing their learning and reflecting throughout the year using Drake Music’s blog.

Year one comprised peripatetic teaching, curriculum support, and training with other schools in Ealing; we will be building on this work in years 2, 3, and 4.

As we come to the end of the first year of delivery we have looked back on our successes and challenges, which have resulted in key learning points.



1) Peripatetic teaching using the Sounds of Intent framework:

This project is the first time that Drake Music has delivered a long-term delivery model of peripatetic teaching using the Sounds of Intent framework to track musical progression.

We have been so pleased with its success that we will now be rolling it out as part of our wider strategic programme in other regions.

The Sounds of Intent framework is used to track and demonstrate the musical progress of the young people involved in the project.

The framework is divided into three areas (or ‘segments’): Reactive, Proactive and Interactive. Each segment is then divided into 6 levels with four elements within it.

During the peripatetic sessions, each lesson is recorded, reviewed, and the data is put into the Sounds of Intent framework. This allows Gary Day to assess the musical progression of each young person individually, something which can be tricky when not delivering a specific musical curriculum.

Gary Day observed in his latest blog:

‘Using the Sounds of Intent framework helps me to get a really good sense of each learner’s musical interactions during the lesson. I can highlight something positive musically about every learner and back it up with the framework, video footage and my assessment.’

The peripatetic lessons have not only evidenced musical outcomes, but also wider developmental outcomes as Shelagh O’ Shea, the headteacher at Belvue School observed:

‘I don’t think we can underestimate just how much of an impact the peripatetic sessions have had on these pupils. It is such a luxury to have that one-on-one time, to notice a person supports and helps develop their emotional intelligence and the wellbeing of an individual…in terms of confidence, self-awareness and abilty to learn… a large amount of that can be attributed to the peripatetic sessions’

2) Communicate, communicate, then communicate some more!

We have had an excellent relationship with the school and teachers during this project. This has been primarily due to the lead-in time of half a term, where we had a number of INSET presentations, many meetings, and a lot of time deciding how the project would logistically work.

Of course, we all know the importance of partners investing in the project and project set-up, but our Exchanging Notes experience has really reinforced the power of building a relationship with the whole school, including the receptionist, head teacher, music teacher and class teachers.

3) Formal and non-formal goals, and quality framework

Through the delivery of curriculum support sessions with the music co-ordinator over a long period of time, we have found that the Youth Music Quality Framework has been an invaluable tool for planning and reflection and has helped balance formal and non-formal outcomes, delivery and assessment.

Ben’s first blog post noted:

ben sellers_300square‘As I reflect on the first term of our ‘Rhapsody in Ealing’ project, I see that the various ways different practitioners and organisations work, with their contrasting dynamics, phrasing, intent and movement, have easy comparisons in music. Finding a strong, sustainable balance between them is key to our success.’

By the end of the year, due to the length of the project, the support of the school, and Steven and Ben’s expertise, both agreed that they had found the correct balance.  Steven Lee states:

‘Ben and I have been getting on famously! We work really well in the mornings, discuss what is and isn’t working, and prepare the resources before the session which has been really helpful’

Following our positive experience of using the Youth Music Quality Framework for reflection, planning, and co-delivery, we are now discussing adapting and tailoring it for our organisation. We then plan to share this with the wider sector.

Watch out for more blogs this coming academic year as our Exchanging Notes programme continues!