Exchanging Notes: Music Outside the Classroom, Part 2


Our theme in the final term of Exchanging Notes at Belvue School is “music outside the classroom”: exploring different ways of making music, and how the young musicians involved can seek out opportunities after the project ends.

Guest musicians Cassie and Jo leading young musicians in a vocal workshop during the woodland project.

Alongside our regular music classes in recent weeks, we have played in a gamelan session at Southbank Centre, learned to conduct and devise pieces with James Rose, discussed community music and ways of getting started with guest associate musicians Cassie Gurling and Jo-Anne Cox, turned the woodland behind the school into a performance space with custom instruments, and performed pieces for other young musicians at a local primary school as part of our collaboration with Ealing Music Service.

This week several young musicians are starting work towards Arts Award certificates, which we hope will help with recognition of the peer teaching and individual expression that have developed during our one-to-one and small group sessions (see Gary Day’s reflections in Year 2 here).  Through the Arts Award, participants are asked to attend a performance, speak about a musician who inspires them, and deliver a short activity where they will share an activity.  So far we have started planning bass lessons for fellow students and teachers, leading vocal exercises, and creating demonstration videos for some of the technology we’ve used (and made!) over the last couple of years. You can find out more about the Arts Award in an SEN context through this recent Drake Music webinar.

We’ve also started uploading some of the results of the project to SoundCloud, which can be heard below.. at present this is a highly eclectic mix of pop music and experimental journeys from our woodland sessions!

An outdoor session in the school’s woodland area, setting up pressure mats with the battery powered switch box.

The group of musicians in post-16 have continued work on a battery-powered accessible sampler to be used in music classes (more information here), and have set themselves the challenge to make a smaller, low budget version that they can take with them to continue playing independently. 

Here are some highlights from our latest development session, in which we started looking at the layout, and transferred some loops created in GarageBand to play without the iPad:

I’ll be recording our progress here on the Drake Music blog for the rest of the school year – keep reading for more about the challenges we have faced, stories from our woodland and gamelan projects, and feedback from the young musicians and teachers involved..