Rhapsody in Ealing: Ramping it up in collaboration with Ealing Music Services

A young musician from Belvue School performs at a guest workshop/sharing at Mandeville.

As part of the four year Youth Music funded Exchanging Notes project, we’ve been collaborating with Ealing Music Services to deliver two Ramp it Up projects in local primary schools.

This has been a valuable opportunity to draw upon work on co-delivery from Belvue School (our “home” school for the project), and open a new dialog with Nigel D’Souza, EMS’s new lead on working with specialist schools in the area.

Finding out where music takes place in the school – some non-specialist teachers were surprised to realise how much they already using singing and musical activities!
EMS tutor Nigel, showing off our range of “pads”! This is a technique originally developed in Belvue School, where young musicians are given the opportunity to try out ideas with their whole body before moving to a smaller instrument. It’s proved to be very popular in other schools within and outside the project.
Staff at Mandeville demonstrate crossover between physical activities and use of switches and the iPads in a music session.

As well as making sure teachers are confident with the range of instruments and technology available to them within the school, we’ve been trying to ensure that the young musician’s voices are present in this process: bringing in ideas from ensembles and one-to-one sessions taking place in Belvue School, and creating opportunities to perform and discuss their achievements and challenges with their peers in other schools.

Video screenshot from the Mad Pad app, which we used to document sessions in Castlebar School.

Continuing our theme of “music outside the classroom” in this final year of the project, some of our young musicians from Belvue have come to participate in end of term sharing events – with some emotional surprises as two people found themselves meeting previous teachers in their old primary schools!

Here are programmes from both sharing events, aimed to be accessible to both staff and young musicians in the schools (please click for full size images):


Programme from Mandeville School sharing

Activities from Castlebar morning sessions


Programme from sharing at Castlebar School


EMS tutor feedback

We caught up with Nigel at the end of term, and discussed a few of the highlights of the project:

What kind of barriers did you encounter to delivering music sessions in an SEN/D setting before the project, or perhaps what did you need to know starting in your new role at EMS? How did we address them?

My biggest barrier was not having the experience to know what music provision there was for the children’s different needs, and what instruments/equipment could be used to enable the children to access music. 

What were the challenges you felt we encountered along the way as a co-delivery partnership?

One main challenge was working on a programme that differed to a mainstream music project. I had to get to know the children’s abilities to ensure that they were able to participate but were also challenged. We addressed this by having feedback time after each session with the teachers, who were able to confirm to what extent the children were engaged.  

What kind of differences did you observe between this project and other (perhaps more “conventional”) approaches?

The biggest difference was the expectation of what the children could achieve. This had to be worked out as each session developed, and sometimes the best approach was to follow where the children wanted to go with their music making. This was challenging, as the end result sometimes didn’t fit in with the conventional idea of music making.

How has your practice changed as a result of our co-delivered sessions? 

My practice had changed in that I am more inclined to wait and see where the children want to go with music making. As a primary school music teacher, I am used to being more directive and fitting in set objectives within the hour lesson. This approach doesn’t necessarily work in a class where the children’s abilities vary to a great degree. Periods of silence are challenging in a music lesson!

Were there any key moments that you’d like to highlight?

A great moment was when secondary pupils came to perform for the primary school pupils. It was wonderful to see how empowering it was for secondary school pupils to perform to primary pupils and realise that they were musical role models.

And finally..some music!

You can listen to a performance by one of the guest musicians from Belvue School below: