Exchanging Notes is a Youth Music funded, 4 year project between Drake Music, Ealing Music Partnership and Belvue School, working with young people with SEND at KS3/4 with moderate or severe learning difficulties, and particularly those facing disabling barriers to music. Birmingham City University are undertaking a longitudinal evaluation of the work and supporting the project using an action research approach.
My role as music leader in this project entitled ‘Rhapsody in Ealing’ is to create and deliver a new model of peripatetic music lessons to 7 young musicians with SEND at Belvue Special School, Ealing.
I met with the young musicians for the first time on 11th November and was introduced to them by their classroom music teacher, Steven Lee. The initial 30-minute sessions with each of the young musicians was designed to find out their basic likes/dislikes of different instruments, sounds and musical styles. We played some percussion, drum kit, guitar and sang together with the main aim being to find out how each of the young musicians communicate. I found that some are using different levels of verbal language, PECS and also Makaton to support communication, and as each pupil communicates in their own individual way, they will also express themselves musically in different ways. I find this really interesting, how each person engages with music, instruments and people in different ways.
I spent the first 5 weeks making base line assessments using the Sounds of Intent framework and introducing different instruments. I then reflected on each of the young musician’s musical engagements, choices and communication needs, and used this information along with some invaluable input from teachers Steven and Mike at Belvue School to help create an individual musical development plan for each young musician, which I will begin using this term. I envisage that the musical development plans will evolve and develop throughout the project, but for now it gives me a good starting point as the music leader and I am hoping it will help me to:
- Support the communication requirements/needs of the young musician.
- Identify and log what stage of musical development the young musician is currently at.
- Identify what additional accessible resources and syllabus to use e.g. RockSchool/ABRSM, enlarged notation, numbers, flash cards etc.
I will continue to video each music lesson, for reflection and evaluation, using the Youth Music Quality framework as support. The videos are uploaded and archived weekly onto the school network by Steven and will be accessible to teaching staff. These videos also provide reliable evidence that can support my musical assessments made using the Sounds of Intent framework.
I have had excellent support and flexibility from all involved to ensure a positive start for the young musicians and I look forward to seeing the project develop this year.