It ‘aPEERs’ to be effective – but for how long?



We are now in year 2 of a 4 year youth music funded project called Exchanging Notes, working with young musicians at Belvue school, Ealing developing peripatetic-style lessons.

Read more about Exchanging Notes here.

Project Recap:

  • The Young musicians have settled on an instrument of their choice after having instrument exploratory time over year 1
  • 30 minute 1:1 lessons are delivered weekly and now also some 2:1 lessons
  • The young musicians now have instruments to bring home, provided my Ealing Music Service and Drake Music
  • The young musicians have participated in 3 ensemble sessions to date as part of the project

What has changed?

One day at the beginning of the year, due to some timetable clashes, I paired up some pupils to ensure that they all had a lesson that day.

I observed that during some of the 2:1 sessions pupils seemed to be learning very quickly and fluently, teaching themselves, with my role then being a facilitator, rather than teacher.

I have been describing this as ‘a community music approach in education’, and it is working well.

What are the results?

After 5 months of 2:1 sessions, I am seeing some fantastic peer teaching and learning happening, with the young musicians working things out, showing confidence in their playing and seeing their general musicianship skills developing through having;

  • time
  • regular sessions
  • an instrument to play and practice on at home

The model I have developed seems to be very effective to date.

At the beginning of the project (most of Year 1), each pupil had individual time to settle in with their instrument in 1:1 lessons. They were then paired up with a fellow musician to play music together once some fundamentals were established such as;

  • holding the instruments
  • being comfortable
  • developing sounds and tones

Having this settling in time gave me a bit of an understanding of where each pupil was working at musically, with support from using the Sounds of Intent framework of musical development.

Although this model is effective for most of the musicians, it is not best for everyone.

Having tried it out with all 7 of the young musicians, I have found that some are more engaged and enjoy their 1:1 lessons more, responding more positively when having my full attention, and I have theirs, while other pupils will say they prefer having a session with their musical peer.

Where’s it going?

I think the peer sessions will continue to develop and I will continue with some 1:1 support lessons, which may happen every few weeks, to check in with each musician.

I think we could maybe work towards building in Drake Music’s excellent and accredited ‘Compose and Perform’ units in Performance Skills, which would be very relevant to the work the young musicians are doing.

All 7 of the young musicians have either told me that they enjoy performing, or I observe that they seem to be happy and comfortable when performing and often ask me when the next performance will be!

We need to build in more ensemble work and performances over the next 2 years.

What further support is required?

While this is an amazing project, and quite a unique opportunity for the pupils, now is the time to start thinking about what happens after this project finishes and the young musicians leave school.

Are we setting up something great, for it then to be all taken away?

Some young musicians may want to continue with further music education, taking lessons and playing with other musicians.

Are there any or many choices available?

Who will support the young musicians in continuing their journey with music in further education?

This surely is the start of another blog….



Leave a Reply