To increase Music Leaders’ skills and confidence in working with early years children in challenging circumstances

MLs have been at the heart of the Take Art EY team and have played a vital role in the planning, delivery and evaluation of the programme. The logistics of delivering sessions across three counties has been complex and success is reliant on experienced, knowledgeable and confident practitioners. When surveyed, all MLs agreed that both their skills and confidence had increased since being involved in the programme, in particular around facilitating meaningful musical play and planning for developing children’s musical skills.

All MLs had a strong desire to continually move forward in their learning to improve their practice. The experience of studying together on the CME:EC acted as a key anchor point for the MLs employed on The SoundWaves Network. A shared understanding of theoretical practice, coupled with a paired approach to delivery continued to build a positive community of learning. Building in time to explore, share ideas, repertoire and session structure at the beginning and end of the project (often with food!), as well as ongoing CPD opportunities, has meant MLs have felt supported by their peers and the Take Art team.

Working in pairs, the musicians were able to develop their practice through collaboration. Each ML was able to bring their complementary skills, knowledge, instrument skill set and repertoire. Used to working as sole freelancers, the opportunity to access mutual support throughout the sessions was felt to be invaluable. New collaborations, friendships and projects have begun as a result of the pairings.

The learning was a two-way process between MLs and EYPs. It was often reciprocal, with MLs gaining knowledge of the early years sector. From the setting’s perspective, the MLs not only brought their music knowledge and skills in delivery, but also shared their ideas, encouragement whilst constantly valuing the EYP input. The benefits of the programme for the children was due to the combined expertise and successful approach of both the MLs and the EYPs working together. The principle of the programme was that the practice should evolve in active partnership with the MLs’ and EYPs’ collaborations. Building on The Little Big Bang Report (Young, 2012), Take Art was mindful that all MLs involved in the programme were not viewed as specialists parachuted in to lead sessions, but rather as mentors who worked with EYPs in a sustainable fashion, embedding music into the culture of the Early Years setting. Work that develops from need and purposes set by those involved is more relevant, engaging and likely to be sustained.