The SoundWaves Network 2018-2021

An Early Childhood Music Programme

The SoundWaves Network is an Early Years (EY) Music Network delivering in the South West, with a concentration of activity in three Music Education Hub (MEH) areas: Somerset, Bristol and Plymouth. The overarching aim has been to strengthen regional Early Childhood (EC) music practice. Central to the programme’s outcomes have been expanding a tried and tested model of high-quality provision that combines delivery, continuing professional development (CPD) and networking. Supported by Youth Music and MEHs, The SoundWaves Network grew out of two previous Youth Music programmes.

The Intended Outcomes 

Our funders, Youth Music, asked us to take an outcomes approach to our programme. This approach was designed to help us plan and evaluate our activities and to measure the impact of our interventions. This section will share information on our five intended outcomes with links to video and photographs. 


  • EYPs have found that spontaneous musical interactions are already happeningin their settings, their increase in skills, confidence and experience now means these interactions are now valued and interpreted in new ways
  • The programme has therefore enabled the adults to listen and value children’s own ways of being musical and recognise these characteristics as part of early childhood development. 
  • EYPs have been empowered with strategies and ideas for interacting with their children in musically playful ways
  • The ongoing challenges that the EY workforce faces including: staff wellbeing, recruitment, finances, Covid-19, child poverty, parental engagement and supporting learning gaps make for a complex backdrop to delivery
  • The CPD programme has proved to be an effective way of engaging practitioners and significantly increasing their confidence to deliver high quality music as part of their daily routine
  • Children have gained a sense of joy from developing and exploring musical play, new instruments and resources with willing and ready musical play partners
  • Children have felt valued in their own right, their own contributions however small have been recognised, many have found their voice for the first time in their settings
  • MLs have welcomed the opportunities for collaboration and feel they belong to a vibrant and positive learning community
  • Co-delivery for all staff (MLs & EYs) has created learning opportunities for both those leading and carrying out observations
  • Capturing on video and spending time reflecting on practice, continues to be a highly effective tool to aid understanding of children’s development
  • The involvement, engagement and advice from LA staff has been key to grounding the projects in their localities, acting as well-respected advocates within and beyond their sector
  • MLs continue to face a challenges to employment and participation as settings open up post lockdown which could affect their practice for months to come
  • The partnerships with HE/FE and CREC CME:EC have been an effective way of keeping up to date with best practice, creating opportunities to grow the EY music workforce
  • Every setting has improved its musical environment, spaces have become more enabling, with a richer variety of instruments, provocations and evidence-based approaches 
  • The wider strategic partnerships, across the South West, established during The SoundWaves Network have the potential to be cemented into future programmes building and expanding to reach more musicians, practitioners and children


Burke, N. (2013). The Use of Recorded Music in Early Childhood Settings. MA, Birmingham City University. 

Burke, N. (2017). Tune into Listening. Accessed

Department for Education (2017). Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage: Setting the standards for learning, development and care for children from birth to five.  

Pitt, J. & Arculus, C. (2018). SALTMusic Research Report. 

Young, S. (2012). The Little Big Bang Report. Somerset: Take Art Ltd.

Download SoundWaves Network Report 2018-2021