Singing makes your inner life audible – it’s a way of expressing what you can’t speak with words and an expression of your inner feelings and longings that otherwise may not be articulated… – Chloe Goodchild, The Naked Voice
Our vision is that all children have the opportunity to experience the creative and connecting power of making music. Music helps us access our innermost feelings, unites communities and promotes togetherness, connection and shared experience.
Earthsong Music gives children the chance to discover their unique musical voice through inclusive access to joyful and inspiring music education.
Life has an inside as well as an outside. Playing music is more than recreation; through music children find confidence and happiness unrelated to money or social status. In a world where success is measured by what you can buy, many children feel left out or shut out. Music is inclusive. Music works across culture, across class, across language. It seems to be hard wired into humans. Music is spontaneous, and with some teaching music can enrich children’s lives forever.Jeanette Winterson, CBE
Inclusion underpins the Earthsong approach. Given the current huge crisis in school music teaching and that most families cannot afford private music instrument lessons, Earthsong prioritises access to free music education in primary school settings. We begin with singing as learning to internalize music and understand musical language through singing gives young children the confidence and strong foundation necessary to take up instruments and keep going once they start.
Our first large scale funding initiative is the 5 year Earthsong Music programme which began in September 2019 in 13 Bristol Primary schools in collaboration with the Bristol music hub, Bristol music Trust at the Bristol Beacon.
Two whole class years of the specially devised Start with Singing and Start with Playing syllabus teaches the language of music through songs and games. This gives children the confidence and musical understanding to benefit from a further 3 years of small group instrument lessons. We are currently in Year 3 of the programme with 3 year groups now participating throughout 13 Bristol schools.
The Earthsong programme is unique in discovering the individual voice in every child. Everyone is encouraged to sing by themselves and develop a sense of pitch and musicianship. The children’s sense of achievement is tangible and they truly see themselves as young musicians. The sense of excitement and anticipation of the next lesson is always evident and children are hugely supportive of their peers as they listen to each other.Kirsten Cunningham, Schools Coordinator, Bristol Beacon
I know first-hand from a lifetime of music just what joy it brings. It’s good for mental health, for learning, but most of all for the sheer enjoyment it brings to listen and to create. Every child should have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument and I’m thrilled that Bristol Music Trust and Earthsong are bringing this life-enhancing opportunity to thousands more of Bristol’s children and showing national leadership.Thangam Debbonaire, MP for West Bristol
We are really excited to have partnered with the Creative Learning and engagement team at the Bristol Beacon on the 5 year Earthsong music programme which was launched in September 2019 in 13 primary schools in Bristol. We take Whole Class Ensemble Teaching WCET ( the government provision for music teaching in primary schools ) and reshape it in ways we believe will lead to higher levels of musicianship and high continuation rates of music learning.
Devised by music practitioner Nonny Tabbush the programme begins in Key Stage 1. Continued Evaluation is taking place in a longitudinal study carried out by Sound Connections which tracks the impact of the programme on the musical development, confidence and social skills.
Find out more about the Earthsong Music programme on Bristol Plays Music
The Earthsong project provides an excellent opportunity for schools in Bristol across the board to access music. The Earthsong project levels the playing fields, enabling children from all backgrounds to access instrumental tuition.
The Start with Singing syllabus uses songs and games to teach children to pitch and internalise song, as well as teaching musical terms and providing a solid foundation of musical understanding. This makes learning an instrument more accessible and sustainable.
In the Start with Playing syllabus in year 2 of the programme the children draw upon everything they have learnt in their Start with Singing year, extending their learning and transferring that knowledge to as many different instrument families as possible. This culminates in a class band grand finale, where they experience the texture of layering different musical ideas, using instruments on which they have been taught basic skills throughout the year.
In years 3-5 of the programme children can pick an instrument to learn in small group lessons and to take home for practise. A music club in the Earthsong schools gives all children in school year 4 upwards the chance to continue with musical songs and games with access to all the instruments they tried in their Start with Playing year.
Earthsong provides an excellent foundation for musical understanding through songs and games. The children enter the classroom with excitement, and teachers have commented that their classes look forward to their music lessons each week with great enthusiasm! – Nonny Tabbush (Music Practitioner and Syllabus author)
Participating schools in the Earthsong Programme are diverse in terms of the proportion of pupils with special education needs or disability (SEN/D), who are BAME, speak English as an additional language or are eligible for free school meals/pupil premium. They include schools where the large majority of pupils are BAME.
Inclusion strategies include: