Take Art's Early Years Music Practitioner delivering 'Soundwaves Extra' The Early Years Music Network for the South West at St Peter's C of E Primary School F/S Unit, Budleigh Salterton, Devon.

What are the goals of the work?
How does it fit into the ethos of the school/setting?

The goals of the work are to offer high quality, effective music provision that can be experienced and shared between carers, practitioners and young children. The work is characterised by developmentally appropriate musical activities. The focus is on arriving at principled and practical suggestions for parents and practitioners of the role of music in the upbringing of very young children.

How does it fit into the learning strategy of the school/setting?

The learning strategy seeks to…

  • improve the musical , communicative and emotional development of young children through building practitioner and parental confidence in music making with their children.
  • encourage contact between parent and child to support bonding;
  • improve the self esteem and sense of achievement in all involved, adults and children;
  • connect professionals in the early years sector who are working in a rural environment;
  • provide access to high quality music education with low travel time in rural areas; and
  • work alongside practitioners and parents in order to help them (i) recognise musical behaviours in children's everyday world and (ii) raise awareness of what appropriate musical provision in early years can like. There is also an opportunity to question ideas about what counts as music.

How does it fit into the curriculum of the school/setting?

The programme is part of the overall curriculum by offering opportunity to…

  • rethink the way that music can be “taught”, whilst
  • supporting all areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage.

What outcomes are being explicitly targeted?

Targeted outcomes include:

  • A heightened awareness of children's own music making, leading to a stronger appreciation of the abilities and potentials which young children bring;
  • Sensitised understanding of what a young child knows, and can do, rather than determining a curriculum that is based on what we (as adults) feel children should know;
  • A recognition that we should not hear children's music as purely a precursor to adult music;
  • An understanding of how to value children's music as musical and on its own terms.
  • Parents and EY Practitioners understand , notice and celebrate the music that children create; and
  • EY Practitioners / other music leaders who are keen to learn more about effective Early Years' music practice become more skilled.

What is the context of the work

Jane Parker & Soundwaves Extra


  • The project is based at St Peter's Foundation Stage Unit in St Peter's School, Budleigh Salterton, Devon ( http://www.st-peters-school.org.uk/parents/foundation-stage-unit/ ). This is considered to be a very good early years (EY) setting that is part of the local EY network and is viewed as a beacon of high quality practice. The Unit works with surrounding settings, the Children's Centre, Devon Early Years Advisory Team and Family Support Workers. The school is also a teaching centre for initial teacher education (PGCE) students from nearby Exeter University.
  • The project has now become part of a new Youth Music-funded project “SoundWaves Extra”, an EY music network for the South West and part of the arts development organisation Take Art.
  • The project, through its professional development focus, will also include the surrounding EY settings in rural locations – including pre-schools, toddler groups, PVI (private, voluntary and independent) settings and their outreach family work; and the Exmouth and District Children's Centres who work with families across a large region in East Devon, including Littleham – an area that sits in the top 1/5th in the IMD (Index of Multiple Deprivation in England 2015) ranking.

Age of students

  • 0–5 nursery, reception and SEND

Number of students

  • Directly 60; indirectly through CPD and parents, over 100.

Does the example fit into longer term plan or is it 'stand-alone'

  • The project is part of a longer-term strategic plan that includes deep, targeted intervention.
  • The intention is to explore how high quality, professional early years music provision can become more embedded in the work of music Hubs.
  • The design is to use practice to root case studies and learning.
  • The project and location are supported by Devon Music Education Hub ( http://www.dmeh.org ) as a small satellite music centre (Otter Music Collective) for music at Key Stages 1 and 2.
  • The organisational structure has the potential for long-term engagement.
  • It also offers a model for a possible training/development programme as part of an emerging trend towards Early Years' music in the National Plan for Music Education (DfE, 2011).

Who is leading the work

The work is being led by Take Art's Jane Parker ,working alongside Lisa Broad, an outstanding Lead Nursery Teacher. Currently the project is part of SoundWaves Extra, the Early Years Music Network for the South West led by Take Art ( http://www.takeart.org ).

What is the content of the work?

Musical content

The musical content of the work has the following features:

  • The provision of access to wide variety of sounds and high quality musical instruments;
  • Play and exploration alongside significant adults;
  • Children and adults listen to, and are encouraged to play and join in with, singing, vocal play and instrumental music;
  • A flexible project introduction through a suggestion of possible activities, which include (for example) moving, voice play, throwing scarves, and hiding;
  • Opportunities to express feeling and ideas through music making;
  • A mixture of adult- and child-led activities;
  • Adults work alongside children musically during free-play and continuous provision; and
  • There is a building of musical repertoire.

Social Content

  • Children are encouraged to follow and develop their own lines of exploration and enquiry.
  • The Music Leader seeks to be attuned to the needs of the group and individuals and adjusts the activities accordingly.
  • Positive relationships are encouraged through sustained, shared music making.

What are the key features of the teaching and learning approach?

Key features of the teaching and learning approach are:

  • Modelling musical behaviour to staff at the same time as enabling and empowering the same staff's musical progression throughout the setting at different points in their journey;
  • Creating positive relationships through music making;
  • Allowing children to follow their own, unique musical learning journeys;
  • Supporting adults to support children musically;
  • A musician in residence; and
  • Enabling music by staff through support and mentoring.

How is the work being reviewed?

The work is reviewed by collating data from a variety of sources. These include:

  • Weekly reflection through video capture of children's musical behaviours;
  • The collecting of vignettes and building on these through discussion and group reflection;
  • Evidence of awareness through conversations;
  • Collating the number and range of incidents, with progression examples from specific children;
  • Recognition and curiosity, inclusion of music development in record keeping;
  • Photos and video sent home to parents, which are then discussed;
  • Case studies;
  • Feedback;
  • Numbers attending the sessions;
  • Levels of satisfaction recorded; and
  • The take-up of mentoring opportunities.

What are the positive outcomes for children/young people – are they some or all of musical, social, personal, educational - how and when can they be identified?

  • Musical behaviours are celebrated and recognised in young children, and additionally identified through captured reflections of parents and carers.
  • Positive changes in personal wellbeing are identified through stories around the children from parents and staff and observations, such as increased smiles and laughter.
  • There are observed and reported heightened positive relationships between parents and children.
  • The project supports a move towards better learning environments that are more responsive to children's learning and identified through staff feedback.

What are the key features of teacher/leader behaviour that are enabling those positive outcomes?

Key pedagogic behaviours include…

  • Being tuned in and able to respond playfully in the moment and to follow children's leads;
  • Being tuned into and aware of the whole group, including the adults;
  • Being able to track everyone in the room in the moment;
  • Being able to reflect in-practice as well as after-practice;
  • Applying a skilled awareness of what children's music looks like;
  • Respect for children, parents and practitioner;
  • Being ambitious, with a commitment to effectiveness in it's many and varied forms; and
  • A broad understanding of young children's cognition and behaviours, and Early Years research.

What are the key features of context, content and activities that are enabling those positive outcomes?

  • There is a commitment to extending the learning and undergoing constant evaluation about how best to share the learning beyond music specialists to Eraly Years' setting staff, parents and future Music Leaders.
  • There is cross arts working.
  • Positive relationships with other organisations are also seen as important.

What other factors in this case are contributing to those positive outcomes?

  • There is vision and expertise of the organisations involved in making projects happen and making them sustainable.
  • Key people demonstrate excellent practitioner knowledge of the sector.

How replicable or adaptable is it?

  • It is replicable with similar levels of vision and leadership.
  • It requires a particular way of working that is very specific and sensitive to the needs and development of young children and how they make sense of their world, but absolutely replicable.
  • SoundWaves Extra is currently exploring the ways in which this highly effective music practice in EY can become sustainable through professional development.

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