Early years music project comes to Birmingham

Young children and families set to benefit from exciting music project for early years educators and musicians.

Birmingham Forward Steps and a group of consortium partners has been awarded £149,000 by the charity Youth Music to support music in children’s early years.

Over the next two years (2019-2021) the project, called Sounds of Play, aims to improve music provision for birth to five-year olds and their families.

The project will offer a range of professional development opportunities for teachers and practitioners in early years settings, and musicians from a wide range of music organisations.

Sarah Robbins, chief executive of the Springfield project, leading partner of the project for Birmingham Forward Steps said:

“Birmingham Forward Steps is delighted to have the opportunity to bring this comprehensive early years music programme to the city.

“Music is a fantastic tool for supporting children to develop well and it also has the power to enrich lives. In this music-rich city it is only right that our youngest children have opportunities for music making and it is an honour that so many of the city’s musical institutions are joining us to make this a reality.

“Thank you to Youth Music for their support in bringing Sounds of Play to life.”

The Birmingham Early Years Music Consortium (BEYMC) project aims to help provide a more co-ordinated music delivery for children, bringing together Birmingham early years settings together with a wide range of music organisations (see below).

The BEYMC will be working with a wide range of settings including children’s centres; maintained nurseries; and private, voluntary and independent settings. The BEYMC project is supported by Youth Music and will be using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Youth Music chief executive Matt Griffiths said:

“Children’s lives in music-making must start as soon as possible. The evidence is overwhelming in terms of the positive difference this makes for their own personal, social and musical development and for their families too.

“That’s why early years is one of our priority areas at Youth Music. We are therefore delighted to award a grant to the new ‘Sounds of Play’ project in Birmingham, which will provide innovative resources and a vital support network for early years teachers and music leaders to develop their practice, work collaboratively and learn from each other.

“If there’s ever been a more important time for this, it’s definitely now. We’re excited to be a part of it.”

The partners in the consortium, will be working with newly appointed project manager Nicola Burke to focus on training their own practitioners in early years music, impacting the work of teachers, practitioners and musicians. The whole project is being evaluated by the Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC).

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra director of learning and engagement Lucy Galliard said:

“The CBSO is delighted to be part of this programme. We believe that it is never too early to begin engaging with live music, performance and creative music making.

“The ‘Sounds of Play’ programme is a fantastic way to enable more children to benefit from musical activities, and to provide Birmingham’s diverse musical workforce with the support and training they need to ensure that even our youngest participants are receiving the very best musical opportunities available.

Welsh National Opera director of partnerships and engagement Emma Flatley commented:

“Welsh National Opera is delighted to be part of Sounds of Play and welcomes the opportunity to work collectively with fellow music organisations and early years practitioners across Birmingham, to give young children a chance to benefit from the transformative power of music and song. The funding from Youth Music will help us work together to support the opportunity to access music education from birth, an important component in language skills and cognitive development; whilst providing valuable resources and training for opera professionals who deliver Welsh National Opera’s Youth and Community programme across the West Midlands.

The project will be launched at the CBSO Centre, Birmingham on 7 October, 2-3.30 pm. The launch event is aimed at those who will be involved in the project; EY practitioners, musicians, partner organisations as well as other organisations in the West Midlands who have an interest in Early Years Music.

Anyone who would like to find out more information is encouraged to email project manager Nicola Burke.

Please follow the project on Twitter.

Additional information

Partners in the consortium:

Birmingham City Council
Birmingham Community Healthcare
Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
Birmingham Nursery Schools Teaching Schools Alliance
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Centre for Research in Early Childhood
Early Years Alliance
Mac Makes Music
Quench Arts
Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
The Springfield Project
Services for Education
St Paul’s Community Development Trust
Welsh National Opera

Overall Project Aim:
To develop a sustainable network of early years music practice between early years services and music organisations to support children’s musical entitlement across Birmingham through a range of workforce development.

The planned outcomes are to:
1. strengthen the relationship between the local music organisations and early years services across Birmingham;
2. increase music making within EY Services across Birmingham;
3. improve Birmingham EY practitioner’s knowledge and understanding of early childhood music;
4. develop and strengthen the knowledge and understanding of music practitioners about the EYFS and the characteristics of effective learning;
5. develop the partners’ understanding of what families need to engage in music making in sessions and at home.

About Youth Music
Sounds of Play is supported by Youth Music, a national charity investing in music-making projects that help children and young people develop personally and socially, as well as musically. Youth Music work particularly with those who don’t get to make music because of who they are, where they live, or what they’re going through. Young people take the lead in choosing what and how they want to learn, making music of every style and genre.
Youth Music’s work is funded by the National Lottery via Arts Council England. This enables us to support more than 350 music-making projects each year, reaching 89,000 children and young people aged 0-25. But we know there’s more to do. Right now, we can only invest in about 40% of the projects applying to us for funding. We’re very grateful to People’s Postcode Lottery and the other trusts, foundations, companies and individuals who donate and fundraise to help us provide even more music-making opportunities. www.youthmusic.org.uk