The National Conversation formed part of the Note Weavers Talking Regions project which was funded by Youth Music and involved regional organisations from across England coming together to talk about early years music practice and provision. Now that this phase is complete, Note Weavers CIC would like to share the evaluation report written by Sally-Anne Brown.
Note Weavers Directors Georgina and Sorrel have been delivering a series of music sessions, working on behalf of Bolton Libraries and Museums Service. The family sessions were for early years children, and children with special educational needs and disabilities and were located at Bolton Museum and Smithills Hall.
All the sessions had a multi-sensory focus and incorporated musical games and activities, as well as giant scrunchies, scarves, lycra and soft toys, sensory balls, stories and musical instruments. Different rooms in the venues were used depending upon the needs of the children and their families.
Georgina and Sorrel had a fantastic time working with all the children and their families. A big shout out to Jacinta Frank and Charlotte Higham at Bolton Libraries and Museums Service for inviting us to deliver the sessions.
Feedback from families on the sessions was positive:
“The sessions were fantastic. It was great to be a part of something so inclusive where my child could express himself. Georgina tailored the sessions to fit the children who were attending and made sure they were engaged and happy. Since attending these sessions my son has seemed more confident and can often be heard singing the songs from sessions”.
“We loved it. My son can be difficult to engage, but he took part throughout”.
Charlotte Higham, Library Access Officer at Bolton Central Library said:
“The children who attended the sessions thoroughly enjoyed them and it was lovely to see the children who were reticent at the beginning of the session, fully joining in with the musical activities by the end.”
Over the past few months Note Weavers Directors Sally-Anne Brown, Vic Holmes and Zoe Greenhalgh have greatly enjoyed working with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra’s Digital and Learning team to develop their Musical Story of the Gingerbread Man, a short film for children with a series of associated activities for early years and key stage 1 settings.
Recorded at the recently renovated Queen’s Park Bandstand in Heywood the film features the Orchestra’s Early Ears Trio and is narrated by Radio 5 Live’s Nihal Arthanayake, and is scheduled for broadcast by CBeebies on Saturday 5th March 2022. It is also available to view via the BBC iPlayer:
To accompany the film the Note Weavers team have devised and written a range of activities and downloadable resources to support music delivery in Early Years and Key Stage 1 settings which are freely available via the BBC website
We hope you find these resources useful and welcome your comments via our social media channels:
Children’s Librarian & Early Childhood Music Specialist
Saturday 14 May 2022,
Online, 09.30-11.00 £15
Picture books are some of the most useful and powerful tools for engaging children in the Early Years. This highly practical session led by Children’s Librarian and Early Childhood Music Specialist, Ben Lawrence will explore ways to combine songs and rhymes with picture books to engage and inspire young children. Find out top tips and discover different ways to bring stories alive through music and song and enable a positive experience of key musical concepts.
In this session Ben will be exploring the magical world of picture books and sharing stories with young children:
- Strategies for sharing stories in different ways
- How using pictures books can help embed music learning within early years provision
During the session there will be an opportunity to work in small groups, so please bring along your favourite picture books to share.
This session is suitable for all Early Years practitioners, Early Years Music Practitioners & others who lead family story time sessions in libraries & community settings.
Ben is Children’s Librarian for Calderdale Libraries and an Early Childhood Music Specialist. He is an Early Years methodology tutor for the British Kodály Academy & regularly presents at conferences & delivers training on using songs and rhymes for Children Centre and Early Years staff as well as Children’s Library professionals. He has recorded songs and rhymes for the charity Booktrust, for their National Bookstart Week celebrations and, with his colleague Shelley Bullas, he co-authored the chapter Music and Rhyme Time Sessions for the Early Years in the book “Library Services from Birth to Five: Delivering the Best Start” edited Carolynn Rankin and Avril Brock.
Tuesday 15 March 2022,
Online 17.00-18.30 £15
Following her highly popular session last year, Sally-Anne Brown returns to explore ways of working musically in outdoor spaces.
This session will look at:
- some of the challenges of delivering music outside and how to overcome them
- resources and musical activities which can be used in the outdoor environment
- ways to support families beyond the music session in their own creative outdoor music making.
This session is suitable for all Early Years practitioners.
Sally Anne Brown has been a freelance Early Years music practitioner since 2005 following an increasing interest in very young children’s musical interactions and experiences which she witnessed during over 25 years as a woodwind teacher. Sally Anne’s experience includes delivering both ‘open to all’ music sessions in Children’s Centres and community groups and more tailored sessions in nurseries, preschools and schools in North Yorkshire and East Lancashire. She have also worked for several charities on music projects supporting families with young children with visual impairment, with physical disabilities and children for whom English is an additional language. She is also a mentor on the CME:Early Childhood based at CREC in Birmingham.
Musical Connection is a joint project developed though partnership between Trafford, Salford and Wigan Home-Start and Note Weavers.
The Home-Start charity helps families with young children through challenging times, using a local community network of trained volunteers and expert support.
“Musical Connection” will offer support to parents during the critical first 1001 days of their children’s lives, ensuring that they are better equipped to meet their children’s mental, emotional and developmental needs and give them the best possible start.
Individual family music sessions facilitated by Note Weavers aim to promote parent-infant bonding, improve family wellbeing and nurture children’s early development. These interactive musical play sessions will be delivered via Zoom video conferencing software. Each participating family will be provided with a music bag containing musical instruments, sensory resources and activity cards to support the family’s musical play between sessions.
Note Weavers will be instrumental in developing six resource videos for Home-Start staff and volunteers to use with future Home-Start families as well as an e-learning training module for staff and volunteers to support understanding of using musical play to support parent-infant mental health.
Note Weavers is delighted to support four North West early years music practitioners to study for the Certificate for Music Educators: Early Childhood (CME:EC) Level 4 qualification at The Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC) as part of our Youth Music funded Talking Regions project. The successful applicants for this bursary started the course in October 2021 and will be mentored by Note Weavers Director Sally-Anne Brown. Practical experience in an Early Years setting with additional mentoring has also been arranged and funded by Note Weavers.
Read about the Note Weavers funded CME:EC students:
I have been working as a self employed music teacher predominantly through the local authority of Blackburn with Darwen, and now Bolton Music Service. During this time I have worked in a range of ways in these locations including:
- Delivering the Music Curriculum KS1 – KS2
- Delivering First Access or Wider opportunities lessons where every child in usually a year 4 class gets the chance to learn an instrument.
- Working in a high school as a percussion teacher
- Teaching instrumentally on the guitar/bass/ukulele, through the music service as well as privately
- Creating performances for schools/parents to watch
This last year I have gradually had more work with Reception classes on my timetable. At first this was an area of work that I was very unsure about and I was clearly pitching my lessons too high. I have sought to find online training and discussions during this time to get ideas/support and now feel more confident but not fully secure.
I found the CME Early years course through Note Weavers and I feel that doing this will add a lot more depth to what I am doing.
As a child, I attended a music school for children where I was learning how to play Kankles, piano, flute, had solfegio, music history lessons and sang in the school choir. Studies in this school led to my successful entry to Juozas Tallat-Kelpsa Konservatorium in Vilnius, Lithuania.
This was a wonderful experience. After 4 years of study, I qualified as a music teacher and a leader of music groups. Straight after, I went on studying Kankles at the Academy of Music and Theatre of Lithuania and gained an MA in music.
In 1997 I joined primary school/kindergarten “Ausra” as a full time music teacher. Here I taught music to children aged 2.5 years old up to 11 years. I worked in this school until I moved to the UK in 2004. For the next 10 years I had an office based job and concentrated on my family.
In 2014, I started Music Tots, a music club for toddlers. It was a small Saturday music class at my local community centre. Since then, Music Tots has grown to 7 weekly classes in three different venues in Tameside and Oldham. At the moment I teach 4 Reception music classes in a primary school in Greater Manchester as well as running Music Tots and Music Babies.
I feel privileged to be given the opportunity to study at CREC. It is wonderful to meet people who are passionate about early years music. During this course I am hoping to find my identity as an early years music practitioner and polish my teaching style. I am striving to bring quality to my classes and deliver high quality joyous teaching.
I have been delivering music classes as an independent early years practitioner for the past 5 years. I studied Popular Music and Recording at University, loved performing and playing music and was very disappointed in the music classes available when my children were young. I took my 6 month old (at the time) along to most of the different classes available in my area, generally part of franchises, and I didn’t see the point in paying for something that I could do a lot better myself! So I left my job working for a carers charity and see up my own business Baby Beats. I knew nothing about Early Years Teaching, apart from what I researched and what I learnt from my own children, but I developed my own programme of classes in the local community, going in to schools and nurseries and delivering SEN sessions through local charities.
I have always felt quite alone and struggled to access training mainly due to the cost or the distance and the time it would take out of my regular work. However when I discovered the CME I decided it was time to train properly and get a qualification for what I do to help me feel more confident and to set me apart from some of my competitors. It was so reassuring to know I wasn’t the only one on the course who felt like this! The first 2 learning days have prompted me to completely re-think how I offer my classes and to not be afraid to try something new and experiment. Having some practical sessions where we explored these ideas and learnt new material was fantastic and gave me ideas of how I could re-work current material but allowing the children to have more input, and let them take the lead.
Overall I think I put a lot of pressure on myself to lead my classes and constantly entertain the children (and parents) and offer value for money, but actually this can be at the cost of what would actually be beneficial to the children. I think because I run my classes as a business I constantly think of the parents as my target market when it actually has to be the children at the centre of it!!! But I also know that I am doing some things right too and I thought I knew nothing about Dalcroze and Kodaly but actually I am using a lot of these techniques in my practice already, so this made me feel really good!
Hi, I’m Alison. I’m a lifelong musician and singer (40+ years) with a Performing Arts management degree from LIPA and a career in creative industries. I have four children, including a daughter with additional needs. For the past four years I have been a licensed teacher with Musical Bumps, running Kodaly-inspired early years music classes in my local area.
Unfortunately, the many changes brought about by the pandemic meant that this way of running classes no longer fitted around my family life. On the positive side, more time at home in the last 18 months gave me opportunities to research elements of my sessions that I wanted to develop further, such as SEND, inclusion, speech and language, musical play and different pedagogical approaches and I attended some useful online training events. I was really grateful to find and join the Note Weavers network during this time as I knew I needed to be amongst local practitioners.
When Note Weavers advertised the bursaries for the CME:EC course, I could see this would be an ideal way for me to build on my experience, skills and knowledge and gain a recognised national qualification to underpin my future work as an independent early years music practitioner.
I feel really excited to continue my journey in early years music and have loved getting to know my CME:EC mentors and fellow students so far. Our first two training days at CREC were packed full of useful learning, discussions, creative thinking and practical music making. Although there feels like a lot to do over the next 12 months, I am feeling really motivated to get stuck into the course, build my portfolio and become an even better practitioner for the fun, enjoyment and benefit of all the amazing children and families I will work with in the future.
Our Community, Our Future (OCOF) is the social integration programme for Blackburn with Darwen. This government funded, three year programme has been developed by Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council working with a wide range of local partners.
Note Weavers have been successful in securing a grant from the Our Community Our Future (OCOF) fund to embed current successful delivery and extend our community networking.
The OCOF project has a specific focus across three areas:
- the connecting and signposting of pre-school children with SEND to the groups.
- working with parents of babies under 9 months.
- extending the reach of our current programme & delivering taster sessions with established partners (eg Re-Source) and new organisations (eg linking with the Thrive programme at the Bureau).
In addition, Note Weavers want to build awareness of the potential of our “Shared Sounds” work to develop an integrated community family programme; there is a lack of free/low cost community activities for families. In developing this project, we want to develop two-way signposting between ourselves and local organisations in Blackburn with Darwen area (community and early years education providers) to increase understanding of the impact which supported family activity can have on the development of young children.
At Note Weavers, our Youth Music funded Talking Regions programme is now well underway within the North West and beyond. In the summer, seven regional organisations met as part of the ‘National Conversation’ and this group is now engaged in an audit of early years music activity across England.
To this end we invite you to complete the questionnaire below before the end of October 2021. Please can you also share this information and link with your partners and contacts?
We are hoping for a good response which will provide a snapshot of activity and inform nationwide discussions and strategic thinking relating to early years music provision. At the end of the project a final report will be available.