Birmingham Contemporary Music Group has been awarded a significant grant to lead a ground-breaking project that supports and develops composing in primary schools.
Listen Imagine Compose Primary is a three-year project that will see BCMG work with children, teachers and composers in 6 Birmingham and 3 Bristol primary schools to better understand how children compose and progress as composers. The project also aims to improve the quality and frequency of how and when composing is taught in primary schools.
The project is a partnership between BCMG, Sound and Music, Birmingham City University, Birmingham Music Education Partnership, Bristol Plays Music and the individual schools.
The main activity in schools will take place between September 2020 and July 2022 and see teachers working alongside professional composers to plan, develop and teach composing to children in Year 4 and then Year 5. The project has a strong research element which will be led by Professor Martin Fautley from Birmingham City University. This will enable the findings of the project to be shared widely and generate a national conversation about composing in primary schools.
Nancy Evans, BCMG Director of Learning, explains: “Composing has been part of the national curriculum in the UK since 1987 and is a fundamental part of the development of children’s musicality. However, evidence has shown that, in reality, the amount of composing in primary schools is limited and of variable quality. Similar approaches are taken with all age groups which can mean children make little progress. Teachers can feel restricted by time, space and resources as well as lack confidence and skills. This project will allow us to address some of these issues and influence how composing is taught and learned in primary schools nationally.”
In Sound and Music’s recent national survey #CanCompose, 95% of teacher respondents said that they thought young people need more opportunities to create and compose music.
54% said that CPD for themselves and colleagues would be the key thing that would benefit their pupils learning to compose and 39% reported never having had any CPD for teaching composing or creative music making.
53% of school-based teachers cited ‘opportunities to work with professional composers’ as a key thing that would benefit their pupils in learning to compose.
Judith Robinson, Head of Education, Sound and Music says: “I am thrilled and excited that our partners, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, have secured such a significant award from Paul Hamlyn Foundation for Listen Imagine Compose Primary. Listen Imagine Compose Primary enables us to work towards achieving a number of the recommendations we made as a result of our #CanCompose report.”
Professor Martin Fautley, Birmingham City University, Faculty of Health, Education, and Life Sciences says: “Listen Imagine Compose Primary is a significant piece of both activity and research. It will investigate an area which we currently do not know a great deal about, but which, we hear anecdotally, is one where some primary school teachers can struggle. At a time when all music education in schools is facing problems of one sort or another, this is an important step forwards, which we hope will not only benefit the teachers and the schools, but, importantly, the young people in them.”
Catherine Sutton, Head of Programme – Education, Paul Hamlyn Foundation says:
“A wealth of research shows that children in schools which are rich in the arts are more resilient, healthier, do better in school, are more likely to vote, to go to university, to get a job and to keep it. PHF is delighted to support Birmingham Contemporary Music Group’s Listen Imagine Compose Primary project. Composition in the primary music curriculum is an area which is often overlooked. This project will offer children opportunities to express themselves creatively and will enhance their learning in this important area. We are keen to support the project’s focus on researching the pedagogies that foster progress in composing and on sustainably developing teachers’ practice.”
The Listen Imagine Compose Primary project builds on BCMG’s 20 years of experience working with young people in and out of school through their Learning Programme.