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Opinion30th May 2023

Music transforming experience of school

We have designed our Ark Music programme to provide students with a comprehensive musical education, incorporating two distinct strands of activities:

Each year, we train 300 teachers to deliver classroom-based music lessons to students participating in school choirs or musical groups. We are also supported by 100 professional artists who share their expertise with both our teachers and students.

Rebecca Stewart

As our schools prepare for the Music Gala at the Barbican in July, Rebecca Stewart, Deputy Headteacher at Ark Castledown Primary in Hastings, reflects on how Ark Music is helping teachers enhance their skills and their children thrive.

“We began contemplating ways to establish a stronger connection to the cultural experiences in Hastings – the music, the dance and drama. Hastings is a hub of culture and being near Brighton, there’s so much happening.

“The Ark Music programme supports teachers in becoming experts at teaching music. When primary teachers undergo training, the focus is very much on the pedagogical side of things – how to teach. Naturally, some of our teachers were apprehensive about teaching music when we embarked on our journey with Ark Music, but we were determined that our children wouldn’t have the same feelings of uncertainty.

“We’re now in our second year of the programme, and while we’re not all music experts, the anxiety has dissipated. When I walk into their classrooms, everyone is singing, and they don’t stop. Music and song are also applied in cross-curricular ways to support learning in all subject areas.

“When I hear someone singing at school, it’s so uplifting and there is a buzz. Year groups regularly perform their music in assemblies and parade around the school. The joy on their faces is evident to all.

“The impact of music extends beyond the classroom. When a child has struggled for whatever reason, but they find something they can do, it changes how they feel about themselves and what they believe they can achieve. Every child deserves to experience that feeling when they’re at school.

“During last summer’s Samba performance, I witnessed a child who typically struggles academically parading with his class. He had the biggest smile on his face and never missed a beat. It brought a tear to my eye. He had found something he could do just like everyone else and he felt an immense sense of pride. Music transformed his attitude towards coming to school.

“As a child, I experienced the same feeling through dance. To this day, I apply the lessons I learned from dance and the confidence it gave me. I want every child to have that opportunity, and Ark Music gives these children that chance.”