“Early learning is the education vaccine. Its effects last forever”

Early intervention is key to unlocking children’s life-long resilience, personal and social potential, health and happiness, – and musical engagement sits right at the core. We owe it to all of our children and young people to provide meaningful, high-quality musical opportunities regardless of their personal circumstance. This we believe in. This we all aspire to achieve.

But let’s stop for a minute.

Perhaps it’s time to turn this statement on its head. We talk about children and families facing barriers to musical opportunities, but is it time to recognise that these barriers to engagement might actually be perpetuated within our sector and exist within our own organisations? Are we unintentionally, full of well meaning yet inadvertently laying blame at the wrong feet?

If that is the case, what are the challenges that we perceive to exist? We blame the limited acknowledgement of the importance of musical engagement in early years within DfE’s 2011 ‘A National Plan for Music Education’; we point the finger at the lack of recognition and value amongst policy-makers; we moan about limited funding; we also even blame ourselves, and our complex, multi-layered and – yes – competitive workforce. These are all real-time challenges that impact our work every day, but with innovative approaches, creative collaboration and cross-sector partnerships, we can refuse to be held back and together address these challenges head-on. We owe it to children and young people to find a way through these challenges and positively affect change.

On Monday 6 March at Lyric Hammersmith we will be shining a spotlight on organisations that have done just that. Organisations like Creative Homes – who engage with our most isolated families by ‘door knocking’ and facilitating musical activity in their homes; Creative Futures – who by partnering with Speech and Language Therapists, meaningfully work with children with speech and language delay; Tri-borough Music Hub – who have diversified their income streams and provide comprehensive training for early years practitioners working in nurseries and children’s centres and; World Beaters– who work with multi-agency partners to unite disparate communities and improve the wellbeing of children, young people and families.

At this year’s Sound Connections Early Years Conference: With Open Arms – investigating musically inclusive practice in early years, we will:

  • Outline social need and explore existing barriers to musical engagement for children, families, workforce and our wider communities
  • Explore examples of innovative creative arts practice with isolated families, children in hospital settings, with speech and language difficulties and demonstrate the strength of evidencing impact
  • Discuss multi-agency approaches to delivery, the challenges and the value of cross-sector working to improve the quality of our engagement.

With additional contributions from Claire HopeWigmore Hall Learning, Pulse Arts, Dr Jessica Pitt and Linda Bance, we will explore ways in which we can provide meaningful engagement and inclusive opportunities to all children and young people. We will acknowledge the barriers that exist, but be positive and proactive in our solution. We hope you will join the conversation, and look forward to seeing you there

Click here to book your ticket >

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