by Author Fiona Johnstone

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Bedlington to Ashington Building Brass Enquiry Project

As the building brass project is at a point where it is necessary to decide on its future with the three year funding from youth music finishing in July 2018, MPN instigated an extrnal enquiry review into the impact the current funding and strategy is having on all participants.  In order to seek further funding there needs to be clear evidence of the impact on pupils, schools and communities and for that impact to be great enough to warranty the amount of work and money that a project of this size requries. These are some of the quotes from pupils within the mini-bands: "I love playing my cornet.  It makes me feel peaceful.  Music really helps me because it lets me know I can be successful at something" "Mini band is incredible! We get lots of chances to play and perform." "I love playing the cornet and have gained loads of confidence since performing at the Sage." 

In schools where the project is valued, the impact is evident and in some exceeds expectations. Pupils are enthused and engaged, teachers and teaching assistants are responding to the opportunities to learn and develop musically and tutors have positive working relationships and feel part of the school. Pupils are progressing and mini-bands are able to perform, thus enriching the life of the school. Where schools are taking advantage of the extra enrichment opportunities pupils are having new and exciting experiences which are celebrated.

A project of this size and scope requires a huge amount of planning and organisation behind the scenes therefore scarce resources of time and funding should be allocated by MPN where outcomes will be greatest. If schools are reluctant participants they should be allowed to withdraw from the project.

The next phase of Building Brass should focus on the pathways beyond first and primary school. The middle and high schools have a large number of pupils moving through with increased musical skills and knowledge, which should impact on their music curriculum teaching and learning. There is the opportunity for these schools to have their own brass bands and parents have expressed a wish for this.

If Building Brass receives the funding necessary to proceed it has the potential to become a musical progression route through which pupils can achieve their potential, learn about their local heritage and become embedded and valued within the communities where they live.

Please read the full report attached.