‘The bassoon looked so cool, I can’t explain it but I just wanted to get my hands on it and play it, and make that amazing low rumbling sound!’.
Jake is 13 years old and has been playing the Bassoon since he was 8, taking his lessons on a Wednesday night at the local Music Centre.
His school has lots of musical activities which he enjoys taking part in; he loves the school choir and also the after-school improvisers’ ensemble run by the local professional jazz trio. Jake is showing exceptional talent, and on such a rare instrument, so his teacher wants him to apply to attend the local Conservatoire Junior School – but his parents don’t have the financial means to send him or buy him the new instrument he really needs.
His teacher encourages him to apply and, following a first-class audition, he is awarded a scholarship from the Junior School, supported by the Music and Dance Scheme. With the help of his teachers, Jake then applies for funding for a new instrument which he gets from Arts Council England’s Take it Away scheme.
As well as traveling to the Conservatoire Junior School, he still plays with his school and the local Hub ensembles bring his experiences and new-found skills back to his local area.
Jessica is 14 and loves to sing; she has had the chance to sing in school since the age of 5, developing her broader musical skills through the National Curriculum.
Although she had the chance to play a musical instrument, it wasn’t for her. Through her local Hub, Jessica has been able to really explore vocal styles, taking part in formal and informal workshops in Classical, Musical Theatre, Folk, Jazz and Blues and Pop and Rock.
In the last year, Jessica has been really drawn to Musical Theatre and has had the opportunity to travel to see live performances and take part in workshops and masterclasses with professionally trained musical theatre singers. This year, she will sing the lead in The Phantom of the Opera with the local Theatre School where she has the chance to also develop her acting and dance skills. If your child is also interested in dance lessons, look into take lessons courses.
‘I love acting and dancing now but if it wasn’t for the opportunity to sing through the Hub, I wouldn’t be doing this show.’
Dan is the lead guitarist in his band, As Loud As You Can. They have been together for three years; all five of them are 16. They started playing together at school through a full class orchestra programme.
The violin, viola or cello just wasn’t for them, although Scott (their bass guitarist) was so glad to have got the mini-bass (and still enjoys sneaking off once a week to play in the Hub Symphony Orchestra).
They all learned valuable skills that year and although the instruments were wrong they knew they loved playing and performing music together.
Seeing their potential, their Primary teacher gave them information about activities provided by their local Hub. They were excited to find rock and pop lessons on Tuesday evenings, giving them the chance to develop and put together the skills they needed to form their band.
As well as learning the necessary techniques and developing exceptional aural skills, they had the chance to develop a good academic knowledge through the formal music curriculum in school. As Loud As You Can enjoy performing and do as many gigs as they can but have enjoyed recording the most. Dan has a real interest in recording engineering and is looking forward to pursuing a career in the music industry, following a couple of weeks’ work experience in a local professional recording studio. He is going to make sure he continues to play guitar as well as keeping As Loud As You Can performing and recording together.
Paul is a 17-year-old violin player. He started at the age of 10 in his full class string orchestra, having already developed a solid ear through the Sing Up young voices development project.
Due to receiving free school meals, he was provided with support to progress to small group lessons after his first year. He has developed well, becoming comfortable with the instrument, and has now achieved Grade 6. He plays in his school String Orchestra and hopes to get a place in his local Hub’s Symphony Orchestra next year.
Paul enjoys performing and receives many opportunities to do so. He still loves to sing and enjoys taking part in his local Amateur Music Theatre Society where he always sings in the chorus.
‘I’m not a soloist but love being on the stage and part of the community and, of course, the action.’
Sam was a quiet but curious young lad. He had his first musical experience at the age of 6 when his school hosted a term-long creative music making project. The project focussed on bringing together Early Years singing, rhythm work (through untuned percussion) and composition.
Sam showed an aptitude for all the activities and began to develop a good ear. His class teacher was also enthused by the project and requested in-service support through Sing Up, ultimately using her training to make sure that her class continued to sing almost every day alongside the delivery of the National Curriculum.
When Sam was nine, his class attended a workshop all about woodwind and brass instruments where they got to hear all the different instruments. The workshop was led by players from the local professional orchestra. Sam was immediately drawn to the saxophone. At the end of the workshop, the class found out that they were going to be taking part in a year-long full class band project. This project, alongside the delivery of the National Curriculum, ensured that Sam developed a broad contextual understanding of music and turned him into an enthusiastic performer and attentive listener.
Having chosen the saxophone, Sam concentrated well in class, although he found it hard to practise on his own at home. ‘I like to play with my friends; it’s kind of boring on your own.’ The highlight of the year was going to see the players from their introductory workshop perform a young person’s concert in the local Town Hall: ‘It was amazing to hear them all play together – all the different sounds were amazing.’
In his first year of playing, Sam developed good technical and musical skills. Many of the skills he learned in music helped him to improve his academic studies too and he found it easier to focus and apply himself to tasks. Seeing this improvement, his parents hired him a saxophone and paid for him to continue his tuition at school in small groups.
At age 13, Sam was doing well and he entered for his Grade 4 saxophone and attended the local Hub Saturday Music Centre where he got the chance to play in a band with other young people. He also began to play in the Junior Symphony Orchestra. The National Curriculum in School at Key Stage 3 provided him with a broader awareness of music, its genres, and cultures.
Although Sam has decided that he doesn’t want to pursue music as a career, he is keen to have it in his life. Developing his skills has allowed him to take part in the local Jazz Band and Big Band as well as the Hub Symphony Orchestra.
At 17, he took the opportunity to participate in a series of Jazz improvisation and composition workshops offered on weeknights and this continued to broaden his skills and expertise in music. The workshops concluded with a gala performance where participants performed alongside their professional tutors and mentors. Sam also submitted his university applications aspiring to a career in science.
‘Now that I am at university, I look back at my early years and appreciate how my involvement in music not only enriched my creative but academic developmen; I am so glad that music gave me a focus and taught me the discipline that I needed to succeed in any area of my life. Music has also enhanced my social life giving me opportunities to meet and work confidently with new people; I have made many friends that I hope I will know for the rest of my life.
‘I still play in the university Big Band and now and then with the symphony orchestra, although I enjoy most of all gigging with my blues quartet at dinner dances and events in the town; it’s far better than working in a supermarket to put some extra money in my pocket. Music will always be a central part of my life.’
Mark and Sinae have a nine-month-old daughter, Geneviene. Mark and Sinae enjoy listening to music and going to concerts but were both put off pursuing music education due to limited music experiences when they were young.
They strongly believe in the power of music to enhance learning and want to make sure that their daughter takes part in as much quality music making as possible. A quick internet search took them straight to their local Hub website where they were excited to find a range of Early Years classes for their daughter.
‘We now take Geneviene to creative sing and play classes three times a week. This inspired me to learn the piano, something I had always wished I’d done. I found a local piano teacher on MusicTeachers.co.uk. I’m now taking regular piano lessons and I enjoy playing music with my daughter.’
Julie is an experienced Primary school teacher but she had always found it daunting to deliver the music element of the National Curriculum in Key Stages 1 and 2. Since the implementation of the National Music Plan for Music, Julie has found that the personal support and resources available to her have increased dramatically.
The most significant development was that all her class had the opportunity to learn an instrument for the whole year with two specialist music teachers arranged through the local Hub. Julie’s Head teacher encouraged her to get involved with the teachers and time was set aside for her to meet and plan how they would work together. Julie was able to tell the teachers useful things about the children in her class – for example, those who lacked confidence but enjoyed working in a group. Once the sessions began, Julie was amazed to see how quickly the children learned.
‘The specialist music teachers told me about a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme run by Music for Youth, the MU and the National Union of Teachers (NUT). The programme showed me so many ways to work with my class in a fun and easy way. There are some great online resources and my confidence has grown so much.
‘I was amazed at how the music teaching helped the children in other areas of their learning. I am now the Music Co-ordinator in our school and the whole school is now getting involved in music making.’
Anton is an 11-year-old drummer. He started just over two years ago after his school hosted a one day Samba workshop that was arranged through the local Hub. After the workshop, he started playing percussion in his full class band. He was so happy to get a drum kit for Christmas as he can now practise all the time.
‘I can play so many different types of music and in class we still learn the theory stuff so I can also read the notes, but I can also listen and repeat or respond to the music.’
Outside school, Anton plays with some of his older friends in his local youth club pop band; next month, they are going to play at the Youth Club Disco and in July, they will be performing in the Music For Youth National Festival in Birmingham.
When he is older, he hopes to play in a band in pubs and restaurants and make some money. As a student, he will be able to join the MU for £20 and as a member he will benefit from £10 million Public Liability Insurance cover and access to legal and contract advice.
Josip is a peripatetic brass teacher. He has recently graduated from university and has been thrown in at the deep end having received very little training in instrumental teaching whilst studying. He is teaching a broad mix of students in one-to-one, small group and full classroom settings across all brass instruments as well as helping out with the school band.
His local hub has an extensive partnership base drawing together a broad range of formal and informal music education providers and with strong links to both primary and secondary schools in the area.
Regular CPD programmes are arranged through the local Hub, focussing on many aspects of educational and instrumental pedagogy and music education theory drawing on all the available expertise.
An effective mentoring/buddying programme has also been arranged through the Hub, which matched Josip with an experienced teacher for his first year, providing solid academic and practical advice.
His joint Musicians’ Union (MU) and the National Union of Teachers (NUT) membership helped him access advice and guidance from both organisations.
‘The new Hub has allowed me to engage with exceptional professional development and mentoring at the highest level, providing me with the opportunity to develop my skills to become a more effective teacher and learner. I look forward to the introduction of the new Music Educator Qualification being developed by Creative and Cultural Skills and Arts Council England.’
The Musicians’ Union recommends that members who teach are up to date with the legislation regarding safeguarding children.
The MU has developed a bespoke online CPAT course, Child Protection Awareness In Music, which was developed with the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) in partnership with ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music) and MusicLeader.
A series of videos created as part of this valuable online course can be viewed below.
Below are some case studies surrounding child protection issues, highlighting the importance of having Child Protection Awareness Training.
You might not be the only one with concerns
Tina Smith, a guitar teacher working in a Secondary school, noticed that Lewis, a year 11 pupil who usually enjoyed his music lessons, started to turn up late and sometimes missed a lesson completely. He was looking increasingly anxious and tired and so Tina eventually asked him if everything was OK. Although Lewis said everything was fine, Tina was not satisfied.
Tina had never had to deal with something like that before. However, last year she attended an MU child protection workshop where such situations were discussed and advice and guidance was given to teachers on how to deal with them. Tina learned from the workshop that she couldn’t ignore her gut feelings even if they turned out to be unfounded and so she decided to raise her concerns about Lewis with the class teacher. She also made a note of her concerns to her line manager. Tina knew that the as an MU member she could contact the MU for reassurance and also that there was a NSPCC free helpline to support her if she felt the situation hadn’t been handled correctly.
The class teacher had identified similar behaviour in the classroom and was grateful that Tina had raised her concerns about Lewis with the school. It turned out that Lewis was becoming stressed by the volume of his GCSE coursework and he just needed to be supported and understood by his teachers until his GCSEs were over. After his exams Lewis went back to enjoying music and his guitar lessons again.
Emotional abuse – not the usual suspects
Anya Rozenthuler, a singing teacher who runs an extracurricular Saturday morning choir for gifted and talented pupils in a junior school, had grown increasingly uneasy about Jessie, one of the youngest and most recent members to join the choir. Anya noticed when Jessie was talking to her mother at the drop-off and collection times that Jessie’s behaviour was very compliant and that her mum was unusually vocal about what a prodigy her daughter was turning out to be. These remarks left Anya feeling uncomfortable, especially as she noticed that as soon as the mother left, Jessie’s whole demeanour changed. She became anxious and subdued and would frequently say she had lost her music when the time came to audition for parts.
Anya was nervous about raising the issues with Jessie’s mother, as she knew her mother was a local GP. Anya didn’t think her mother was the ‘type’ to be emotionally abusing her daughter and so she pushed her concerns to the back of her mind.
A couple of weeks later Anya attended an MU child protection workshop where she was surprised to hear one of her colleagues had experienced a similar situation. Anya learned that child abuse exists across all sectors of society and that the concerns she had were valid and needed to be acted on.
Knowing the facts, she felt much more confident with discussing her concerns with her line manager. The line manager helped her think about the conversation she might have with the Jessie’s mum. Anya was surprised how well this went and how Jessie’s mum responded to her concerns. Jessie’s mum explained that she had been so busy with work lately that she hadn’t been picking up on Jessie’s anxiety but now she said she realised that her comments weren’t helpful. They asked Jessie what she wanted and she said she would like to come along just to sing but not to take any of the lead parts. Once relieved of the pressure to perform Jessie relaxed and was able to really give her all to the sessions.
Physical abuse – the importance of sharing concern
Jamie Sheriff, a percussion workshop leader, works in a couple of the local secondary schools running one-off workshops on African drumming. One day, Shabbana, a year 13 pupil in one of his lessons, turned up late for the workshop and appears flustered. As she started playing, her sleeve rode up and James noticed a cluster of bruises on the underside of her forearm. Later, when Shabbana packed away the drums, Jamie asked her how she got the bruises. Shabbana said that her brother had grabbed her arm to stop her from stepping out in front of a car. Jamie wasn’t entirely convinced Shabbana was telling the truth but then remembered that Shabbana’s brother used to get into all sorts of scrapes when he was a teenager so he thought perhaps he was making a fuss about nothing.
At an MU child protection workshop, Jamie received some information about the signs of physical abuse and the importance of needing to share any concerns with another member of staff in order to get another perspective. From the workshop Jamie realised that there might be more to Shabbana’s story. He knows that it isn’t his role to make a judgement about what may or may not have happened but it is his role to pass on what he as observed and talked about with Shabbana.
Equipped with the new knowledge from the workshop, Jamie decides to speak to his line manager about his concerns even though the incident had happened several weeks ago. He also learns useful information about how to frame a question should he suspect abuse in the future. He knew that by keeping quiet there was a chance that Shabbana might be at further risk.
As a result of raising his concerns about Shabbana, his line manager contacted the school about Jamie’s concern. The school already had a safeguarding plan in place for Shabbana. They thanked Jamie for his vigilance and professionalism and asked him to make a retrospective note of what he observed and the conversation he had with Shabbana.
Facebook – teacher/pupil boundaries
Noah Goldstein, a 22-year-old rapper and DJ, runs songwriting workshops with youth groups and sixth form colleges. Last year he attended an MU child protection workshop because the charity he had recently started working for had asked him to go. When it was suggested that Noah attended the workshop he was quite reluctant as he didn’t understand what child protection and safeguarding children could possibly have to do with his work. He saw the young people he worked with more as young adults and some of them came to his gigs and were his Facebook friends.
During the workshop there was a presentation on current safeguarding legislation. Noah learned that the term ‘child’ applied to anyone under the age of 18. This was something that came as a shock to him as he hadn’t really thought about it before. There was also a discussion about Facebook and the issues that it can cause. Hearing other teachers’ and the workshop leader’s views he realised how important it was to have good boundaries in order to prevent an allegation of abuse or inappropriate conduct from a student. Noah decided that if he wanted to keep a good reputation and protect himself he would need to draw clearer boundaries between him and his students.
In the light of what he learned in the workshop he decided to change the privacy settings on his Facebook page and to be clearer in future with students about boundaries, which meant not inviting them to gigs. He also decided he needed to go back and ask both the charity he worked for and the school he worked in for a copy of their Child Protection/Safeguarding policies so he could be aware of all their policies around contact with the young people he worked with.
Sexual abuse – sexting
Sarah Sansome, a music workshop leader in inner city secondary schools, was working with a group of year 8 students towards a performance piece. As she was leaving she overheard a conversation between Jasmine (a pupil with learning disabilities) and Deepak about upsetting and obscene messages and images which Jasmine was getting on her phone from a group of year 10 boys. Sarah didn’t do anything at the time because she was already late for her next session but she went home thinking about the incident and wondered what to do about it.
One day Sarah saw an MU child protection workshop advertised in the MU magazine and decided it would be good to go as she had never been to a session for musicians and it was a long time since she had attended her initial training.
At the workshop she was able to discuss her concerns and realised that bullying in the form of ‘sexting’ was on the rise in schools and that she needed to report the incident she had witnessed, as holding on to the information could leave her in a compromised position, as well as not protecting Jasmine. Sarah also learned how children with learning disabilities and physical disabilities were much more vulnerable and more likely to be subject to abuse of all kinds.
The information she received at the MU child workshop helped Sarah to realise that child protection was everyone’s business and so she went back and found out what procedures she needed to follow in order to submit a report about the incident to both her line manager at the music service she worked for and the school’s designated child protection officer.
Inappropriate behaviour– grooming/harassment
Satnam Chayra is a peripatetic saxophone teacher and has one-to-one lessons with a 15-year-old female student called Nadia who has recently moved into the area.
One day Nadia turned up late to Satnam’s lesson carrying on a loud phone conversation with a friend as she walked into the teaching room. In the conversation Nadia gave details of sex between her and her ‘new boyfriend’, Phil. She then told her friend that Phil had just dropped her off at school in his new car and had given her a new iPhone. After the lesson Satnam taled to Nadia about her behaviour and the nature of the conversation being unacceptable but it seemed not to make a difference to her attitude.
The next day Satnam told his line manager, John, about what had just happened. John laughed off Satnam’s concerns and says ‘she lives in a fantasy world, that girl’.
Satnam attended an MU CPAT workshop and in the workshop Satnam was able to discuss his situation over coffee with the workshop leader who was very supportive. He was advised by the workshop leader to make a note of his concerns about both the girl’s safety and the effect her inappropriate behaviour was having on his ability to do his job properly, stating clearly that he felt harassed by it. Satnam left knowing he could get support from the MU with getting his concerns taken seriously and that he wasn’t making a fuss about nothing. The MU also suggested that Satnam could ask for a support worker to attend the lessons with Nadia to make things more comfortable and to ensure that Nadia kept appropriate boundaries.
The following day Satnam had another conversation with John who passed on Satnam’s concerns to the person in the school with designated child protection responsibilities who then talked to Nadia and her social worker. They were grateful that Satnam had taken the situation seriously as Nadia’s social workers were then able to give Nadia some extra support and advice around the sexual exploitation issue.
Never too late to report a disclosure
Martin McDonald, a flute teacher at a boarding school, heard about the MU CPAT training through the MU magazine. The training is specifically for musicians who teach and so Martin decided to go along and have some training as it might be more beneficial than the more general training he had had in the past.
In the training he recalled an incident with a girl called Rhianna that happened when he was rehearsing the school band for an end of term concert. As she was packing away at the end of the night, Rhianna told him that she used to self-harm but she had stopped it now. At the time Martin remembered being a bit shocked by what Rhianna had said but he made very little comment to her and thought no more about it.
In the workshop he had time to rethink what had happened. He realised that Rhianna was making a disclosure and that the self-harm may or may not have stopped but the situation causing it may still be there.
Martin was advised to make a note of the date and time of the initial disclosure then to go back to the pupil and tell them of his duty to pass on the information to the person in school with child protection responsibilities who will need to speak with Rhianna to find out what support she might need.
Incidents around the school
Clinton Fopart-Ttimet time music teacher in an inner city Academy, attended an MU child protection workshop on the recommendation of another teacher in the school.
During the afternoon session, teachers exchanged stories about the changes in pupil conduct over recent years and some of the challenges of teaching today.
Clinton shared a story that happened to him one lunchtime. Amy, a year 11 pupil in the school, who he didn’t teach, came up to Clinton and asked him if knew what a ‘blow job’ was and if he did this with his wife. Clinton was flabbergasted and said, ‘Amy, either you know what you are saying to me which is really bad, or you don’t understand what you are saying, which is also really bad’. He explained to the group that it seemed to him that she had been asked to do this ‘as a dare’ by a group of older girls who he could see standing over in a corner watching and laughing.
At the CPAT workshop Clinton got the chance to share the story and discuss what else he could have done. With hindsight he realised that it would have been good practice to share the incident with his Head of Department so they knew exactly what had happened and could approach Amy to reinforce the fact that her behaviour was not only unacceptable, but that it was also potentially risky for her to be approaching adults she didn’t know and using sexualised language. They could also deal with any potential bullying by older pupils towards Amy.
Although the incident had happened too long ago to do anything about it now, it did promote a lot of discussion about how to respond to some of the challenges that occur outside of the classroom and the importance of good communication with the Head of Department as well as keeping written notes of all potential safeguarding incidents no matter where in the school they might occur.
Inappropriate dress in lessons
Marios Doucas, a young music teacher who teaches cello from home, attended an MU safeguarding workshop after doing the MU NSPCC online course. The course made him realise that there was much more to safeguarding than he originally thought.
During the afternoon session, there was an exercise on the do’s and don’ts of good practice of music teaching in the classroom and safeguarding children. He realised that one of the issues he had with teaching at his home was around how students dress. There was one particular pupil, 13 year old Irina, who regularly turned up wearing a short skirt for lessons.
Marios explained that, although it was making him feel uncomfortable, he didn’t want to draw attention to it by talking about it with her. Discussing it at the workshop, he realised that he wasn’t the only teacher who had been unsure about what to do in this type of situation. The discussion made him realise that from this point forward he needed to have a clear written agreement with all new parents before the lessons began about the right equipment and dress for pupils attending the lessons.
As a result of sharing and discussing his issue with other teachers and the workshop leader he felt much more confident about what to do.
He resolved to talk with Irina’s parents about the dress issue as part of his weekly report back to them. He decided to phrase it in terms of Irina’s ease of movement and comfort when playing the instrument.
Risk assessing the teaching situation and forward planning
Paul Ennis, a piano teacher with considerable experience and based at home, attended a recent MU Child Protection workshop to update his skills.
During the course of the workshop he discussed a number of challenges around safeguarding and teaching from home, which have affected him over the years.
Most recently, Paul had been teaching a 5 year old student, Ruby. Her mum, Jane, had stayed for the first lesson. On the second lesson, seeing that Ruby was enjoying the lesson, Jane decided to pop to the local shop.
A moment or two after Jane left Ruby wet herself. Paul was at a loss as to what to do. He had forgotten to get Jane’s mobile number as the original plan was that Jane would sit in with Ruby.
Paul had never had to deal with a situation like this before. Luckily his wife was at home and asked Ruby if it would be OK to clean her up and find her some dry things to put on until her mum came back.
The incident that Paul shared made the teachers at the workshop really think about the importance of doing a thorough risk assessment of the home environment for teaching.
Paul realised that he needed to make his arrangements for contacting parents clear and also the need for insisting parents of young children sit in the car outside the lesson in future in case they were needed. That would avoid Paul or his wife and Ruby being put in a potentially compromising position.