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Rocksteady and Trinity College London’s ‘exam-free’ primary music qualification surpasses A-level uptake

Over 6000 primary school students across the UK have enrolled for the ‘Music Performance in Bands’ qualification created by Rocksteady Music School and Trinity College London (TCL).

Over 6000 primary school students across the UK have enrolled for the ‘Music Performance in Bands’ qualification created by Rocksteady Music School and Trinity College London (TCL).

The Ofqual-regulated ‘exam free’ subject is available to all UK primary schools that offer the Rocksteady programme of collaborative music lessons. Launched last September, the new qualification is based on student skills observed during the course of lessons rather than being assessed in an exam or end-of-year performance.

‘Because the programme is designed around our existing technology, inclusive child-led pedagogy and a quality assurance infrastructure, children continue to enjoy all the fun and wellbeing benefits of their Rocksteady lessons without any distraction or stress of feeling like they are being measured,’ said Rachel Hawker, Director of Education at Rocksteady.

Over the 15 years of Rocksteady’s existence, the company has established a strong reputation for introducing hundreds of thousands of primary school children to playing, singing and performing in a band environment. The 30-minute lessons are taught during school hours by peripatetic professionals and the students are supplied with the instruments and equipment they need. The emphasis is on fun, creating a happy and supportive environment in which children play with their friends, leading them to a lifelong love of playing music.

No previous experience is necessary for students who, from the start, learn together, enhancing their self-confidence and team spirit. The programme is free to schools but parents who can afford to pay a subscription fee. Bursaries and grants are also provided via the Rocksteady Foundation for those who cannot afford to pay.

Rocksteady’s collaboration with Trinity College London has cemented its authority as a serious music education provider. As TCL Director of Music Francesca Christmas said, ‘Ensuring access to high-quality music education for all children has never been more important than now, and forward-thinking providers such as Rocksteady are creating music-making spaces that children can thrive within. Trinity College London is delighted to be supporting so many young people through our new qualification, where the assessment is designed specifically to support programmes of music-learning in bands.’

The uptake for the new qualification is 1000 more than the total number of A-level music exam candidates in the UK last year and bodes well for the future of more formal music education. ‘I’m thrilled that we have been able to enrol so many children who otherwise may have been unlikely to choose or have the opportunity to work towards a music qualification at this primary age,’ said Rachel Hawker.