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It’s Music Next!


Yamaha’s Bill C Martin shares some thoughts on the impact of the FMS’s Wider Opportunities impact evaluation, part-funded by Yamaha

chief executive, John Witchell, suggested that our support in 2009 be used directly to part-fund an impact evaluation of Wider Opportunities (WO) – the whole-class vocal and instrumental teaching scheme for children at Key Stage 2 (ages 7-11) which has been gathering momentum in primary schools since 2006. John told us: ‘The report was


commissioned by the FMS and Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) to assess the impact of WO, which actually started in 2000 when a minister said he thought it would be a good idea for every child to have the opportunity to learn to play an instrument. Children have had those opportunities for a long time but the notion that every child should, as part of their primary school music entitlement, was a very different thing.’ The key objectives of WO are that:

1. by 2011, every KS2 child will have had at least a year of free instrumental or vocal tuition

2. at least 50 percent of WO alumni will have opted to continue learning in some way

Group Think

At its inception there weren’t sufficient teachers, instruments, funding or the teaching strategies that would be effective in WO teaching. The teaching approaches used in most instrumental teaching had evolved largely from a one-to-one teaching style, whose roots go back probably for centuries, largely


s a long-time annual supporter of the Federation of Music Services (FMS) Yamaha was delighted when FMS

handed down from teacher to pupil, through successive generations. But in the past few decades the one-to-one approach has been stretched to destruction to cater for group teaching, a move driven largely by financial rather than learning benefits – at least to begin with.

Consider this scenario: a 40-minute

small-group lesson – let’s say with four pupils in the class – may begin and end with a session lasting about eight minutes, to cover the pupils’ arrival, dealing with instruments and stands, tuning, etc, and confirming the week’s practice items at the end. Then there may be some kind of whole-group performance at the beginning and end – let’s say another eight minutes in total. But that’s nearly half the lesson gone already! Then, typically, for the remaining 24 minutes many teachers would work with pupils individually (ie, for 5-6 minutes each), while the remainder of the class would be given something to do on their own, possibly practising or working something out from a score.

The point is that with this approach each child has a maximum of 22 minutes teacher contact time out of the available 40. During their 18 minutes of ‘down time’ forget any notion of creating an exciting, fun and motivating experience! So this arguably already flawed

small-group lesson planning approach was clearly not going to work with a class of up to 30 musicians. That’s why it has been a core challenge of the WO programme to create effective, new, whole-class teaching approaches. From the start, Trinity-Guildhall and the Open University took a leading role in helping teachers identify and develop 21st-century whole-group teaching strategies and provide what has become a flexible and effective CPD programme for all those involved in WO


Opportunities is transforming the lives of many KS2 children and their schools

delivery. The learning from this has certainly contributed substantially to the success of WO, not only identifying new teaching methods but also clarifying team-teaching roles, where an instrumental teacher, community musician, primary class teacher and teaching assistant may collectively contribute to the learning and management of each group lesson. The impact evaluation, Wow, it’s

music next, written by Professor Anne Bamford and Paul Glinkowski, provides us with the good news that, not only have we made a great start in broadening access to instrumental tuition in English primary schools through WO, but that the programme is world-class; we can be rightly proud of it and it is already being flagged up as a model for music education in other countries. WO is transforming the lives of many KS2 children and their schools, often giving them all a sense of achievement as well as an enjoyable and progressive experience of learning with their friends. But the report also warns that some children, when moving from the relatively high-energy, fun experience they’ve enjoyed through WO may find the traditional individual or small-group lesson a little dull and may therefore not continue. In my view this is one of the most important pieces of music education research we’ve seen in the UK in recent years and I’d urge all those connected with music education to read it. With still a year of the initial WO funding left, the report tells us that this is something that’s now too valuable to abandon in 2011. We must find imaginative ways to continue it, for the benefit of all the children in our country. An executive summary and a news report can be found at The full research can be downloaded from the FMS website – Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36
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