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5 projects innovating music-making with children under 5

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Last year we invested over £1 million in music-making projects for children aged 0-5's - also known as Early Years. Although it only last 5 years, those first years are packed full of learning and dramatic change for children as they grow from babies to children in their first year at school.

If you thought the Early Years was all about singing ‘Wheels on the Bus’ and Nursery Rhymes, prepare to be surprised. Check out some of the exciting work taking place across the country.

1. Boosting babies’ mental health in Dorset

Babigloo are developing their innovative and holistic approach to early year’s music making. Their work reduces anxiety and increases well-being in families who otherwise would find attending parent and baby classes difficult.

Babligoo sessions explore different musical genres from around the world, vocal sounds and rhythms, and babies meet a range musical instruments from cellos and drums to digeridoos and accordions.  

Watch the video to learn more about how Babigloo boosts mental health.

drawing of children and parents making music
Photo credit Sage Gateshead

2. Supporting children online in Newcastle

The Loud and Clear programme run by the Sage Gateshead, works with children in care between the ages of 0-7. At the start of the pandemic, they moved their face-to-face delivery onto Zoom, and they have discovered new and creative ways to make music.

Carers suggest song ideas using the chat function, children bring to the camera favourite toys and objects from their homes to inspire song writing, and facilitators have embraced the online time lag for some creative musical performances, where participants are muted & unmuted for some solo performances.

Project Lead Ryan Humphrey talks more on the Youth Music Network 

3. Creating magical musical spaces in the East of England

SALTmusic builds upon the idea that all babies are born with innate musical ability and that musical communication can contribute to our multiple forms of language. It offers musical, playful approaches which support speech, language and communication needs (SLCN)."

The project was developed through a partnership between the music and arts team and a Speech and Language therapist. The SALTmusic team create magical interactive spaces that offer musical, safe spaces for parents and children to play together.

Their approach shows that when we take the pressure off talking and instead put the emphasis on laughter and fun, children and parents relax and communication skills can develop. Watch the video to find out more about SALTMusic's approach.

The SALTMusic project is delivered by Magic Acorns – watch the video to find out more about their work.

4. Action-Research in Southampton

SoCo Music Project have partnered with the Royal College of Music to develop new ways to make music with children aged 0-5 with Special Education Needs/Disabilities. Music leader Ignacio worked in partnership with teachers in nurseries and schools, and the results have been eye opening for all! A reception teacher describes the impact of the music activities on one of the children in her class:

“… the drum and the guitar were amazing and it was like a key that opened the door for her to able to relax and express her sound, and to give her freedom, just to be in another world…she was being transferred into another place and she could forget all the anxieties...it was just like someone had taken the chains off her. And then for like 20 minutes she could just be what she wanted happy and relaxed.”

two young children banging a drum
Photo credit Pamela Raith Photography

5. Tiny Sparks in Leicester

The Spark Arts for Children send professional musicians to work with children aged 0-4 across Leicester City. Embracing and building on the rich and diverse cultural heritage of the children, musicians bring their heritage and musical backgrounds into nurseries and libraries across Leicester.

Check out some of the amazing resources created by drummer and percussionist David ‘Stickman’ Higgins and artist, writer and composer Mellow Baku.

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