Teaching Music to Younger Children
There is strong research evidence to show that teaching children to play and understand music improves their development and educational attainment. We believe, based on this scientific evidence, that Every Child a Musician (ECaM) has significant benefits to children in Newham, above and beyond the joy of learning to play an instrument well.
Improving reading and cognitive development
Very strong evidence shows that music training improves reading outcomes for children. The effect is equivalent to a third of the average improvement a child makes between school years 2 and 3.
This improvement is believed to happen because as well as improving general intelligence, music increases children’s ability to neurologically process differences in sounds – which is a key building block of literacy.
There is also good evidence that music training improves children’s IQ across the board. Training has also been shown to specifically boost verbal intelligence and to improve verbal memory by 20%.
The ECAM Programme is building on this scientific evidence by expanding our music teaching to include 7 and 8 year old children, in school years 3 and 4.
ECAM has developed Music and Literacy workshops as taster sessions for our new teaching to younger children. The workshops are themed around musicianship, literacy and playing instruments. They are designed for children in Year 3, who are not expected to meet their end of year learning targets. Most have a form of Special Educational Need, complex needs, global developmental delay (failure to meet developmental milestones) etc.
In November 2015, at one of the workshops in one of Newham’s Primary Schools, a member of the Year 3 class was a selective mute and the ECAM team were told not to expect her to participate. During the workshop, the child began to sing and managed to complete the whole song. The class teacher was astonished, delighted and in tears at the impact participating in the music had had on this child.
The feedback from Head Teachers has been equally positive.
… A big thank you to the ECAM team for allowing our Year 3 children to participate in the ECAM [music and literacy] project. I was amazed at how much you achieved with the children… Feedback from the teachers indicated that the children have gained much confidence in their speaking and listening skills and are now enthused and eager to contribute during their English lessons…
Their presentation in the Good Work assembly gave them a great platform to showcase their work and their achievements. This has really given them confidence within whole class teaching sessions. The link with music and literacy is really an innovative idea that we at Lathom School would like to explore in the new academic year.
Head Teacher: Lathom School
The quality of provision is key for Every Child as there is an expectation that all participants will have access to high calibre learning and development opportunities comparable with those which are privately purchased in more affluent areas. Quality of delivery has been, and will continue to be, monitored and assured via observation of teaching, and regular evaluation with schools. In addition, ECAM has developed a bespoke syllabus of work for tutors to follow, which has been externally accredited.
There have been two large scale independent cycles of evaluation of ECAM by the Institute of Education in 2011/12 and 2013/14. Another evaluation was undertaken in 2014/15 with Newham Head Teachers. These evaluations demonstrated a high level of actual and perceived outcomes, and customer satisfaction as follows:
ECAM Outcomes Evaluation – Institute of Education
- Newham’s young people have high aspirations and we want to make sure we do everything we can to ensure they fulfill their potential.
- Learning a musical instrument builds important life skills: confidence, dedication and motivation.
- By investing in all of our young people, we are instilling in them a sense of self worth that will help them gain the personal resilience they need to succeed in later life.
Two cycles of evaluation undertaken between 2011 -2014 by the Institute of Education, demonstrate that :
- Children are making positive progress in music learning, irrespective of their ethnicity or their parental income
- ECaM provides high quality tuition – the Institute of Education assessed the vast majority of ECaM lessons as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’
- The young people participating in ECAM report a strong sense of social inclusion and of being healthy and happy
- 89% of parents and caregivers strongly agreed with the statement ‘I am happy that my child is learning to play an instrument’.
We have found that the success of ECaM provision is not linked to an individual school’s overall academic profile. Newham ECaM is being equally effective across the Borough, irrespective of a school’s KS2 reported outcomes.
Importantly we also discovered that a significant number of children who performed less well in their Key Stage 2 assessments achieved a contrastingly higher level of instrumental learning, with some achieving the highest tutor ratings.
Professor Graham Welch, Chair of Music Education at the Institute of Education, has led two large scale evaluations of the Every Child a Musician Programme. In 2015, he reported:
“The children are enjoying their instrumental learning experience and continued to display high levels of engagement, irrespective of gender and ethnicity…
Ethnicity was not a factor in children’s progress; all ethnic groups demonstrated similar learning gains. Although girls tended to be assessed slightly higher in their instrumental learning than boys, the actual differences were small and both sexes demonstrated successful and significant improvements in their learning.”
Feedback from a parent
“My child goes to Brampton School and plays an instrument with ECAM.
She was shy and quiet before but now her confidence has grown.
She is doing very well in languages. At parents evening, her teacher told me that she has excelled in languages this year. She is in the top group.
The teacher said “She must play an instrument?” I asked how the languages teacher knew that and he replied “The progress she has made is unusual for a child in year 7. She picks up the words and the correct pronunciation immediately. This is unusual”.
She will be learning THREE languages in Year 8”.
“She makes friends easier now. She has made outstanding progress on her instrument and she has a more positive attitude towards learning. I don’t know what she’d do without ECaM. We’d never have got her to learn an instrument. We wouldn’t have known that she’s capable of doing this without ECaM. She would never have shown an interest in learning an instrument if there hadn’t been ECaM.”
DF, Newham Resident
Examples such as this demonstrate how ECaM creates resilience in children, impacting positively on other areas of their lives, both academically and socially preparing for the future.
Coborn Centre for Young People with Mental Health Issues
ECAM is delivering a paid for service of weekly music sessions to young people with mental health issues in the Coborn Centre, which is a residential unit at Newham General Hospital.
The work began with one session per week and has been gradually extended to 3 sessions and also now includes music for the young people on the Acute Unit.
The work on the Acute Unit is on a 1:1 basis.
On his arrival in the Acute Unit recently, ECAM’s tutor was told that a particular child, who is very unwell, would not get out of bed and would not be having his music session that week. The child had been visited by two therapists and several other staff and they had all been unable to persuade him out of bed.
ECAM’s tutor suggested he could just stand inside the child’s room and start playing. The child was in bed with his head under the bed clothes.
As the tutor played, gradually the child’s head emerged and slowly he sat up.
He eventually got out of bed.
By the end of the session, he was sitting in the reception area with his ECAM tutor and they were working on a song together.
Coborn Centre staff were delighted to see him engaging in this way.