• Keep the kids learning music this summer – for less

    Jazzlines Summer School

    Back in March, we put together a list of popular summer school music courses.  These were well received, so we had a look for more – and found that keeping the children musically occupied this summer doesn’t need to break the bank…

    Summer is finally here, and many parents’ minds are already turning to the long summer holidays and what activities to plan for their children.

    For those that are musically minded, summer schools are increasingly popular for a variety of reasons.  As class sizes are considerably smaller, teachers can dedicate more time to every student. Summer courses are also a great way to connect with other musicians and like-minded people, and can be brilliant for improving skills such as technique and performance, and inspiring productive practising.

    Popular summer courses

    Our original list of popular summer courses contains courses for varying ages and levels of ability, but generally they are for children of older primary/secondary school age and most last around a week.  All of these courses incur costs, which vary depending on course length and whether it is residential. And they usually specify a minimum ability of Grade 4/5 upwards.

    Apply for a free/low cost music course

    Depending on where you live, there are many courses out there that are free or very affordable to attend. There is normally certain criteria that need to be met and applicants should demonstrate a certain level of enthusiasm and passion for music and learning.


    Free music summer school courses

    Proms Go Pop! Newham Music Instrumental Summer School
    13 August 13 – 16 August
    Sign up by Monday 29 July at 5pm

    This free summer programme is open to young people aged 9-18 who can play at a Grade 1 equivalent or higher. There will be different progression opportunities for all abilities, including solos, section leader positions, and advanced ensemble attendance.

    Contact info@newham-music.org.uk  

    Breakin’ Convention Hip Hop theatre Summer School
    5 August – 13 August
    Sign up by Friday 12 July at 5pm

    Take a varied and interactive 5-day workshop spanning rap, grime, music, theatre skills and dramaturgy as you work on producing a creative project of your own.

    Visit QueenElizabethOlympicPark.co.uk/SummerSchool to apply.

    Jazzlines Summer School
    19 August – 23 August
    Sign up deadline to be announced

    Jazzlines run a yearly non-residential Summer School course which is free to young musicians from Birmingham and the surrounding areas aged between 11 and 19. You can learn a range of skills including technique, improvisation and ensemble playing.

    Find out more 

    Pedestrian Music Week Summer School 2019
    22 July – 26 July

    Learn about beats, bars, production, lyric writing and recording!

    Find out more and apply

    Low cost music courses

    Tees Valley Music Service Summer School Hartlepool
    24 July – 31 July
    £24 for two days, £40 for four days

    Open to any child aged 8 to 14. You get to try out instruments you’ve never played before and for those who do play an instrument, there will be specialist teachers to work with you as an ensemble. There will be a gala performance to showcase everything the children have done at the end of the final day.

    Find out more and book

    29 July – 1 August 2019
    £15 suggested donation

    It’s year 5 of the Junior Bloco Summer School.  Young people from London aged 9-13 years old are invited to attend for drumming, brass, woodwind, steel pans and dance. You will learn new skills or develop existing ones and join together with over 60 other young people to play music, steel pan or drum and put together a spectacular show for friends and family. You can join as a Drummer / Brass-woodwind or Steel Pan player.

    Find out more
    Booking form

    Brighton & Hove Music and Arts
    Summer Schools
    6-20 July 2019
    From £30 a day

    A true celebration of youth music making, these courses produce 18 nights of performances for audiences to enjoy. Courses are focused on music technology, singing, rock & pop and classical music. They are available for a range of instruments/voices, with opportunities for children and young people from year 2 to year 11.

    East Sussex Music Service Summer Courses
    8-26 July 2019
    c. £31 per day

    East Sussex Music Service offers courses from beginner to advanced levels on a wide range of instruments. Some courses are for single instruments (like violin), but most are for bands, choirs and orchestras.

    Derbyshire Music Hub Singing Summer School
    23-25 July (Derbyshire) / 28-30 August (Derby)

    Three days of singing, exciting musical activities and making new friends… open to pupils aged 7+ who love to sing!
    Find out more

    Exmouth Music Centre Summer School
    5-9 August 2019
    from £20 daily

    Concert Band and Training Band depending on your ability, Ensemble opportunities for a mixture of groups. Other informative workshops will be on offer. Entry requirements: Training Band – Grade 2 to Grade 4 or equivalent, Concert Band – Grade 4 to Advanced level.
    Find out more


  • What are you doing on Make Music Day?

    Make Music Day is growing from strength to strength every year. At the time of writing, there are 207 music performances that are scheduled to happen across the UK on 21 June, and hundreds more across the globe.

    It all started in France when Maurice Fleuret became Director of Music and Dance at Minister of Culture Jack Lang’s request. When he discovered, in a 1982 study on the cultural habits of the French that out of five million people, one young person out of two played a musical instrument, he began to dream of a way to bring people out on the streets. It first took place in 1982 in Paris as the Fête de la Musique.

    An international phenomenon

    Ever since, the festival has become an international phenomenon, celebrated on the same day in more than 1000 cities in 120 countries.

    Guiding principles insist that all events take place on 21 June (the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere); that the events are free at the point of entry; and that events are accessible to the general public.

    Headline events – UK


    Bristol will showcase Making Music members and Bristol musicians in Millennium Square, with films on the big screen and live lunchtime performances from Bristol Samba Band and the Orchestra of Everything. There will also be live music in venues across the city including Bristol Airport, St George’s, The New Room, St Mary Redcliffe, Withywood Community Arts Centre and the Rope Walk in Bedminster.
    More info and times



    Making Music, Ty Cerdd, and Tafwyl Festival join forces to host Make Music Day in Cardiff. Expect a strong variety of performances and workshops for all. Revellers should head to the Glanfa Stage on Friday 21st June to join in the fun.
    More info and times




    In London, Kinetika Bloco, will parade the Low Line through the railway arches of London Bridge to Potters Fields with a series of music experiences in parks, the entrances to bars and other places and spaces along the way arriving at stunning riverside amphitheatre venue, The Scoop. Once there, music fans will also be treated to performances by Smiley and the Underclass, Hotsteppas, THe PETEBOX, Afla Sackey Afrik Bawantu.
    More info and times



    Performers will take to the rooftop of Waverley Mall, Waverley Bridge in Edinburgh, with a vibrant, lively outdoor celebration of Make Music Day, showcasing leisure time music makers and the colour they bring to the Scottish musical landscape. Plus, the Storytelling Court and Café in Edinburgh will play host to a day of music with choirs and acoustic instruments; performances beginning every half an hour.
    More info and times

    Search for an event near you

    Events are being added every day and will be until 21 June.  So if you’d like to know what’s happening in your area, keep an eye on the Make Music Day website, where you can search by genre, performance type and location:


    Want to put on your own event?

    It’s not too late!

    Make Music Day is a day of music performed by anyone, enjoyed by everyone, and filled with as many different events as possible in all sorts of spaces and places. You can sign-up and contribute as a performer, venue or event organiser.

    You can get inspiration from the many successful events that have taken place in previous years – covering a multitude of genres, locations and styles.

  • Music news round-up

    In case you missed them, we’ve rounded up a selection of music news and reports that have been making headlines recently.


    Music news round up
    Succeeding in retail is all about experience

    Steve Dennis has written extensively about how retail needs to reinvent itself in the age of digital disruption. Here, he explores exactly what we are talking about when we refer to in-store “experiences”
    Read more…

    New project launches to assess injury prevention in musicians

    Liverpool Philharmonic, Help Musicians UK and Liverpool John Moores University have launched an initiative to research injury prevention in professional musicians, focusing on common and significant injuries experienced by orchestral musicians.

    The research was commissioned in response to UK and international research findings, which have consistently raised concerns regarding the prevalence and impact of ‘playing-related’ injuries for musicians.
    Read more…

    AIM launches new regional champions initiative around the UK

    The Association Of Independent Music has launched a new regional champions initiative that seeks to ensure its resources and expertise are available to independent music firms across the UK. This includes setting up three regional hubs – for the north of England, Northern Ireland and Scotland – with more to follow.

    Each hub will have an ‘ambassador’ and a ‘champion’ who will be, says AIM, be “tasked with creating strong local networks among the independent music companies in their areas and providing support, expertise and access to resources”.
    Read more…

    Youth Music calls for end to unpaid internships in music sector

    Matt Griffiths, CEO of music education charity Youth Music, has called on the music industry and the arts at large to put an end to unpaid internships and low paid work. He cited the charity’s own Sound Of The Next Generation research that found that 67% of young people make music but feel a music career is out of reach for financial reasons.
    Read more…

    Music industry reports

    Notable reports released recently include:

    Impact of Brexit on Musicians

    The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), the professional body for the UK’s musicians published its fourth report into the effects of Brexit on the music profession, titled Impact of Brexit on Musicians.

    The research was conducted earlier this year and reveals that almost 50% of the 2000 respondents identified an impact on their professional work since the 2016 EU referendum result – 95% of whom said it was negative.

    Download the report here


    Youth Music logo
    Exchanging Notes

    Youth Music published their report,  Exchanging Notes, detailing the impact of an in-depth four year project.  They wanted to see what would happen if young people at risk of disengagement, low attainment or exclusion from school had access to a creative and inspiring music curriculum that was sustained over four years.

    The findings demonstrate that music in schools has the potential to re-engage young people in education, develop their confidence, resilience and self-belief, and create a more positive attitude to learning.

    Download the report here

    Next Stage

    Attitude is Everything has found that concert venues are frequently failing to provide adequate access and facilities.

    Of the respondents to the survey of nearly 100 deaf and disabled musicians, 70% said they had kept their disability hidden because of worries it would damage a relationship with a venue, promoter or festival, while two thirds said they had to “compromise their health or wellbeing” to be able to perform live.

    Download the report

    Royal College of Music
    National inequality in access to A-Level music education

    New research commissioned and released by the Royal College of Music has shown a correlation between lack of A-Level music provision and social deprivation.

    Researchers at the Centre for the Study of Practice and Culture in Education at Birmingham City University used POLAR (Participation of Local Areas) data – compiled from national census data and university admissions data to give a rating of the levels of access to higher education – to find out how likely young people are to participate in music A-Level across the UK and how this varies by geographical area.

    Download the report

  • Turning the tables on traditional music education

    Recent reports on music education in schools have highlighted the need for a different approach that accounts for the musical experiences that young people are having outside the classroom.  We profile two organisations that are using DJ-ing and turntablism as a way to do this – with significant results.

    Despite the fact that huge numbers of young people are passionate about music, these numbers don’t correspond with the number of students choosing music at GCSE level. There are many fundamental reasons for this, such as lack of funding, prioritisation of core subjects – but it has also been increasingly noted that the curriculum doesn’t always offer school students music lessons that engage their interests.  Also, many teachers don’t have the practical skills, knowledge or resources to deliver the kind of alternative music lessons that have been known to inspire and attract students.

    Young people benefit from a music curriculum that’s more tailored to them

    The latest report to examine music education in schools, Exchanging Notes, confirms a hypothesis that many have suspected for a long time: young people can benefit hugely from a more engaging music curriculum that is less focused on grades, supports their wellbeing and connects their musical lives both in and out of school.  The report, commissioned by Youth Music, presents the results of their innovative four-year partnership project between music organisations and schools that sought to combine formal music education approaches with more non-formal community-based music.

    The report makes a number of recommendations, including ‘Music teachers should be given the time and space to develop external partnerships to support young people’s engagement, wellbeing and progression’ and, ‘The music industries (including charities and Music Education Hubs) should provide strategy and investment to support the next generation of musicians.’

    Enter the DJ decks

    The good news is that several musical projects are having considerable success in both these areas.  Central to these projects is Turntablism (using the traditional vinyl) and mix DJ-ing (can involve vinyl, CDs, MP3s) The turntable is now recognised as a musical instrument by both AQA, OCR and CDC examination boards, and last year DJ-ing as a musical performance was added to the GCSE music curriculum. Bradley Smith of Leicestershire Music Hub and FutureDJs are both actively working with schools and teachers to introduce Turntablism and DJ-ing, respectively, to their music lessons,  giving them the opportunity to explore different areas of music and performance that they may be very familiar with outside school, but has barely been acknowledged in formal music education – until now.

    Smith, who has had a passion for music production and DJ-ing since watching a DMC Turntablist competition at 16, developed the Turntablism unit in 2016. To date, 15 schools have had the unit, with several of those making repeat bookings.

    A Turntablism class set up

    The Hub has already received 9 bookings for next academic year across primary and secondary schools, and has already supported a pupil through their OCR Music GCSE using scratch DJ-ing as their discipline of choice. The lessons are delivered on a ‘whole class ensemble’ basis. One school managed to teach 650 people, which included Year 7, 8 and 9 students and some staff.

    The scheme has several aims. “Firstly, the unit gives access to pupils to explore using turntables as instruments by learning the basics of scratch DJ-ing – learning the techniques of basic scratches and an adapted form of graphic notation to read and compose pieces”, Smith explains. “Adding to this, they get to see several turntablism routines across a variety of genres, performed by a professional turntablist.

    Primary turntablism

    Primary school children in a turntablism class

    “Secondly, students can learn and discuss a variety of standard music curriculum outcomes and skills, including performing a range of scratches of varying note value, time keeping and pulse, composition opportunities, performance opportunities, paired performance, arrangement/sections, the use of repetition in a theme etc.” The unit lasts for 10 weeks and 7-inch portable turntables are used as they are light weight, small and are more affordable to buy than full size 12-inch turntables.

    Training the trainers

    For a scheme like this to flourish, it’s important that music teachers are empowered to keep it going. “Teachers receive one day of training before delivering the unit which helps to broaden their understanding of contemporary music making, specific to the genre.  In the training, they go on the journey of the learner, practising a variety of scratch techniques and learning and performing a range of composed pieces.”

    DJ-ing is the Future

    Just like Leicestershire Music Hub, the organisation FutureDJs, founded in 2016, are helping to transform how children experience music at school. Their founders Austen and Scott Smart helped to write the syllabus for the addition of turntables to the list of recognised musical instruments at GCSE level.

    “The inclusion of DJ-ing on exam board syllabi is a new and exciting prospect with plenty of room to grow,” sales and marketing manager Claire Le Tissier explains.  “The exam boards are clear about the skills and requirements of a DJ performance at GCSE, but as with any instrument, lessons and hands-on experience are invaluable when getting to grips with the basics.”

    FutureDJs provide lessons on a peripatetic basis and have taught over 450 aspiring DJs at 35 schools around the country. This number is growing rapidly. “Schools are seeing the benefit of connecting young people with their music departments through the music they listen to and understand. Every student who learns with us is a student with a new fascination for music — and potentially a new enthusiasm for studying music further.”


    Future DJs

    Like Leicestershire Music Hub, FutureDJs can teach music teachers as well as students, to help them to be confident working with aspiring DJs and including electronic music in their classroom, despite their own musical background.

    Introducing more genres to the classroom

    The turntable makes it easy to introduce forms of music that children may be more immediately familiar with – dance, hip-hop and grime beats go hand in hand with the turntable.  “Most of our practise backing beats are in a Hip-Hop style genre”, says Leicestershire’s Smith. “However, during the unit, they also experience short turntablism routines working in a range of other genres including, Drum and Bass, Big Beat, RnB and many more.”

    FutureDJs teach multiple genres across the whole spectrum of electronic music. “Knowledge of all genres, techniques and DJ-ing cultures helps students to value and appreciate all the music they hear in a whole new way. All our tutors are encouraged to explore the genres that their students are interested in, and develop the genre-specific skills that goes with them”, says Le Tissier.

    Getting your first decks

    For anyone looking to take their passions further, it may be worth investing in some decks. There are a number of factors to bear in mind before buying such as portability, ease of use and value for money. Pioneer has long been regarded as one of the go-to brands, and FutureDJs recommends two of their models.  “We think that either the Pioneer DDJ-200 or the DDJ-400 Rekordbox DJ Controller would be a great first set of decks. They are affordable, portable, easy to use, and good for small hands. You do also need a laptop/desktop computer to use the DDJ-400, but it has everything a student will need to become an accomplished DJ and they resemble the format of industry standard kit. Any over ear headphones will work to start with, and we recommend the Pioneer DM-40 speakers.”

    Pioneer 200

    Pioneer DDJ-200 – recommended entry level decks

    Partnerships are the way forward

    These organisations both show how some of the recommendations made in Youth Music’s Exchanging Notes report can work when put into practice.  Working with external partners has brought significant benefits for the schools concerned and made a lasting impact on the students.

    As FutureDJs put it, “We want to connect young people to music through DJ-ing. By teaching them the skills of DJ-ing in school, we fire their passion for music. Through learning to DJ, students can learn the fundamentals of music and open a gateway to a whole new world of music production, songwriting and composing.”

    Mark O’Donnell, Master at Westminster Under School, agrees. “FutureDJs offer something unique and new for schools, combining musical creativity with their passion for, and insight into, electronic music. They’re articulate and resourceful, and have an amazing sound system that will impress any child and teacher with an interest in using new technologies for sound.”

    Sandro Charmers

    FutureDJs student Sandro Charmers has made history by opening the Amsterdam Open Air Festival on 1st June 2019. At 13-years old he’s the youngest UK DJ ever to open a festival – anywhere in the world.

    Bradley Smith is also working on developing things further. “We are now offering pupils and schools the option to hire turntables from us, I am developing more resources for the pupils to access and practise along with and, this year, I am hosting the first ever Leicestershire Schools Scratch competition for the pupils and schools who have taken part in the unit of work. The competition is being judged by myself and two DMC champion Turntablists and we are combining the day with workshops for the pupils to learn some advanced techniques. From this, I hope to start a continuation “masterclass” where young people from the competition sign up to workshop days where we meet up every half term to exchange rhythms and practise ambitious techniques.”

    Smith is also very keen that other hubs adopt the scheme: “We are currently working with another hub to make it part of their offer from September 2019. There have been other hubs show interest and we are in discussion with several.”


    Natalie Bedeau