Launched in September 2019 Sounding Out is an initiative offering music lessons to local primary school children. It was set up by The King’s School Director of Music Will Bersey and the then Head of Partnerships Christina Astin to try and redress the decline in cultural capital and generational unfamiliarity with classical music, which is particularly stark for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
We opened up our music department on Saturday mornings to offer instrumental tuition to children from local primary schools. The project is a genuine attempt to increase the musical opportunities for children in Canterbury so that they can eventually progress to joining local ensembles and orchestras (and not just at King’s!).
For the pilot year we worked with four city centre schools whose Year 5 pupils (age 9 or 10) had previously experienced some whole-class music teaching. The project leader, Julie Evans, worked closely with their music coordinators and class teachers to invite children who might not otherwise have had access to musical tuition. Teachers were appointed to teach the trumpet and violin and lead our general musicianship hour “Saturday Jam”. Each beginner was given their own instrument to take home and practise on, as well as a music case and tutorial books. The King’s School funds Sounding Out, with assistance from generous donors, and families are asked to contribute just £2 per week.
We know that learning a musical instrument brings benefits for both mental health and brain development, improving motor skills, memory and even mathematical ability. The new Ofsted framework encourages “learners to develop and discover their interests and talents, developing their resilience, confidence and independence“– what better way to achieve this than through music. It’s a small step, but we hope to do our bit to reverse the widening gap between those who have access to learning a musical instrument and those who do not. As Sounding Out expands in numbers, instruments and reach in years to come, we aim make a difference to a generation of young people growing up – encouraging them to be creators as well as consumers.
Whilst the scheme has been paused during the coronavirus pandemic, we will resume lessons as soon as it is safe to do so, as well as expanding the programme to welcome a further group of children to benefit from instrumental lessons.