The consultancy offer was created in response to numerous approaches from Music Education Hubs and cultural organisations seeking guidance and support which was beyond the scope of our funding from the National Foundation for Youth Music, and beyond their capacity or in-house expertise.
The top five areas of need that we are approached by organisations to help them with, in order of priority, are:
- Youth voice and governance
- Strategic support
- Mapping and needs analysis
- Continuing professional development (CPD)
- Communications support
Our consultancy offer explained
Youth voice and governance
The demand around youth voice and governance support has grown significantly since this was highlighted as a core recommendation in The importance of music: A National Plan for Music Education (Department for Education, 2011). Music Education Hubs and cultural organisations tell us that they struggle with involving young people in informing their plans. By the end of 2016 we have worked with 17 organisations enabling them to embed youth voice through staff youth voice training, delivering youth consultations, and implementing youth fora and young leaders groups.
A Sound Connections research project, ReWired (2016), funded by the National Foundation for Youth Music, was a year-long inquiry seeking out the different ways in which youth voice is happening across the country and shone a light on some of the very best practice. The research resulted in an online map of youth voice nationally, case studies, resources and a short film, and continues to grow as a bank of evidence and resources. ReWired has helped organisations consider how best to develop youth voice in their regions, and we have recently been approached by three music services requesting support for them to develop their own youth voice mechanisms. This follows on from successful consultancy projects with Brighton, Bristol and Gloucestershire music services.
“Sound Connections is the only organisation with the sensibility to understand the environment to such an all-encompassing degree. Importantly they have the ability to cut through the noise and get straight to the heart of what young people want and need”.
Bristol Music Education Hub (2016)
Our consultancy offer around strategy and implementing organisational change has had a transformative impact. Past commissions developing music education strategies in the London borough of Newham and Bristol during 2015-16 have resulted in innovation and change in how these Music Education Hubs are working with young people in their localities. More recently we have researched and created a vocal strategy for Essex Music Education Hub, and we are currently working with Islington Council to develop a music education strategy for the borough and deliver a five-year implementation plan.
“Sound Connections has been a valuable partner for Essex Music Education Hub. Their work on our vocal strategy demonstrated great attention to detail; an open-minded, effective approach to collaborative work; and, crucially, a valuable strategic awareness of the music education landscape in 2016. They certainly have their fingers ‘on the pulse’.”
(Essex Music Services, 2016)
Mapping and needs
The demand across London and the rest of the United Kingdom for mapping and needs analysis has increased significantly since 2012, partly due to strategic funding from the National Foundation for Youth Music, after the launch of Mapping non-formal music provision and social need in London (Sound Connections, 2012). This was an extensive research and mapping report of non-formal music provision for children and young people in challenging circumstances in London. Since its launch the report has been used by numerous organisations and individuals to provide evidence of need and has resulted in a number of successful funding applications.
Continuing professional development (CPD)
Both Making Music Matter (Greater London Authority, 2010) and The importance of music: A National Plan for Music Education (Department for Education, 2011) identified lack of expertise and confidence in the music education workforce. More recently the Paul Hamlyn Foundation report, Inspiring Music for All (PHF, 2014) highlighted ‘low teacher confidence and lack of engagement with post-qualification CPD and professional networks’.
In response to the needs of the music education workforce identified through this study, we have developed a comprehensive, needs-driven training offer for music education hub staff, teachers and musicians who need to develop their skills, knowledge and understanding of work, particularly with young people in challenging circumstances. We have delivered successful CPD events for Havering and Essex Music Education Hubs and are currently in discussion with six south west London Hubs around delivering a conference on supporting teachers working in special educational needs settings.
“Thank you for putting together such an engaging and valuable session for our teachers …It was faultlessly managed from your side. Please pass on my thanks to the workshop leaders… their sessions were absolutely right for the needs of the delegates and all three are very fine presenters.”
(Singing consultancy work for Havering Music Hub, 2015)
Our communications support provides organisations with our expertise and a greater capacity to engage with their various stakeholders, including music peripatetic staff and teachers in schools. From an initial request to deliver a termly newsletter for Lewisham Music Hub demand has grown to include work with Southwark, Lambeth and Greenwich Hubs.
Click here to watch the Royal Greenwich Music Hub promotional film, produced by Sound Connections
Click here to read more and sign up to the South Riverside Music Partnership (SRMP) newsletter, produced in partnership between Sound Connections and Lewisham Music Hub