Support for Hub Partners during the lockdown (and beyond)

During these challenging times, we have been working to consider how we can continue to support not only our school members, but also our community of music educators and freelance practitioners. Although the signs suggest that some schools may start to reopen in June, it is likely that the Hub inputs will not start back in earnest until September.

Since the start of the pandemic, SoundStorm as lead partner of the Music Education Hub has wherever possible, responded in ways that has prioritised the support of our freelance community. We have honoured contracts for cancelled work and have taken steps to support the re-provisioning of the contracts that had been planned for Summer term.

Moving forward

It is unlikely that ‘business as normal’ will resume before September and even then, we will be facing a very different type of educational landscape, with the likelihood of significant restrictions and revised Codes of Conduct for school guests. Just how this impacts programmes like First Access, ensemble support, live music inputs and more will become clearer as we progress (this term) through the planning for autumn.

Future-proofing our work

We are keen to enable our freelance community to confidently take their tuition online – many of you are already there. In addition, we are also looking at how Music Hub funding may, in the medium term, be diverted into developing a range of digital resources, live stream offers and a range of other remote inputs that can still support learning and the school music curriculum.

Supporting online practice

SoundStorm does not operate a peripatetic service. We are however keen to support you to promote your online private tuition offer, and enable you to protect this source of income. We have been collecting information from each of you and will compile this on a dedicated page that we will circulate to schools who may be looking for Hub endorsed practitioners. You will need to complete this form and return it to the email address listed at the bottom of the form.

Developing alternative digital provision

The response online from the music community, both locally and nationally has been impressive but at times, equally a little overwhelming. For the time being, Arts Council England have relaxed the Hub’s conditions of funding and given us some scope to explore new ways of working including the development of digital content. At this stage, we have been encouraging many of you to explore the development of digital resources that offer continuation to our member schools where possible. We are though keen to ensure that public funding is appropriately managed and that we avoid duplicating resources that already exist.

Although we are not at this point, taking a prescriptive approach as to what form this new content takes, we do still need to quality assure the resources that you produce, which would include considerations such as appropriate branding. We also appreciate that many of our practitioners face very different challenges regarding technology, developing content and having the skills to confidently take on this new challenge.

Some initial steps you can take to prepare

  • Choose a suitable space in your home for recording. Natural light with additional room lighting will improve the quality of your videos. South-facing rooms have worked well during the recent, sunny weather.
  • Where possible, ensure the backdrop is neutral – remove personal effects to minimise any distractions.
  • Consider scripting your lessons more than normal to aid fluency in front of the camera.
  • Update any computers, tablets or other devices you may be considering using.
  • Check your Internet bandwidth – the quality of live tuition and your ability to effectively upload recordings will be significantly impacted by this.

We suggest that the format for lessons will generally not exceed 15-20 minutes. Lessons might follow your normal structure but with reduced content.

Developing content for online lessons

In partnership with Strawberry Music, guidance is now available that will help you advance your skills in developing effective yet simple online lessons, starting with Loom. This free desktop resource is an accessible way to develop presentations that can move between instrument demonstrations, backing tracks and notation. The free tutorial is available here

In addition, Walter Brewster from Strawberry Music, is offering individual support with any technical issues you may be facing, be that PC or Mac and to share ideas as to how you might structure an online lesson (pre-recorded). You can contact him by emailing walter@clarinet.org.uk

As we continue to advance this we will also be exploring how to share good practice in the development of online lessons, diversifying content and how you might need to remodel your lessons as we learn more about restrictions in schools.

Supporting your development

We are pleased to announce that we are also making available individual grants to support you to advance your skills and knowledge during lockdown. This can be accessed by completing the Application form below.

The grant is aimed at supporting you to develop skills that will further your practice and that will enhance the work you do for the Music Education Hub and benefit our community. This could include

  • Online courses
  • License fees for online platforms/resources
  • Support with technology, including software or hardware purchases

Awards are discretionary and will where possible be paid directly to the supplier. Alternatively, if paid directly to you, we will need to have a copy of a receipt of purchase and will request an update regarding your progress.

Application form