Take Note was a county-wide consultation with children and young people about music making in Wiltshire, which took place between March and June 2016.
Key findings are below and you can download an ‘infographic’ summary here – this can be used as an A3 poster or smaller handout and is being circulated to Wiltshire schools.
The consultation was commissioned by Wiltshire Music Connect and undertaken by Nell Farrally and Jane Harwood (Freelance Consultants). It’s purpose was:
- To identify young people’s opinions, needs and aspirations in order to inform Wiltshire Music Connect’s planning, partnership working and use of resources.
- To provide a snapshot of young people’s involvement in music making in Wiltshire, which could be revisited on future occasions to measure the progress of Wiltshire Music Connect’s work.
To the best of our knowledge, this was the first time such a consultation about music making had been undertaken in Wiltshire.
In total, 769 people took part in the consultation. The key findings are really important to us and we’re already factoring them into our current and planned work including – subsidy schemes, project funding and guidance materials.
They are as follows:
Young people’s awareness of how music contributes to their well-being, from helping them to deal with stress and emotions, to being a way of making new friends, was very high. They value music as a creative activity and as a way to express themselves. These views were expressed consistently by all the groups of children and young people who took part and through all data collection methods.
Children and young people who are doing lots of music making outside of school have an appetite to do more. They want to explore a wider range of ensembles and performance opportunities, and to try new instruments. Their experiences of music making gives them greater perceptions of what is possible.
Young people really value having places where the can make music informally with their peers. This includes using practice rooms at school during lunchtimes and using other rehearsal spaces to play in bands. They also want more opportunities to perform to an audience.
The needs and interests of some of the targeted groups of children (young carers, those with health needs, young people with SEN) are no different to other young people: they want to try new things, make more music, and they recognise that music contributes to their well-being.
Music in schools was generally spoken of positively although some older young people had issues with being taught about genres and instruments which didn’t interest them, particularly classical music and recorders. Some young people were critical of the school music curriculum, particularly concerned GCSE music. Another issue raised about music at schools was a school informing students that A level music would not be offered if student numbers were low.
In all of the primary schools who were involved in the consultation, children have access to lots of different music making opportunities within school, but there is as large contrast in the outside of school music making which children are doing. Significantly fewer children at primary schools in Tidworth and Melksham are doing music outside of school, compared with children at primary schools in Salisbury.
The provision of non-formal music making opportunities, and those which focus on rock and pop genres, is patchy. In some community areas, local providers have replaced music making opportunities which were formerly offered by Youth Centres, whilst in other areas, this has not happened.
The progression of young people whose musical interests are outside of western classical music and the school music curriculum, does not appear to receive the same support from music educators as young classical musicians receive.
The greatest barrier to music making which children and young people spoke about was financial. The majority of comments about finances concerned the cost of lessons. The second most common issue around finances was the cost of instruments and equipment. Other issues which were mentioned less frequently were the cost of rehearsal and recording facilities.
The most common ways children and young people find out about music is from their family, their school teachers and instrumental teachers, and social media. Facebook is the predominant social media site young people use to find out about music – other platforms were mentioned infrequently. Some parents felt that they lacked information about opportunities which are available and that they didn’t know how to find out.
A bit more about the approaches used.
The consultation used research questions to explore 7 themes:
- An overview of music making in Wiltshire: what, where and with whom?
- Views & opinions: what’s good, what could be better, what’s missing?
- Challenges and barriers.
- Transfer effects: well-being, life skills and other learning.
- Finding out about music.
A variety of data collection methods were used (written questionnaires, an online survey, focus groups and case studies) to reach a wide range of young people, whilst also seeking a depth of understanding about young people’s experiences of music making.
In total, 769 children, young people, parents and carers took part in the consultation. We thank them all for their contributions.
Many settings and professionals in the education, arts and young people’s sector supported the consultation by facilitating the children and young people with whom they work to get involved. This included schools, arts venues, ensembles for young people, youth groups, alternative education provision and infrastructure organisations. The consultation aimed to engage specific groups of young people who were perceived as experiencing barriers to music making. Young carers, looked after children and young people with health needs took part, thanks to the support of professionals. Involving children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities was more challenging.
For more information, please contact Nick Howdle in the Wiltshire Music Connect Team