Music Education Solutions

MES 10th Birthday Party Photo Gallery 8th June 2018


Music Education Solutions has been nominated for not one, but TWO awards!

We are finalists in the Educational Resource Provider of the Year category at the Education Awards, alongside the Shakespeare Schools Foundation and Shoutout UK. Judging has already taken place, and the winner will be announced on 6th July at a ceremony at Edgbaston County Cricket Ground.

Our pBuzz KS1 Music Teaching Resource which we created in partnership with Warwick Music Group has been shortlisted in the Best Music Resource category at the Teach Primary Resource Awards. The winners will be featured in the October issue of Teach Primary.

We’re really delighted to have been nominated for both these awards!

Every month in 2018 we’re giving away fabulous prizes to celebrate our 10th Birthday. June is our birthday month, so we have an extra special prize on offer!

You could win a free 1.5 hour INSET session for your school, music hub or service!

Check our Facebook page for all the details of how to enter. Good luck!

For a limited period, we are offering early bird discounts on bookings for our three main events, the Singing Strategy Symposium, Curriculum Music Conference, and First Access Forum. Check the Courses and Events page for full details.

To celebrate Music Education Solutions® 10th Birthday, we’re posting our top ten tips for different types of teaching each month during 2018! This month’s list is written by Dr Elizabeth Stafford

1. Don’t listen to anyone who says whole class instrumental teaching ‘doesn’t work!’ If it doesn’t work for them, it’s because they’re not doing it right! There is a reason that so much funding has consistently been put into whole class instrumental teaching since 2003, and it’s not just to do with economies of scale!

2. It doesn’t matter what you call it. Wider Opportunities, First Access, WCIT, WCET, it’s all the same thing! So don’t get hung up on the terminology. Although, if we could have a vote just to call it one thing and stick to it, you wouldn’t hear us complaining!

3. Treat it as a music lesson, not an instrumental lesson. This is where most people who think ‘whole class instrumental teaching doesn’t work’ go wrong (see above.) It’s not about perfecting instrumental technique and getting everyone to Grade 1 standard at the same time as they would have got there with individual lessons (although good for you if you can do that too – you overachiever, you!) It’s about using an instrument as the carrier for musical learning – after all, the majority are probably not going to carry on playing that instrument at the end of the programme, so why not focus on some transferrable musical skills that they can take forward instead!

4. Watch it before you do it. If you haven’t taught whole class instrumental before, don’t assume that it’s just like teaching a normal small group lesson but with loads more kids. It’s a different beast entirely. And if you’re a primary teacher who’s introducing a whole class instrumental programme, don’t assume it’s just like primary music, but with instruments. The best whole class programmes meet in the middle between instrumental and primary music pedagogy, and the best way to understand how that works is to watch someone else do it (as long as that person isn’t one of the ‘it doesn’t work naysayers!). If you can’t get out to watch a lesson live, there are some great video examples on the Music Mark and Inspire Music websites.

5. Involve the school. Even if your whole class instrumental programme is used as PPA cover, it doesn’t mean that’s the end of any chance of school involvement. Whole class instrumental programmes are most effective when they are integrated with the other musical things going on at school. At the very least you should find out what the pupils have done before, what other musical things they will be doing during the year, and what the school is hoping you will have covered by the time you hand them back at the end of the programme. Which leads us on to…

6. Have a continuation plan. It would be a shame if all the things that your pupils learn with you get forgotten once your whole class instrumental programme ends. ACE encourages music hubs to have continuation programmes in place, but of course not all schools are willing or able to host these. And what about the children who don’t elect to join the instrumental continuation groups? Chat with the music coordinator to ensure that the school is ready to develop all the pupils musically from where you left off, and is ready to help some of the pupils access instrumental continuation routes, even if these are not available on site.

7. Be creative. We’ve already said that this is a music lesson not an instrumental lesson, so that means you can include elements such as improvisation and composition which might not ordinarily be included in a traditional instrumental lesson. Even if your pupils have only mastered a couple of notes, they can still make up a short tune of their own to share with the class – plus while your pupils are busy getting creative, this gives you an opportunity to go round and assist anyone who really does need some extra technical input!

8. Use your voices. Did we mention that this was not just an instrumental lesson?! Using singing and chanting is a fantastic way to internalise music. Whether you want to get to know a melody before playing it, explore concepts such as dynamics and timbre, or simply develop a stronger sense of pulse, singing activities can be just the ticket!

9. Read the research. Music Education Solutions®, Music Mark, Youth Music and even Ofsted have all published reports about whole class instrumental teaching. There is a wealth of research out there for you to discover, which will help you to plan and improve your whole class instrumental programmes.

10. Attend the First Access Forum. This national event for whole class instrumental teachers happens each year in June and is a great opportunity to chat to other teachers about your whole class instrumental challenges! This year’s event is in Birmingham on 8th June 2018, or catch next year’s event in Leeds on 25th June 2019!


Throughout 2018 we are giving away a different prize every month to celebrate our 10th Birthday!

Our May competition prize is a pair of tickets to the First Access Forum, which takes place in Birmingham on 8th June.

To be in with a chance of winning, pop on over to our Facebook page!


First-Access-Forum-Logo-Final1-952x1024First Access Course copy














To celebrate Music Education Solutions® 10th Birthday, we’re posting our top ten tips for different aspects of music and arts education each month during 2018! This month’s Top Ten gives advice on applying for Artsmark, and is written by Deborah Welch.


1 Firstly – what is Artsmark?  Artsmark is the creative quality standard for schools – it is accredited by Arts Council England and it provides a clear framework for teachers to plan, develop and evaluate arts, culture and creativity across the curriculum. The award is a practical tool for enriching the arts provision whatever the starting point.

2. Who can apply for it? It can be delivered by secondary, primary, special schools, independent schools and Pupils referral units in England.

3. So what are the benefits? Artsmark brings learning to life through arts and culture – pupil confidence can be increased with creativity in the curriculum, it can help encourage leadership skills and pupil voice and it can support children who do not find the curriculum easy.

4. How will it help my school? Embarking on the Artsmark journey will support your school in accessing practical resources as well as connecting with local cultural organisations. It will also give you an opportunity to reflect on the current strengths in your creative work across the setting and identify future plans and direction

5. But what do I have to actually do? Artsmark is all online so once you are registered you will be able to keep the paperwork in one folder – you can download the templates here. However, it is important to realise that Artsmark is very much a school development tool. It should be closely linked with your school development plan and once you begin to plan you should allow a minimum of 12 months to complete the award – the most successful schools take the full two years. You start by attending a Development Day run by your local bridge organisation. You can find your local Bridge Organisation here.

6. Loads of paperwork then? Thankfully no! You start with a self-assessment document which helps you audit the level of provision you already have. Then you attend a development day (which is free) where you will spend time considering the two pieces of paperwork – the Statement of Commitment and the Case Study. The Statement of Commitment is the beginning of the Artsmark journey and you outline your plans in a framework of six questions – you can only use 500 words for each question. Once you have completed this and had it signed by your Headteacher and Chair of Governors you submit it to Arts Council England. You don’t submit the Case study document until you are ready for a level of the award.

7. What are the levels? The levels are Silver, Gold and Platinum. Your self-assessment document will help you decide which level you feel your creativity and arts level currently reflects. It is important to remember that the level you are awarded when you submit your Case study is based on the impact your Artsmark journey has had on your school. Silver levels tend to reflect school that are emerging in developing their creativity throughout the curriculum, staff are developing expertise and there are clear results. Gold reflects schools that are really embedding creativity and developing best practice and Platinum school are those which are very much stretching both staff and young people, are able to offer advice and are making a big difference,

8. So how long does the case study need to be? Well, actually – not very! There are five questions – each one with a word limit of 500 words This is a very reflective document – you have the opportunity to explain how effective your Artsmark journey has been and outline the difference it has made to your school in terms of attainment and progress. You will also have the opportunity to highlight unexpected outcomes from your original plans

9. What else can I use to help me? You can use the Quality Principles to help you plan your Artsmark journey – they can be a useful tool while planning, delivering and reflecting upon your Artsmark journey.They are embedded throughout the new Artsmark award to better support schools to achieve their ambitions for high quality arts and cultural provision.

10. Ok – I think this might really work for my setting – what next? You can find out lots more at here and subscribe for the regular newsletter. Contact your local bridge organization to find out what support they are offering – many will do free briefings before you commit. You can also find out about Artsmark Partners – organisations who will have a range of offers for schools who are enrolled on the Artsmark journey.












Copyright © 2018 Music Education Solutions® Limited. All Rights Reserved.




Our February #MESis10 competition prize was a pair of tickets to the Curriculum Music Conference. We think it’s fair to say that Alyson Medley was delighted with her prize!



To celebrate Music Education Solutions® 10th Birthday, we’re posting our top ten tips for different aspects of music education each month during 2018! This month’s Top Ten looks at running successful music INSET sessions, and is written by Dr Elizabeth Stafford.

  1. Remember that teachers are professionals. Maybe you’re the music expert in the room, but that doesn’t mean everyone else is completely stupid! Don’t treat teachers like pupils, but engage with them as teaching and learning experts. Explain why you’re doing each activity, and by all means get them to model the likely pupil outcomes, but don’t spend all session making them pretend to be 6 year olds, or they may start behaving like them…
  1. Personalise the Learning. You do this all day everyday with pupils, right? Well there is a whole bunch of research evidence to suggest that adults, as well as children, learn more, and are more motivated, when the learning is personalised. Don’t make your teachers sit through an hour-long session on rhythmic circle games if what they really want to know is how to lead singing effectively. Find out the teachers’ wish-list in advance and give them what they need.
  1. Acknowledge the fear. Music can be scary for some teachers, and singing can be downright terrifying! Create a safe space for your teachers in which it’s ok to make mistakes, and explain that almost everyone feels the same level of fear as they do! Teachers are so used to having to be perfect at everything all the time (thanks for that, Ofsted!) that it should be a welcome relief to spend an hour getting things wrong without judgment!
  1. Work on teacher skills first, pupil skills second. Your teachers may have had no music training whatsoever, so starting with how to teach music may not be the best option. Instead find out what level of musical skills each teacher has and then make sure you explain all the musical concepts you’ll be covering, in really basic terms, before you dive into how to teach them.
  1. There must be cake. Seriously, I can’t stress this enough. THERE MUST BE CAKE. Not only is it a delicious and motivating mid-session treat, but you can also use your cake as a simile for how the interrelated dimensions of music work together to create a successful piece of music, like the ingredients in a cake. (Although if your baking is anything like mine then best pop to M&S for a Colin the Caterpillar or you’ll totally undermine your clever metaphor…)
  1. Let them use their phones. Writing notes only gets you so far in a practical subject such as music. Audio or video-recording the activities is a much more efficient and practical way for the teachers to capture their learning, and gives them something concrete to refer to next week when they’re trying to remember ‘how that song goes…’
  1. Your session should be practical but RELEVANT. It’s no good teaching an hour’s worth of games, songs and activities if you don’t relate them to the national curriculum, and explain exactly how they can be used in the classroom. If you don’t give teachers detailed instructions for how they can use the activities, they won’t use them. Epic Learning Objective fail!
  1. Tailor the session to the available resources. There’s no point pulling out all your party pieces if they involve instruments, software or equipment that the school doesn’t have. Find out in advance what resources are available at the school and base your session around those. If you think they’re under par then by all means throw in a few titbits about what could be achieved if you had a full class set of glockenspiels, Logic Pro in the computer suite, or an authentic Balinese Gamelan….!
  1. Leave time for questions, reflection and planning. This might be the teachers’ only opportunity to think about music this week/month/term/year. Make sure you allow time for them to ask questions and reflect on how they can implement the ideas you’ve shared with them in their own classrooms, including coming up with a plan to do so. If they leave the room with a SMART goal for revitalising their music teaching then, my friend, you are winning at life!
  1. Music is meant to be fun! Even if you ignore all the other top tips*, at least make your sessions enjoyable for the teachers. This will motivate them to want to go and ‘do some music’ with their class. And who knows? You might plant the seed that inspires one of those teachers to become a musical expert!

*Please don’t, they took ages to write!







Copyright © 2018 Music Education Solutions Limited. All rights reserved.

A brand new publication for primary schools launches on 12th March 2018. Primary Music Magazine is a free online publication aimed at anyone teaching primary school music lessons, whatever their level of expertise.

Published by Music Education Solutions®, the magazine provides advice, inspiration and support on a wide variety of issues relevant to primary music teaching. The publication also brings news and views on the latest music education product and project launches, helping teachers to make informed decisions on which new initiatives to sign up for.

The magazine will be published termly, and in future issues the editorial team will be looking for ‘real life’ teachers from schools and music education hubs to contribute articles sharing their own expertise and ideas. You can follow them on Twitter @primarymusicmag to find out more.

Issue 1.0 of Primary Music Magazine can be read and downloaded for free here


Primary Music Magazine Issue 1 Cover Image