Earthsong Programme

The Earthsong Programme is an initiative between Bristol Music Trust and the Earthsong Foundation, and will create opportunities for over 4500 young people  in Bristol to access music education.

Currently, Whole Class Ensemble Tuition (WCET) is regarded as the first access route to music education for nearly all children in England as part of the National Plan for Music Education. Although WCET has been shown to be a popular way to engage children, the number of children progressing beyond this early stage is low particularly for schools in challenging areas and in schools with a high proportion of children with English as an additional language.

Born out of the belief that every child should be given an equitable learning environment, the Earthsong Programme was developed to start as a whole class singing programme for children in upper KS1.  Critically, it creates a level playing-field by using the child’s own instrument, the voice, to teach and embed musicianship skills ready for WCET in KS2.

Stage two of the programme expands upon their WCET development by providing instruments and lessons through Key Stage 2 (Year 4 to 6) to improve on the learning of Key Stage 1.

What are the elements of the Earthsong Programme?

The Earthsong Programme is made up of four areas.

Start with Singing

Introduces the elements of music to Year 2 (Key Stage 1) pupils in a whole class environment, earlier than the Department of Education’s WCET programme. Pupils explore the technical aspects such as pitch, timbre and rhythm alongside enjoying performance, breathing and the physicality of singing preparing the pupils for whole class instrumental sessions.

Supported Places

Instrumental music lessons in groups of 3 (for up to 30 minutes) are provided to children in Key Stage 2 in Years 4, 5 and 6 as a progression from WCET.

The aim is to encourage as many children as possible to learn an instrument and enable the continued growth of musical and personal development. The musical instrument choices focus on guitar, violin, woodwind, brass and percussion with instruments provided through a hire scheme.

Annual Celebration

All children taking part in the programme across the city will be invited to take part in an annual celebration, featuring masterclasses and performances for young people, their families and teachers.

Continued Evaluation

A longitudinal study will track the development of the young people and their achievements in this and in other parts of their schooling life.

The schools taking part in the programme are:

Ashley Down Federation Schools
Ashton Vale Primary
Bridge Farm Primary
Brunel Field Primary
Cabot Primary
Evergreen Primary Academy
Fonthill Primary
Horfield CEVC Primary
Minerva Primary Academy
Parson Street Primary
St. Mary Redcliffe CEVC Primary
St. Patricks Catholic Primary
Stoke Park Schools

Start With Singing Pilot

An initial pilot for the Earthsong Programme called Start With Singing ran in 2018 at Minerva Primary Academy in Bristol and the results demonstrated a rise in participating students overall attainment across core subjects at Key Stage 1, with up to a 26 per cent increase in pupil’s performance in STEM activities, including reading, writing and maths. The pilot also showed an increase in personal enjoyment, confidence as well as other social and cultural benefits.

The aims of this innovative singing programme are:

    • To encourage an understanding and appreciation of the elements of music through singing
    • To encourage confidence and enjoyment in performing in small groups and in front of an audience
    • To prepare Year 2 learners for whole class ensemble tuition in Key Stage 2

Bristol Plays Music worked in collaboration with class teachers from Minerva Primary Academy to develop a scheme of work using techniques and resources developed by Sing Up, The Voices Foundation and the British Kodaly Academy covering the elements of music; Rhythm, Melody, Harmony, Timbre, Form, Texture and Dynamics.

These were put into practice in the classroom by Minerva Academy’s teachers for 30 minutes every week over the course of the pilot.

Download the full findings below

Start with Singing Pilot Findings

Hear more about the impact of Start With Singing from the teachers at Minerva Primary in the video below:

We are already seeing last year’s Start With Singing pupils, now in Yr3 have progressed much further with the concepts of pitch, tempo, rhythm etc (compared to last year without SWS). They have developed this essential musical language and they see their place within music. Listening skills are much sharper and understanding of how this is at the core of musicianship and an essential skills – Rich Lawton, Music Coordinator at Minerva Primary Academy

We are delighted with the very positive introduction to music learning Start with Singing is providing for our year 2 learners.  Not only is it giving pupils taking part a high-quality and extremely enjoyable introduction to the joy of music, it is also strongly supporting our work in helping all pupils become creative, resilient and confident individuals in all aspects of school life – Pete Hallam, Principal of Minerva Primary Academy