Welsh School children Rock out Junior Music Academy
Talented students who would not otherwise have been able to afford music tuition were offered Pop and Rock instrumental lessons, ensemble workshops, and technology classes as part of the ‘Junior Music Academy’ project at the ATRiuM in Cardiff. This project was organised by Glamorgan University in partnership with Beacons for Wales, Roland UK and Rockschool, and included participants aged between 11 and 19 years of age.
University of Glamorgan students, under the leadership of Dr Paul Carr, Head of the Music Academy at Glamorgan went into four schools in Cardiff and Rhondda Cynon Taf and conducted interviews and focus groups with the pupils there . The purpose of this was to conduct preliminary research into the best ways of engaging an 11- 19 year age group with music, so that the project leaders could best implement their innovative ‘Junior Music Academy’ project at the ATRiuM in Cardiff. Afterwards, the students were invited to come to ATRiuM and partake in workshops and activities, including recording a small project.
When asked what made him want to organise this project, Dr Carr said:
‘There were no ongoing Saturday morning music schools that were aimed explicitly at popular music. Additionally, the fantastic facilities and opportunities we have at ATRiuM were not being used on a Saturday. Finally, I felt a responsibility to involve the local community in the work that we do in Cardiff.’
The benefits of projects like Junior Music Academy are that communities learn about the work that goes on in their local universities , whilst universities are also enriched by learning from the communities. School pupils going into the ATRiuM were inspired by the impressive facilities, which according to Dr Carr ‘assists the whole process of demystifying the university experience’ for children. He says:
‘I believe that public engagement is an essential mechanism of informing local communities about what actually takes place within government buildings. The prime object of this project was to attempt to break down any barriers that are there, and it was surprising how many children were either considering any or already taking GCSE music who were not even aware of the ATRiuM’s existence.’
The Music Academy project was so successful that, another long term Rock Music Academy was developed subsequently, with many of the Glamorgan University Undergraduates that worked on the first project continuing to be involved. According to Dr Carr, the personal development of these students throughout the project was remarkable. He said:
‘It was fascinating to see the positive way that university students communicated with school pupils – a factor some of them were nervous about’
‘Seeing my students’ confidence develop in terms of relating professionally to myself as a colleague, and with school teachers and pupils was a highlight for me. I also saw my students’ abilities as communicators and teachers develop.’
As a result of this project all of the undergraduate students involved have taken to teaching in some way, with one being accepted onto a teacher training college, and with some being offered work in one of the participating schools. All four of the students will be involved in the Saturday morning music school.
Projects like this not only benefit communities, they also benefit universities, as the excursions into schools and the reciprocal visits to the ATRiuM enabled researchers to build relationships with both school teachers and their pupils, which resulted in opportunities to explain their research, thus raising their profile within the community.
Q& A with Dr Paul Carr
What were the most rewarding aspects of your project?
‘The sheer joy of school pupils as they make music at the ATRiuM, and the fact that of the talented pupils that engaged with the project, some have committed to getting onto one of the music related courses at ATRiuM.’
Would you have considered doing this project without beacon funding?
‘I don’t think it would have been possible to engage with the school community, as this is not a sector I am involved with anymore in my daily duties as an academic. It enabled me to be involved in a project that would otherwise not have been financially possible. Retrospectively, I now realise that public engagement has real potential both for the communities and its researchers.
Watch the video here -
To learn more about the Junior Rock Music Academy that followed this Beacon project watch this documentary
Feature article in April edition of the Wales Culture Exchange Newsletter
The Music academy website
The work of the Music Academy
New Music Industry Entrepeneurship Degree
Lead: Dr Paul Carr, Cardiff School of Creative and Cultural Industries, University of Glamorgan