So what have we been up to since the lockdown began? This is a press release published by  Black Country Arts giving a very brief overview of the way we have continued to support and develop the Music Education of students in the city.

“Since the withdrawal of Music Service staff from schools we have been exceptionally busy to ensure our students continue their music education. Firstly, we created a YouTube channel and staff recorded 200 differentiated instrumental videos for home study. You can access our YouTube channel here     On this website we created/gathered numerous resources for parents and schools. We released a staff performance video of Sir Duke https://youtu.be/04aFtBodPd4. followed by a series of online concerts featuring students, staff and alumni. We created a new online registration process for lessons and groups (Orchestras, bands etc.) working with schools to provide 1 to 1 online tuition for students from year 10 and above. For Year 9 and below we created a bespoke set of lessons using google classrooms featuring a diverse and inclusive range of styles and backgrounds. These followed a 2 week cycle of differentiated lesson videos based around a piece which we can use for large scale performances in the future. These lessons linked to regular weekly instrument specific live sessions for students to discuss their work with staff online.

We began with “Blinded by your Grace”   (Stormzy) featuring local rapper Vital which launched with another collective staff video recorded in homes and shot at Bantock House which has attracted excellent media coverage. https://youtu.be/R4SBBeCzmUw For Whole class instrumental lessons we recorded and distributed a series of 10 pre-instrumental lessons (plus extension work videos for students who have instruments at home) also incorporating vocal work adhering to current advice. We have designed and commissioned effective instrument coverings for brass and woodwind for use on our return to face to face lessons in the majority of our schools (those able to accomdate us) in the second half of the Autumn term. We have been involved with the Civic Choir and their video of “Count on Me” and, as well as our music duties, have supported the council through distribution of laptops and ppe. We have have relaunching our offer of 13 Music service groups including bands, orchestras, rocknpop, choir and dhol ensembles all initially in a digital format. Despite the pandemic the level of SLA renewal has demonstrated the quality of our modified offer and a continuing commitment from schools and parents alike. We have maintained our impressive 80% plus engagement with schools, colleges, special schools and referral units in the city and continue to plan, appraise and review the successful and viable delivery of our curriculum for a variety of scenarios whilst ensuring CPD is in place to support Music Service Staff. We are investigating possible new performance and rehearsal opportunities and we continue to engage effectively with our hub partners and the council”

N.B. since this article was submitted, following detailed planning and discussions with Public Health Wolverhampton including specific risk assessments for the Music Service we have started returning to teach in schools, The Music Service groups at Graiseley which have members from schools all over the City will return when it is safe to do so and these registered members now have online resources and videos from their conductors/leaders. A comprehensive programme of Instrumental and Vocal Musical activities are being planned, as well as a very special collaboration wth the council. Our latest addition to resources is a regular Song of the Week, the first of  which has been created and distributed to all Primary and Special schools. There are so many new initiatives we have undertaken it’s impossible to list them all here, but In short, it continues to be an incredibly busy time and we would like to thank everyone (not least the staff of the Music service and everyone who works with us, contracts us, supports us, parents, students, hub partners etc.)  for their continued commitment to ensure the very best Music education for our youngsters in exceptional circumstances.