By Stuart Whatmore
Did you know that there is an organisation in our area that exists just to make sure that children and young people have outstanding music education in and out of school? If not, well there is and they are called the Tri-borough Music Hub (TBMH). This article explains who they are and what they do, but the key thing for anyone who doesn’t know them is that they are actively seeking to raise their profile, and for new audiences to support them in their mission to increase representation and inclusion in music education.
In every geographical area of England there is a Music Education Hub that is funded by the Department for Education (DfE), through Arts Council England (ACE), and their role is to have a strategic overview of all music education based learning that happens in and out of school for children aged 5-18. Darren Henley (interviewed in last month’s issue) is the CEO of ACE and recently gave a keynote speech with the TBMH at the Royal Albert Hall.
The TBMH is the lead organisation that oversees the delivery of music education in Hammersmith and Fulham; Kensington and Chelsea; and City of Westminster. The TBMH delivers an extensive programme of musical learning in and out of school, working with schools, pupils, the teaching workforce and the community. To give some context to their reach, each year they work with almost 90% of all 166 state-maintained schools in some way either directly teaching in the school, organising performance events for the pupils, supporting the teachers, or sign-posting them to opportunities with the TBMH’s quality-assured list of partners.
Outside of school hours the Hub runs a varied programme of weekly activity for more than 600 pupils including a range of choirs, orchestras, ensembles, Saturday centres; and linked to these are high-profile performance events in professional venues. Amidst a hectic performance programme, the recent stand-out events have been the “Battle of the Bands” at Bush Hall with celebrity judges including Gareth Malone and Guy Chambers; choirs performing in the “London Jazz Festival” with beatboxer and musician, “Bellatrix”; and in the Royal Albert Hall alongside Canadian band and internet sensations, “Walk off the Earth”.
They are able to offer the pupils all these opportunities by benefitting from working alongside an actively engaged group of Strategic Partners; the Royal Albert Hall, and Royal College of Music, and a varied and diverse group of “Delivery Partners”, all of whom are signed up to the Hub’s inclusive music approach. Partnership working is at the core of what they do and they work hard to create exciting pathways, opportunities and progression routes that mean all children can benefit from learning music they want to learn.
Importantly, the TBMH is a Local Authority service which delivers everything as part of a shared-services agreement on behalf of the three councils. They are part of the Children’s Services School Standards team, meaning that they have direct access to work with school headteachers, governors, classroom teachers and are able to connect activity across multiple services that benefit the children. The TBMH works closely with a range of teams including Special Education Needs, Safeguarding, Early Years, and so on; all part of joining up the dots of provision, and ultimately helping children find routes into making music.
The TBMH is a music-specific service focused on high quality outcomes inclusive of all learners, but they also recognise the numerous benefits that music can bring to everyone from all backgrounds and in all circumstances. They are proud partners of the emerging Cultural Inclusion Manifesto with a specific focus on supporting access to music for all pupils and this chimes with the overarching themes of all their provision; Inclusive, Exceptional, Inspiring, Progressive, Sustainable.
Reflective practice is at the heart of the TBMH’s team, led by Stuart Whatmore, Head of the service. The approach of the team is to be honest about what they don’t know, learn together and move forward with ways that are realistic, accessible and practical. The support received by the three Local Authorities, the RAH and RCM, allows there to be a proactive network of creative and critical thinking that is forward-thinking. Collectively these partners and the TBMH have commissioned a brand new work from emerging composer, Charlotte Harding, called Convo which will be performed in the RAH on 7th March 2019. Convo charts the evolution of communication through music and will feature almost 1200 performers from 27 primary schools, 8 secondary schools, and 4 SEND schools;all performing alongside three TBMH choirs, their Folk Ensemble and Youth Orchestra. This is going to be an epic event featuring animations, live music coding on a big screen and takes the audience on a sensory journey including Morse Code, a silent film and much more (tickets via https://www.royalalberthall.com/).
Alongside all this, the Hub is also entering into a phase of development with the start of a new sister charitable arm to help raise funds and help provide financial support for their future ambitions. The charity is being established to address the challenges of drawing in additional funds and to help financially future-proof the service to supplement the core DfE funding. The new charity, named the Musical Boroughs’ Trust,is in the early stages of development, but it is hoped that funds raised will help support the TBMH to extend their work and at the same time be able to increase the organisation’s public profile. They are actively seeking people that may be interested to support their future ambitions to address needs, particularly those of disadvantaged young people who have so much to gain in their personal and social development from music education.
The TBMH has also just come to the end of a highly successful two-year project funded by Youth Music which focused on improving music provision from birth to 5 year olds in a range of Early Years’ settings. One of the outcomes of this was Musical Development Matters which is a brand-new free guidance document that has been written to help raise the profile of music in early childhood and to support those working with young children. Musical Development Matters forms part of the ongoing legacy of the project and is currently being promoted via a range of EY and music education networks across England.
The Music Hub is actively looking to raise its profile in the community. To help with this they now have a back-catalogue of all photos from events on their Flickr account; all films held on a Vimeo account; and use of Twitter@TBMHMusic. For more information about the music hub visit www.triboroughmusichub.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.