RBC’s new ‘School of Music’ leaves primary pupils ‘buzzing with excitement’

RBC teacher taking part in a music lesson in a circle of children

A ground-breaking programme that aims to teach primary school pupils how to read and write music within six months has been launched by Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (RBC).

Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

Birmingham City University

Around 350 children and their families at St Benedict’s Primary School in Small Heath are set to benefit from the initiative, which aims to put music at the heart of the local community.

“This partnership is going to significantly impact the lives of our children,” said St Benedict’s headteacher Mrs Emma Nott. “Our pupils, parents and staff are buzzing with excitement.

“This collaboration will show them that music can be an education and career pathway.”

RBC launched the two-year project to make music lessons more accessible in schools and to allow children to express themselves creatively, regardless of background.

According to data from Birmingham City Council, in 2021/22 there were 4,782 children living in low income households in Small Heath.

That number represents 60% of all children in the ward.

In addition, 98% of children at St Benedict’s have English as an additional language - with pupils originating from 29 different countries.

Richard Shrewsbury, Head of Learning and Participation at RBC, believes the programme can help drive inclusion and equality across the region.

“Music can transcend all cultural, social and economic barriers,” he said. “We hope this programme will build an example model of how music education can be delivered successfully at other primary schools across the UK.”

Thanks to an anonymous donation, St Benedict’s has already created its first music room and recently acquired a substantial number of instruments via the charity Restore the Music.

The new music room will host tuition, workshops, training and community initiatives.

“We’re grateful to our donor who has agreed to support this project for at least two years,” added Mr Shrewsbury.

“The staff at St Benedict’s understand how music can become an important part of their pupils’ lives and we already feel a part of the school family.”

RBC and St Benedict’s began working together earlier this year. Last month (9th May 2024), the school was visited by RBC staff and celebrated Indian violinist Ustad Johar Ali, who is residing at RBC as part of his role as Chair of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations.

“Visits from Ustad Johar Ali and RBC have given us a taste for what high-quality, professional musicianship can unlock,” added Mrs Nott.

“We’ve already seen a dramatic upturn in interest in our music clubs and other opportunities since working with RBC. It’s such a privilege to be working together and we can’t wait to see where these next two years will take us.”

The partnership between St Benedict’s and RBC was celebrated on Tuesday 25 June, where Year 6 pupils performed at RBC’s Voice of our Community concert.

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