Mark Robinson, founder of Rocksteady, explains: “Most traditional peripatetic Music teaching is rooted in the 1800s. This was when, to be able to play music, you had to first be able to read it so you could play your part in the orchestra. Most children these days would rather play in a band which is more about hearing music and being able to copy it. It’s quite a different skill-set, one that’s actually a lot more accessible to younger children.”
By stripping back the traditional barriers to learning an instrument, children are now playing songs within 10 minutes, even those who have never touched an instrument before.
Scott Monks, CEO, adds: “Our mission is to empower as many children as possible through music. We have ripped up the traditional rule book, which was more about maintaining the status quo and replaced it with a laser-sharp focus on the kids themselves. Everything we do is child-led and driven by increasing their confidence and enjoyment of school.”
So how do they do it?
1. Accessible, child led learning
Children lead their own learning, creating band names, deciding on the songs they want to learn and the parts they want to play. The programme has also been incredibly successful in reaching children with SEN and those who would never have considered themselves musical.
2. Inspirational role models
Staff are handpicked from a rigorous four-stage recruitment process which assesses their ability to both inspire the children and teach effectively. Staff are trained in Rocksteady’s unique ‘energy management’ techniques, which ensure every child has a positive experience.
3. Making it easy for schools
Rocksteady handle all timetabling, sign-up and processing issues, lightening the load on overstretched admin departments and ensuring things run smoothly.
The results speak for themselves: Over 14,000 children currently learn music in their own bands every week across more than 500 Primary schools, and over 200,000 children have had a free live music experience with Rocksteady in the last year. It’s also worth noting that more than 50% of students are male, bucking a gender trend in traditional peripatetic music teaching at this age. Most importantly, the approach is making a real difference:
“I completely believe that Rocksteady has been as much of a boost and help to Lewis as his regular appointments with an occupational therapist and a dyslexia tutor, in a different, but complementary way.” - Gemma, proud parent
“Seeing the bands excel at something they clearly enjoy so much warms my heart. I have been amazed at how much it has helped them grow!” - Mei Lim, head, Weyfield Primary
Music education is still alive and well. Perhaps it just requires a more disruptive approach to thrive in modern times.
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