The Blackbird Approach to Music Learning

The Blackbird approach is to develop all round musicians, who feel motivated to practise and enjoy their music making. We enjoy a real community of practice, where children learn together, and teachers meet regularly to share experiences, and undergo mentoring and training. At the moment, we offer the following routes into learning an instrument. This progression been carefully developed, with the aim of giving children the most effective, positive and fun ways to learn:

a) Music Foundation Classes (ages 3.5-7)  - these provide a foundation for children wanting to learn an instrument, with different musical activities each week, in small groups of 3-6 children. The children start to learn to read rhythm and understand musical concepts, which helps the transition to learning an instrument. A full list of these classes is available at . The classes cost £6.50/half hour class

b) Beginner instrumental tuition in groups of 2 (Age 5 upwards) - These lessons combine musicianship activities with more focused instrumental tuition. Having two children in a group means the lessons are a little less intense than one to one, and concentration can be kept throughout, with the mix of activities! These lessons cost £10/half hour (availability below)

c) One to one tuition (Age 5 or 6 upwards) - These lessons focus primarily on instrumental tuition, but include musicianship activities. These lessons cost £16.50/half hour.

All our teachers are trained instrumentalists, with teaching experience, and experience of working with young children. All the teachers hold a current DBS check and Public liability insurance.

Music Foundation Classes

These classes provide a musical foundation curriculum for children from 3.5-7 years old, and are designed to fill the gap between baby and toddler music classes, and more formal instrumental learning. Small group sizes (4-6 children per class) allow for a high level of individual attention, whilst encouraging musical interaction, fun, and the development of important listening skills. The classes have been designed to correspond to the primary areas of learning in the Early Years Foundation Stage. Core activities include: movement to music; clapping and playing rhythmic patterns; listening and responding to music from a variety of cultures and traditions; singing; conducting; improvising and creating our own pieces of music.

Children learn rhythmic patterns through fun characters, especially designed by illustrator
Belinda Evans. They will learn original songs, composed by Helen Reid, Dominic Sewell and Laura Trundle. They learn to read rhythmic notation, and sing using the Sol-fa system. After a year, the children will learn to read and write rhythmic notation, providing an excellent base to progress to learning an instrument.

There are 3 stages:

Preschool (Ages 3.5-5) - movement to music; learn new songs; pulse, dynamics, articulation; listen to, and clap back rhythms; recognise some basic notation; learn about different instruments; and improvise and create music together.

Stage 1  (Ages 4-6) - Read simple rhythms; singing simple melodies in Sol-fa; build on work on pulse, dynamics and articulation; improvise and create music; and learn about different instruments.

Stage 2 (Ages 5-7) - Understand, read and write rhythmic notation; recognise and pick out rhythms; sing simple melodies at sight; clap rhythms at sight. Understand a range of musical terms and concepts.