Changing Tracks: Developing Musical Inclusion Through Music Service Partnerships

Sharing our experience of developing Musical inclusion through Music Service partnerships.

Enablers of Inclusive Practice

Inclusion practice has always been a continuum, ranging from specialist inclusion providers commissioned to deliver initial engagement work, to instrumental tutors focusing mainly on musical outcomes, but still producing personal and social outcomes.

Changing Tracks starts with our findings that increasing inclusion capacity for instrumental music tutors can offer ongoing, preventative inclusion practice right at the heart of schools, rather than as a short term and sometimes remedial extra when funding is available.

One challenge is that many instrumental tutors are more used to benchmarking progress largely through musical outcomes, rather than personal and social outcomes. Many also are more used to working with middle class pupils whose parents can afford lessons.

We addressed these challenges in a number of ways including diversifying the workforce, expanding our approach to dialogue and pedagogy, developing new progression routes and creating additional opportunities for CPD.


To broaden recruitment we developed a model called Routes into Teaching. This uses musical activities and discussion to raise awareness of how opportunities to teach for music services are broadening, and to help potential tutors make the most of their applications.

Diversifying DIALOGUE and PEDAGOGY

Bringing different types of tutors, such as community music tutors and instrumental tutors, together opened up broader conversations around teaching.

At one of our events, community music tutors demonstrated practical ways to manage groups, to embed consultation and youth voice in music activities, and to focus on process, personal and social as well as musical outcomes.  This was valued particularly by First Access tutors, as it helped them manage risk of exclusion pupils who can present challenges. Community music pedagogy also helped tutors diversify their approaches to teaching orchestral instruments.

‘This is gold dust!’
EMS First Access tutor

But there was a 2-way benefit to this. As community musicians often work in time bound projects, it was helpful to hear from instrumental tutors about how they plan long-term and work towards performances and other goals, and how these also can have considerable personal and social outcomes for pupils.

Many instrumental tutors responded positively to developing more child led, and creative approaches to their teaching such as writing songs and lyrics with pupils.

Although many young people reacted very positively to this way of teaching, we heard from some tutors working with young people on the autistic spectrum that they preferred working page by page through their tutor book.

This serves to demonstrate that inclusion is about developing approaches that respond to the different interests and needs of young people, rather than one magic bullet approach.


More diverse approaches also need the support of more diverse progression routes – options other than exam grade examinations, bands and orchestras.

Our Songwriter project, in particular, offered young person led alternative progression routes based around producing high quality creative content. In Hertfordshire we run regular workshops in every school holiday, and weekly songwriting communities in music centres.

Songwriter also progressed young people to performances at festivals, on into HE, and in Hertfordshire was delivered by workshop leaders who had been participants themselves.

Music leadership is itself a progression route and we found that developing opportunities for young people to lead sessions helped manage behaviour as well as offering suggestions for careers. Young music leader training is forming part of our development of the Stevenage Youth Music Council, with a view to developing more local music leaders.

Developing Quality through CPD

Creating space for Critical Reflection was key in supporting tutors and managers to take responsibility for developing their work. Much CPD focuses on repertoire but reflecting about how we can improve our teaching can be more effective, and sharing practice can raise enthusiasm in an often isolated profession.

‘Do, Review, Improve!’
Youth Music Quality Framework

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