The Connect Resound project is a partnership between the North Yorkshire Music Action Zone, University of Hull, and UCan Play and supported by a £112,000 grant from the Digital R&D programme selected by Nesta and funded by Arts Council England and the Arts & Humanities Research Council.

The partnership used the award to pilot peripatetic music lessons in rural areas in which access to music lessons was problematic. The report makes the case for using Internet technology to deliver aspects of music education in schools. The idea was that the teacher was based in a single location and was broadcast into different schools across the region. Following a trial in primary schools across North Yorkshire, the Connect: Resound pilot project has identified a high-quality, online method of delivering instrumental tuition to children living in rurally isolated areas, whilst also enabling significant cost savings for the local Music Education Hubs:

“Put simply, 79.5% of parents and carers of those children involved in the pilot would not have tried to find instrumental lessons for their children had this opportunity not been available.”

Set up to respond directly to a recommendation made in Darren Henley’s 2011 Review of Music Education in England that future research should ‘…examine how technology could enable better teaching of music (particularly in rural areas)’, the Connect: Resound project demonstrates how Music Education Hubs could overcome the high transport costs and logistical challenges of reaching children in isolated regions.

The trial took place in North Yorkshire where, due to the rural nature of the county, peripatetic teachers spend much time travelling between schools. The report highlights that if travel were removed, the cost saving would be the equivalent to an additional 4.2 full time members of staff.

During the pilot, the North Yorkshire County Council Music Service’s team of peripatetic teachers explored ways of teaching online from a base set up with the appropriate technology, thus removing travel time from the equation. The project concluded that if Music Education Hubs across the country were set up with specialist facilities, they would have the potential to reach a greater number of pupils and widen access to music education for all, as envisaged in the National Plan for Music Education.

The pilot explored low cost methods of providing remote instrumental tuition based around the Roland VR-3EX video and audio mixer and streamer, along with three cameras (to allow pupils and teachers to see different views, including close-ups) microphones, and Skype. The equipment provided a balance between quality of sound and image, and value for money.

The online lessons were hugely popular with 70.1% of pupils saying they enjoyed them ‘very much’ and 74.1% wishing to continue to learn their instruments ‘very much’ or ‘quite a lot’.  It was noted that 79.5% of parents/carers would not have tried to find instrumental lessons for their children had this opportunity not been available.

‘The lessons are really enjoyable and make me want to learn my flute every minute of every day and I’m so glad I got the opportunity.’ Pupil

‘This opportunity has built confidence, self-satisfaction, happiness and family bonding. Very proud of what ‘music’ has created personally for our child.’ Parent

Since the project a larger scale roll out of the approach is being trialled in four music hubs (Cornwall; Cumbria; Durham/Darlington; and East Riding) during 2016 and supported by a £60,000 award from Arts Council England and contributions from the music hubs. Further information about the project and a link to the full report can be found below:

www.nymaz.org.uk/connectresound

http://artsdigitalrnd.org.uk/projects/nymaz/

 

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