The first steps in any plan are the most important steps, which is why so much of the emphasis has so far been placed on ensuring that the First Experiences plan is well rooted.
The aim of First Experiences is to ensure that as many children as possible are offered the opportunity to have a go at learning a musical instrument, or live a musical experience, enriching the musical and emotional development of primary school children.
All Welsh music services now provide their ‘First Experiences’ scheme, providing 6 weeks or more of instrumental training to classes at no cost to the school. We are excited to see so much variety in the offer across Wales, with this scheme giving class teachers the opportunity to shine alongside our tutors. ALL primary schools in Wales will receive this offer over the next three years. If you haven’t been offered a session yet, it will come to you shortly. To find out more about that timetable contact your local Music Service. Their details can be found on our website www.musicservice.wales.
The response from the schools that have already received this scheme is extremely positive, with some children picking up an instrument for the first time ever. When working with a musician in the classroom for an extended period it is an opportunity to increase the confidence of a classroom teacher. Amanda Williams, Deputy Head of Ysgol Twm o’r Nant, Denbigh said:
It’s very nice to have a musician into the School… someone different. The children’s confidence has risen. The quiet little children have been able to play with everyone else and give it a go. Before, if there weren’t enough instruments, they wouldn’t go over to the box and choose an instrument. But there is an instrument for everyone, and that is of great benefit.
As a result of the First Experiences lessons, some children have been encouraged to continue with music education by undertaking individual lessons, and others have already joined local ensembles for the first time.
Lucas, Betsan, Scarlett, Hazel, Billy, Leo and Olivia from Ysgol Castellau, Beddau, had their first glockenspiel lesson in January 2023 as part of the First Experiences offer. Such has been the group’s enthusiasm since that first lesson that each has joined the Junior Wind Band of their county, Rhondda Cynon Taf, to practice their skills further.
Celebrating First Experiences
From January to July several First Experiences concerts have been held across Wales – from Cardiff to Neath; from Gwynedd to Wrexham. As part of these concerts, children performed on stage, some for the first time ever. This was the highlight for the schools that have already received the First Experiences offer, and we have seen infectious enthusiasm on every single stage as they have performed together. In several of these concerts we saw children playing a pBuzz instrument, which has been shared with all the music services.
Over the past few months, you have been sending us your photos of all the activity related to the
First Experiences offer. It has been wonderful to share in the national excitement as children benefit from the variety of musical lessons. Remember to contribute and share your musical experiences with us: