Soundhub, the music education hub for Kent, is unveiling MusicPlus Digital, a simple, cost-effective online music education programme which could revolutionise whole class music teaching in primary schools and massively increase the potential for children from all backgrounds to learn a musical instrument.
MusicPlus Digital enables non-specialist classroom teachers to work with professional instrumental teachers to lead whole class lessons in playing the ukulele, using specially-commissioned catchy and engaging songs for children to play and sing, together with fun and exciting characters for children to learn with.
The initiative has been extensively trialled over two years, with the initial pilot programme now rolled out to 25 primary schools across Kent. Soundhub now hopes to sell MusicPlus Digital across the UK’s 122 music hubs as well as to independent schools in the UK and music education providers overseas.
MusicPlus Digital is a 30-week programme aimed at children aged 7 to 11. It consists of 15 digital lessons, each up to 40 minutes long, interspersed with 15 “live” lessons delivered by a professional ukulele teacher. The developers are already working on another six more advanced lessons, which schools can choose to add at the end of the 30 weeks.
The programme is website-based and access can be purchased for £300 per school. There will be discounts available for bulk sales from music hubs, clusters of schools or groups of academies. The site also has a selection of free resources available to all, including chord charts, notation, tabs, backing tracks and repertoire for the ukulele.
Musician Jake Painter, who presents the online lessons, said: “There is nothing else quite like it. The ukulele is becoming the most popular instrument in primary schools and MusicPlus Digital also helps schools to cover Key Stage 2 National Curriculum, using sound educational principles, such as use of notation, pitch, composition and rhythm.”
Jake, a London-based session musician, who has recorded with Paloma Faith, Culture Club and Vampire Weekend, said: “After a year, students should be able to play some chords and have a good grasp of singing, notation, melody and composition.”
Peter Bolton, chief executive of Soundhub, said: “Our two-year trial has shown that MusicPlus Digital can be of enormous benefit to teachers, whether or not they have specialist music training. While the children watch and listen to Jake, the teacher can pass among them, helping individuals with hand-positioning and fingering, ensuring that all students receive the personal attention they need to keep up.
“The ukulele is an inexpensive instrument, with basic models available for as little as £12. We believe that every child should have the chance to learn a musical instrument and MusicPlus Digital gives schools a cost-effective option for making high quality, whole-class music education more inclusive.”