4,500 children in Years 2 and 3 (aged 6-8) across 13 schools in Bristol will have the opportunity to learn a new musical instrument and participate in school music lessons, thanks to Bristol Beacon and its unique Earthsong Programme.

This week, 400 glockenspiels will be delivered to schools and homes as part of the music teaching programme. The Earthsong Programme is a joint initiative between Bristol Beacon and the Earthsong Foundation, made possible thanks to an extraordinary philanthropic donation by the Foundation.

Following a pilot programme in 2019 at Minerva Primary Academy school, it was rolled out last year to 13 schools across the city, to provide whole class singing and instrumental lessons. With lockdown restrictions and home schooling, the music education staff worked hard to adjust the lessons so that they can be done either as 30-minute live lessons online or recorded content that can be split into daily five-minute sessions. The programme employs six tutors to deliver the lessons.

“To be able to deliver hundreds of instruments to children across Bristol is just fantastic,” said Laurie Stewart, vocal and instrumental strategy manager, Bristol Beacon. “We are so excited for them to get their hands on the glockenspiels and have a go. It’s such a fun instrument and a great one for younger children who have never played a musical instrument before. Our aim is for them to enjoy themselves, experiment and gain confidence – and hopefully it’s the start of developing a lifelong love and understanding of music.”

Suze Pole, co-founder of Earthsong Foundation, added, “Our vision is that all children have the chance to experience the joyful, creative and connecting power of making music and we are really excited about the impact our partnership with Bristol Beacon is already having in local primary schools. 

“We need music and the arts more than ever right now as they will play a vital role in helping children and school communities explore, express and recover from the challenges of the pandemic. It is wonderful news that so many children in Bristol will now have glockenspiels and I can’t wait to hear the results of their lessons, hopefully with a real-life performance later in the year!”

Sitting alongside the five-year programme is a longitudinal research study, measuring the impact on attainment in the core STEM subjects. The Earthsong Programme is the only one of its kind in the UK, but the team’s aspiration is that its results will change the national understanding of the impact of music education.