PUPILS at a Douglas primary school will experience the joy of making music together thanks to a scheme that’s new to the Isle of Man.
Nine and 10-year-olds at Anagh Coar Primary School will, from September, take part in the pilot for Soundstart – a scheme it’s hoped more pupils will benefit from eventually.
The 20 Year 5 pupils will use their classroom music time to learn an instrument together as a band, explained John Kinley, of the Department of Education and Children’s Music Service.
The scheme is similar to the Korg/Jupiter Soundstart initiative that was launched in the UK by the two instrument-makers in 2002 as part of Wider Opportunities, which envi
saged that every primary pupil should have the opportunity to learn an instrument.
Teaching classes of children to make music together had its foundations in Venezuela in South America and has also been adopted in Scotland, via its Big Noiseprogramme.
Soundstart has got off to a great start locally thanks to a grant from the Malcolm Scott Dickinson Charitable Trust, the legacy of a gifted musician from the Island who died six years ago, which is administered by local advocates, Appleby. This has enabled the Music Service to buy a set of 30 wind band instruments worth £7,100.
‘Class teachers will learn instruments such as the flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, trumpet, trombone and percussion alongside their pupils,’ said Mr Kinley. ‘Tuition will be provided by DEC Music Service staff, who are this week receiving training, sponsored by Korg/Jupiter, from Brian Keachie, Music Development Officer with the Inverclyde Music Service.
‘At the end of the year, pupils may opt to carry on learning an instrument with the DEC Music Service. The musical skills learned during the year are transferrable to any instrument should they decide to learn a different instrument in the future.
‘Hopefully after this pilot the concept of teaching large groups of pupils to learn an instrument in primary schools will be rolled out as time and finances allow,’ Mr Kinley went on.
‘The concept has already been trialled, using ukulele and penny whistle, in schools taking part in our ongoing Primary Schools’ Music Initiative and this will hopefully allow many more pupils to experience the many benefits and joys of learning a musical instrument.’
Rob Coole, Headteacher at Anagh Coar Primary School, said: ‘We feel very lucky to be able to take part in the pilot for this scheme. Our children really enjoy playing percussion instruments in their music lessons and are very excited about the prospect of learning to read music properly and playing a wind instrument, which they have rarely had the opportunity to use.
‘Over recent years individual music lessons have been limited for the younger pupils due to the large uptake of older pupils learning instruments. This scheme will now allow those pupils to do what they have always wanted to. We can't wait to get started and who knows, time permitting, maybe I'll eventually learn to play an instrument, too.’