Musical Beginnings

Musical Beginnings is our flagship early years music project, improving access and developing sustained music-making opportunities for the 0-5s in Greenwich.

“It’s helped me to incorporate music into everyday life”
- Parent

The project launched in 2018 in partnership with Quaggy Development Trust. Working together with staff in their children’s centres and nursery, Musical Beginnings enriches day-to-day music making for babies and toddlers through:

1) Working with parents/carers: to observe their child’s musical development, and explore fun and easy ways they can support it.

2) Working with children’s centre and nursery staff: to develop their own musicianship, and their skills to support babies’ and toddler’s music-making.

“Now I realise the value of my singing voice for my baby”
- Parent

Since the project began, we’ve delivered: 

• Weekly free music sessions for 70 parents/carers with 0-1s at children’s centres in Greenwich, supporting day-to-day music making at home.

• The creation and distribution of a unique songbook, in response to the pandemic limiting face to face activity - with a shaker and accompanying online videos, giving parents songs and activities to use in everyday routines and moments.

• Specialist music support and mentoring for nursery staff – responding to and growing children’s musical play through songs, games, and creation of a Music Hut for child-led musical exploration.

• A ukulele training programme for children’s centre and nursery staff - including instruments, lessons in ukulele and in broader musical skills, and coaching to use the ukulele in daily work.

Workforce development of both Greenwich Music School and Quaggy Development Trust (QDT) staff, focussed on a legacy of ongoing impact: with skill-sharing, structured reflection, and training from early years music experts.

A QDT staff member proudly shows the ukulele pick which now lives with her staff ID badge.

A QDT staff member proudly shows the ukulele pick which now lives with her staff ID badge.

“I will continue to play the ukulele and use this not only within our nursery setting, but at our Stay and Play and any other sessions.”
- QDT staff 2021

The project reaches many families facing barriers to participation. By working with Quaggy Development Trust we have been able to focus on particular groups and run the free classes in specific children's centres in low-income neighbourhoods. 

Careful ‘listening’ is built into the project, to make sure our work is always useful and relevant - whether for children, parents, children’s centre staff or our teachers.

The Musical Beginnings pack includes a shaker and unique songbook with accompanying online videos, full of songs and activities to use in everyday routines and moments.

“I’ve learned that you can improvise words to song to describe you are doing – it’s really great for bonding as well as language”

The first phase of Musical Beginnings was supported by Sound Connections and ran in 2018, with five-week parent/child courses at two QDT children’s centres. The project phase was shortlisted for the award for Early Years Achievement at the National Creative Learning Awards 2018/19, with the judges citing “great potential to impact many families in the coming years.” The case study was published by Sound Connections.

“I learnt the importance of using songs to support all aspects of daily routine, actions and behaviour”
- QDT staff

The current phase runs from Autumn 2020 to Spring 2022 and expands from the first phase.  The project is supported by Youth Music and was selected as a Finalist for the award for Excellence in Primary / Early Years at the Music & Drama Education Awards 2022, with category sponsor Classic FM.