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‘Future Music Makers’ – Bringing Rap and Beatboxing into Schools

14th March 2024

FUTURE MUSIC MAKERS was a ‘Test and Learn’ project for BACE (Bedford Arts and Cultural Education) taking place during Spring 2023. The project, developed and delivered in partnership with Bedford Music Hub and produced by Glow Training, explored how beatboxing and rap can be used to deliver the new National Plan for Music Education.

In the second in a series of three blogs exploring the development of ‘Future Music Makers’, Glow’s Sarah Golding talks to Luke Skeel, Emily Green and Jack Serino, Castle Newnham’s award-winning Performing Arts Team who have led on the project from the school’s point of view.


Do you think that your young people (180 children across years 5, 6 and year 10) were happy and engaged within the two-week Beatboxing residency project at Castle Newnham?

Five children stood holding microphones rapping in front of other children sat watching. A man is also stood at the front leading the session.

Photo credits: Helen White

Emily: Absolutely, there was 100% engagement and investment from all the kids. There wasn’t one pupil that said ‘nah, this is not my thing’ – they all had a really good go at it, even the ones that were often too nervous to perform – for the whole of the two weeks they were completely engaged in what they were doing.

Luke: There was a real buzz around the school.

Emily: Oh yeah, they’re still doing it now – I was teaching the year 6 yesterday and they were cracking out their beatboxing!


And do you think that part of this success was that this type of music has a relevance to the young people’s own tastes?

Emily: Yes I think so. The kids were asked what their favourite music was as part of the project, and lots of them mentioned hip hop and R&B, and its something that we don’t really explore within our curriculum. We’ve got to – to an extent – teach to what we know. I certainly for one don’t have the confidence to teach what Conrad and Paul came in and did, and it was great for the children to have that different element to their music education.


Have you considered using rap or beatbox in your school before?

Emily: It definitely crossed my mind as something that would be good – we could do it – but my confidence in it is what has ruled it out for me.


Do you think there are barriers, real or perceived, about using rap and beatboxing in schools?

Emily: Yeah, I do think so. Most of the music teachers that I know and that I talk to, have gone through quite a classical progression in their career. They take GCSE and A Level, where you have all this classical music as your repertoire. I looked at popular music for a while, but nothing crept into being as progressive and as contemporary as R&B or hip hop or beatboxing. So venturing into something like that is quite a huge step to take.


Do you think these barriers also come from the school, from parents, from children?

Emily: I don’t think the children have those barriers really. I think our parents are quite open, but I don’t think it’s a type of music that they immediately think of. There’s no resistance from our school, we’ve got great support from our school.

Doing projects like this helps perception internally. A few years ago, perhaps music was seen by some as just being about playing the violin etc. But by doing these types of projects, this has helped contribute to the understanding that music is more open, and by doing this type of progressive project more, children feel inspired and engaged.


How do you think we can support teachers to feel more confident to teach using Beatboxing and Rap?

Emily: For me personally, this project has been a huge barrier breaker – having someone who absolutely knows their stuff and who can put it into context for you in your classroom, and show you how it would work in a classroom setting to get the right messages across for that genre. Because you might feel you don’t do it justice – I’d be worried that I was missing something about the culture that came with it.


The project has explored ways in which beatboxing and rap can support the new National Plan for Music Education, how has your experience of the project impacted your plans around your delivery of that?

Luke: You could run the risk of the National Plan being a tick box exercise, but to be involved in something like this, its enriched what we do further. We’re pushing the checklist given and this project has shown that we can do something like this more than the once a year that’s encouraged by the plan.

Emily: It suits the need to provide wider musical experiences.

But it would also suit those who can’t get hold of instruments to use – in terms of the unique position of beatboxing being something you can do just using your mouth. You don’t need anything expensive to give them a valuable, quality experience of music making.


Do you feel that you’ve been introduced to a new cohort of Bedford artists through the project?

Emily: Yes absolutely, those guys were great. Seeing how invested they’d become over the two weeks was really fab. I watched them teach one session with year 6 and it was a really positive session, considering it was the first session they’d ever taught – what they got from the kids was really amazing.


One aspect of this project’s exploration was to explore pathways for transition, do you feel that when the project connected year 6 and year 10s, that it went someway to creating group cohesion and friendships across different age groups?

Emily: Yes, I was in all the sessions that the year 10 took part in, and a really good percentage of the year 6s said that their favourite part of the session was the year 10s playing their instruments. The year 6s were going up to the year 10 players and were asking them all these questions: ‘what does this do on your instrument?’ Also asking them questions about GCSEs. I think it really did bring them together.


Is there anything that we could improve on if we were to run this project again?

Luke: My one wish from it was more of our year groups could get involved.


What are your top takeaways from the project?

Jack: I liked the fact that there was no ability needed from the kids.

They were all on an even playing field, so it was really great to see them all develop equally and there was no barrier to entry.

Emily: Other than seeing how much all of the children enjoyed it, personally as a music teacher, I’m now 100% more confident to deliver something along the lines of beatboxing and rap and incorporating it in my work. Year 6 are doing a brass scheme now, but I thought, why not try something and incorporate them looping their beatboxing on the loop station and play along to it with their brass?

Luke: We got parents to watch the year 5 perform at the end. My biggest thing is getting parents and families onto school sites and seeing their children in action, so that’s a big win. But also, I’ve seen the music hub previously try to diversify the nature of its provision, and there has been some challenge to that, because it’s breaking down the barriers of traditional music. It’s great to know that this is a project that’s going to have a future and make the music scene in Bedford more diverse.


Luke Skeel is Assistant Principal, Community and Communications at Castle Newnham School in Bedford

Emily Green is Federation Head of Performing Arts at Castle Newnham School in Bedford

Jack Serino is Music Teacher at Castle Newnham School in Bedford

Sarah Golding is Associate Producer with Glow Training, a learning and development consultancy supporting UK wide organisations to co-create arts, culture and heritage activity in partnership with their communities. Contact for more information about this project and how Glow can support beatboxing and rap in your schools.

‘Future Music Makers’ was commissioned by Bedford Arts and Cultural Education (BACE) with funding from Royal Opera House Bridge, produced by Glow Training in partnership with Bedford Music Hub.