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Music Mark Partnership Innovation Fund Projects

Added to website 16/09/2021. Updated 31/05/2023.

A summary of the Partnership Innovation Fund projects we’ve supported as part of the Underpinning Hubs for the Future programme. This fund was launched in 2021 to help Music Education Hubs to stabilise and grow following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Partnership Innovation Fund forms part of the Music Mark Underpinning Hubs for the Future programme launched in 2021 to help Music Education Hubs to stabilise and grow following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The fund is supported financially by the Arts Council, England and Department for Education and provides MEHs with the opportunity to apply for funding towards innovative projects in which they work together to contribute to stabilisation and recovery in the wake of Covid-19. Ideas may relate directly to current challenges or circumstances but we are also interested in seeing projects that may have impact in the longer term, or which lead to lasting changes in MEHs offer or operations.

As part of this programme, we look to share and celebrate the funded work so please do take a look at the phase one and two projects below. If you are interested to know more about any of these projects, please contact the relevant project leader.


GCSE Creative Skills Project

Partners: Berkshire Maestros, The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, The Hexagon, Reading 

This project idea initially started in 2019 with the RPO and Berkshire Maestros (BM) discussing a GCSE Composition project proposal to develop skills in composition for GCSE music students in the county. Including cross genre work, the project would excite GCSE students from all musical backgrounds about the fundamentals of composition, as well as bring GCSE students into primary schools to deliver initial introductory workshops regarding composition.  

With the COVID-19 pandemic hitting in 2020, this project was shelved before funds were raised.  

In 2021, the RPO and BM revisited the project, tweaking the objectives to address the declining numbers of young people continuing music at GCSE, exasperated by lack of opportunities during the pandemic. 

Project Aims 

  • Increase interest and enthusiasm around GSCE music as a viable subject 
  • Highlight the transferable skills that music and being part of an ensemble offer to other career and academic paths 
  • Discover the wide variety of career paths that studying music can lead to 
  • Create and perform exciting new pieces of music 
  • Develop relationships between young people, BM and professional musicians 

Project Structure

The project will begin with a series of recorded video resources being sent to all the secondary schools for Year 9 pupils choosing their GCSE options. These short videos would feature RPO musicians speaking not about musical techniques or skills, but instead sharing their perspectives on the transferrable skills they have developed from being a musician and working in an ensemble (e.g. working as part of a team, leadership, time-keeping, working to deadlines) and how these benefit them in other areas or opportunities.  

Year 9 students would then be invited to take part in a half-day creative composition project with RPO musicians, with up to 100 students taking part across two days (Monday 4th April or Wednesday 27th April). Students would work with professionals to write 4 creative compositions to be performed at an RPO concert at The Hexagon on Friday 6th May 2022. 

Project Outcomes

  • All schools feel supported in promoting GCSE music as a subject choice 
  • Students able to identify broader career benefits of studying music 
  • Increase in uptake of GCSE music in partner schools 
  • Increase in learner confidence in composition at GCSE level 

For further information about this project please contact:
Hilary Smethurst-Evans 

Mark Bassett 

Embedding wellbeing in organisations – a training programme and toolkit for teams and managers

Partners: North Somerset Music, South Gloucestershire Music, B&NES Music Hub

The West of England Music Alliance is working with Darren Abrahams (The Human Hive CIC) to support managers and teams to embed a culture or wellbeing and support within organisations. 

Rooted in the 4 principles of Safety, Belonging, Purpose and Identity, we are will establish an understanding of wellbeing throughout the Service, how it impacts different layers of the organisation and how we better manage and work together to embed wellbeing and positive mental health.  

We will develop a better understanding of and ability to: 

  • Recognise overwhelm and trauma when we encounter it – both in ourselves and in the population we serve 
  • Regulate overwhelm and trauma on personal, team and service levels 
  • Prevent burn out by spotting early signs of overwhelm and providing the right support before it happens 

As a result of this programme, we will have: 

  • An understanding of Wellbeing throughout the service 
  • Trained team members who will become “Wellbeing Practitioners” for the service 
  • A toolkit produced by The Human Hive that can be shared with other services

For further information about this project please contact:
Simon Lock

Reaching into Teaching

Partners: Milton Keynes Music Education Hub, Music for Bedford Borough.

To enable final year higher education music students from London and/or Birmingham to visit the 2 Hubs to observe and participate in a series of music making sessions. The grant would be used to contribute towards travel expenses.

The sessions observed could be WCET, Instrumental lessons, Rock School, Inclusion projects, Music Centre.

There is a need to develop a workforce for the future. This project would enable us to broaden knowledge in the higher education music sector about work which is available in Hubs as Hubs we could learn about what students are looking for re their employment opportunities, the students would have a more complete knowledge of what working within a Hub involves.

Both Hubs have an inclusion policy as part of their business plan where one of the aims is to develop new, more inclusive programmes for young people. Developing the workforce is a fundamental part of putting this into practice.

As part of the project we would also offer some Yr 10/11 students an opportunity to talk to the higher ed students about their courses and aspirations.

We would run the project during the Summer term ending by 31/07/22 and reporting by 14/09/22.

For further information about this project please contact:
Sue Wakely, Milton Keynes Music Education Hub

Different for Different: Considered approaches to music teaching in SEND schools and settings, and beyond.

Partners: Harringey Music Education Hub, Camden Music Education Hub

This joint project between Haringey and Camden Music Hubs will run training sessions led by specialist SEN/D practitioners from our special schools, with opportunities for extension through observation, team teaching and feedback. Instrumental tutors would be invited to consider the ways in which music-making can exclude people, and would be offered practical steps to make practice more inclusive – building up channels of communication, understanding of the needs of individual students – our approach will be ‘different for different’. Subsequent sessions would look at specific approaches when working with young musicians who are Deaf and hard of hearing, students with PMLD, those who have additional social and emotional needs and those on the autistic spectrum. Tutors will be offered opportunities to observe SEN/D music staff in action, and to teach alongside to gain further practical experience. Both those delivering the training, and tutors attending the training will be paid for their time.

Subsequent to this training we plan to set up an online group for tutors where they can share best practice and case studies of their learning.

We believe that the benefits of this approach will inform their teaching of all children, all of whom are unique and need special consideration.

The project will take place between January 2022 and July 2022, and will result in 8 tutors across the two boroughs trained to work more successfully and competently with SEN/D pupils, equipped with an understanding and awareness of ways to engage with young musicians with a range of additional needs. Our tutors will develop their understanding of what SEN/D schools and settings offer, and how musical teaching and learning can be part of the curriculum offer.

Termly meetings of support and a research group will open an ongoing dialogue between SEN/D practitioners / SENCOs and our instrumental and vocal tutors to allow for further engagement and understanding.

Both HMS & CMS will have staff with developed skills and understanding of SEN/D settings and will be able to advocate for such work.

For further information about this project please contact:
Deborah Rees, Camden Music Service

Online Tuition Supporting Videos

Partners: Music Partnership North (Northumberland), Music Partnership North (Newcastle)

We plan to create a series of resources that will be accessible to students who are currently waiting for lessons and can also support beginner students who are receiving in-person tuition. This will include basic guidance on each instrument and the first steps to learning to play an instrument or sing. The guided resources will also link the importance of singing to development of instrumental skills – encouraging children sing the melody or rhythm to be played, before moving it to the instrument.

For further information about this project please contact:
David Francis
07818 011722

Music Makers of the Future

Partners: Severn Arts, Dudley, Entrust, Coventry

West Midlands Music wish to increase engagement with young people (split into two groups 11-18 and 18-24) and work with them to identify best practice in youth engagement; to provide youth leadership and input to on programming and provision; to test a range of prototype music projects and roll those that are successful out across the region, and to fully embed youth voice in the work of the West Midlands Music Hubs.

This is our first collective approach to developing youth-led work that will inform all 14 Hubs with regard to strategic planning and diversifying the current offer. Firstly, we will allow young people to take a lead in programme development, come up with ideas and test them to grow and inform our offer; provide relevant and inspirational music opportunities and expand our options. Secondly, we aim to evaluate the impact music-making has on young people’s lives, future and health through youth-consultation using non-traditional venues, spaces and methods to create a “musical/visual” practical toolkit that can be shared across all our 14 Hubs. Our third strand will be to create a working group that considers career paths for musicians and starts to bring together a body of evidence to start to work with careers providers, educators, trainers and conservatoires to create case studies to inspire future musicians to become a part of our workforce.

We will target non-music participants from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds to become more representative as a cohort and transfer ownership to young people to come up with a blueprint for “music education of the future” that can form a marketing pack for schools. We will also research and learn from best practice in non-music organisations to share ideas and replicate what has been successfully implemented to incorporate youth voice and we will commission 5 projects to be developed by a young person/people in collaboration with a music artist and tested with our target audience.

The project will run from 1st December 2021 – 30th June 2022 (full report end July).

For further information about this project please contact:
Laura Worsfold, Severn Arts

Mersey Brass Tutor Network and Mersey Hub Brass Ensemble

Partners: Accent, Resonate and Sky

Accent, Resonate and Sky will work together to develop a Mersey Hub Brass ensemble, and Mersey Brass Tutor Network as we re-emerge from lockdown. Through a focused approach (with Accent MEH as a new partner) we will:

  • develop ensemble membership for approximately 60 intermediate and advanced performers.
  • Facilitate termly networking opportunities where Tutors will triangulate support, leading to the promotion of Brass, the strengthening of the ensemble and related activities across three local authorities.
  • focus activity to strengthen opportunities for students who are grade 4/5+
  • create a new networked team of 6 tutors who will develop Brass initiatives for CYP beyond the first year of learning, across discreet Hub settings. The Brass Tutor Network, will work together to make strategic Hub plans and share resources and expertise for the benefit of CYP. They will bring students from Halton, Liverpool and Sefton together at the end of every term for a full day of workshops and rehearsals.
  • Each rehearsal will involve 2 Brass tutors from each Hub, and take place in one of the participating regions,
  • Repertoire will be focused on a new suite of differentiated pieces for Brass ensemble. The summer term rehearsal will take the format of morning workshops, followed by an afternoon concert, and WCVIT Brass schools and parents will be encouraged to attend.
  • The ensemble will perform at Resonate’s iPlay Concert at the Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool. This will inspire WCVIT children to continue playing beyond the first year of learning.
  • We will measure success on the rate of ensemble attendance and progress plus the willingness of students to attend Mersey Hub Brass rehearsals beyond the life of the project.
  • Tutors will steer the progress of the ensemble, through six meetings per annum, which will provide an opportunity to monitor and evaluate outcomes, including resources and attainment. The network will provide a gateway to another regional authority and a valuable insight into the work of others. It will provide a ‘next step’ for those wanting to develop professional skills on a large-scale, and will assist them to discuss pedagogy for the benefit of their students.
  • Hub Managers will disseminate this work to the region, in the hope of expanding the delivery model and encouraging the promotion of rare instruments.

Delivery of this project will have taken place by 9 July 2022.

For further information about this project please contact:
Janice Pounds, Accent MEH –  07825 844065

A strategy for the future of digital engagement through the eyes of children and young people

Partners: The South West London Music Education Partnership (SWLMEP)

SWLMEP wants to use youth voice to understand how children and young people have perceived the role of technology in their music education during the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to know our students’ opinions on the strengths and weaknesses of technology-driven musical activity and what learning we can take forward to codesign the innovative future use of technology in Music Education Hubs. The project would be framed around Dr Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR Model for the integration of technology into education. Using the
SAMR model will show which activities have substituted an analogue method for a digital one and those that have genuinely redefined the future of Music Education, achieving outcomes that were not previously possible without technology.

The SWLMEP proposes that Lawrence Becko is engaged as a consultant on this project. Lawrence is a creative consultant, coach and facilitator with a specialism in the area of Youth Voice. Working with Lawrence will give the project a robust external viewpoint and will provide the SWLMEP with a “critical friend” as we interpret the information gathered from the children and young people.

For further information about this project please contact:
Gareth Gay, Head of Sutton Music Service (Cognus Limited)
07534 526685

Commissioning a diversified offer to schools 

Partners: Gateshead and South Tyneside Music Education Hub

The fund will be used to support the embedding of a new partnership for Gateshead and South Tyneside Music Education Hub. Neither music services have capacity to or can offer a programme of South Asian Music and other more diverse genres represented through Gem Arts. The funding would release online videos created by Gem Arts for the Music Services to promote in schools, and commission Gem Arts to run consultation meetings with local community groups that both music services are not currently connected to in their Local Authorities.   Gem Arts are based in Gateshead, but work across other Local Authorities. This project would bring Gem Arts formally into the Gateshead and South Tyneside Music Education Hub as a key partner, bringing a more diverse range of musical expertise and genre to our offer. The fund would be used as seed funding to apply for other funding (Arts Council, trusts and foundations, Youth Music etc) to embed the relationship into the partnership. Schools will be signposted to Gem Arts music education offer, either as part of yearly SLAs, or stand alone projects that schools can purchase to increase the diversity and range of genres children can access.  Gateshead Music Service does not have a culture of commissioning other organisations. South Tyneside does, but does not have a formal link with Gem Arts currently. This project brings a new way of working for the Hub as both LAs will be commissioning one organisation to work across the partnership to deliver music activities not currently offered through our staffing skills/knowledge and expertise. It supports our hybrid approach to ongoing teaching and learning, coming out of the pandemic, but making use of resources that have already been created, by experts in their genre and field (the videos already created by Gem Arts).  Schools will be supported to link the online videos to general Music Curriculum outcomes.   Sage Gateshead (a current key partner to the Hub) and Gem Arts have agreed to link this activity to their joint music programme, offering opportunities for Young People to attend concerts at Sage Gateshead.

We want to do this as we don’t currently provide an offer across the Hub for this genre of music, and the activities directly link to our Hub Music Inclusion Strategy Priorities both for inclusion and innovation. The project will start with access to Dhol Drumming videos and workshops in schools in the Autumn Term, with community consultation and offers of small group Dhol Drumming tuition in schools from Spring 2022.

For further information about this project please contact:
Rebecca Pedlow

Tutor Diversity Ambassadors

Partners: Barnet Education Arts Trust, Bexley Music, Bromley Youth Music Trust, Ealing Music Service, Enfield Music Service, Hackney Music Service, Lambeth Music Service, Lewisham Music, Newham Music, Royal Greenwich Music Service, Tri Borough Music Hub & Waltham Forest Music Hub

The events of the summer of 2020 led a number of London Hubs to form a Diversity, Representation and Action reference group who developed a Terms of Reference and Project Action Plan. This fed into Music Mark’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion research and report led by Samantha Spence. This project will address the following recommendations within that report:

  • Recognise that traumatic events such as Black people being murdered at the hands of the police, and personal experiences of racism, can hugely impact mental health and wellbeing, which in turn can have an effect on work performance, and find ways to support staff who need it
  • Develop a network through partnerships with other MEHs or organisations, committed to improving diversity and inclusion in the music education sector and use existing sector-specific expertise in tackling shared issues
  • Find ways to amplify the voices of those from underrepresented groups, involve them in discussions and action planning and implement strategies to support their progression into leadership.

12 London Music Hubs will use this funding to establish a network of Tutor Diversity Ambassadors (TDA) across London. The TDA role will create a constructive bridge between the workforce and Hub management; advocate for and support all tutors (especially those from underrepresented groups); engage colleagues (including management) with discussions around EDI; support a caring and inclusive organisational (including with regards to mental health and welfare); change perceptions about the organisation and sector; create EDI-focused networks; and act as an ambassador for Hubs in the media.

The Innovation Fund and cash-funding from the Hub partners will fund the TDAs to be trained and mentored by SLS360, a research and consultancy firm specialising in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion within the arts and music education sector. The training will take place with other TDAs from their who will form clusters. The first term will involve networking, training and mentoring within these clusters, before developing into a network of TDAs across all 12 London Hubs.

The funding will also fund pay the TDA a minimum of 30 hours per term across the 2021-2022 academic year to undertake this role which will be an additional duty from their teaching work. The TDAs will use these hours for training/mentoring; working with their own Hub workforce and with colleagues from other partner hubs.

Crucially, all Hubs have committed to funding this role themselves in the long-term. This one-off investment from the Hub Innovation Fund will therefore create a long-term, sustainable change within these organisations. It is anticipated that the TDA role will ‘rotate’ every 12-18 months, giving others within the workforce the opportunity to take on this leadership role and develop themselves personally and professionally. Although the TDA role during this pilot will be specifically focused on EDI through the lens of race/racism, they will represent all tutors with protected characters. In addition, it is anticipated that in the future the role will focus on a different unrepresented group, for example gender, disability, religion or sexuality. In the long-term, the TDA role will allow Hubs to  continually evolve to respond to these issues and foster an organisation which truly values Representation, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

For further information about this project please contact:
Charly Richardson, CEO, Lewisham Music

Regional collaborative ED&I strategy

Partners:  MEHs: Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Rutland

External: Changing Tracks (tbc), The Mighty Creatives (tbc), Orchestras Live (tbc)


Develop a MEHEM wide ED&I collaborative strategy which will take immediate action to improve ED&I in music education across the region.

Act upon recent documentation and recommendations from a range of sources, as well as local knowledge, to implement a MEHEM approach to ED&I:

  1. a) Music Mark ED&I Report by Sam Spence April 2021 – A research report exploring workforce diversity and representation in London Music Education Hubs through the lens of racism.
  2. b) Youth Music Guidance for MEHs 2018 – Developing an inclusive approach to the core and extension roles
  3. c) Youth Music ED&I Toolkit – Inclusion strategy & planning | Youth Music Network
  4. d) Changing Tracks Annual Findings 2020 – Embedding Inclusion in the strategy and delivery of music services (Northamptonshire Existing Partner)
  5. e) Local MEH existing ED&I strategies


Secure an ED&I external consultant/project lead to oversee the process and:

  1. a) manage the development of the MEHEM ED&I Theory of Change
  2. b) explore the range of starting points – ED&I Local MEH Champions (MEHEM ED&I working party)
  3. c) Prioritise existing recommendations from recent documentations
  4. d) identify existing best practice e.g. MEHEM UpRsing! (Conversation with Ben Sellers)
  5. e) Identify MEHEM ED&I SMART recommendations such as

ED&I Awareness (Training)

Developing Diverse Workforce

Diversifying MEH offer

  1. f) creation of a ED&I strategy with a clear actions timeline
  2. g) Agreement and dissemination of MEHEM ED&I Pledge (MEH Partners)

For further information about this project please contact:
Jennifer McKie, Head of Service, Lincolnshire Music Education Hub

EDI with a particular focus on equity of in-school music-making

Partners: North Tyneside Music Education Hub, Music Partnership North – Newcastle, Music Partnership North – Northumberland & Sunderland Music hub

We will work in partnership with regional Music Education Hubs to improve quality, access, diversity and equity in our offers, with a particular focus on equity of in-school music-making. We want to build upon and take learning from our Music Changemakers project, which currently works with community musicians, to develop a programme of School Music Changemakers, ensuring that each area has a number of classroom, peripatetic and newly qualified teachers who are able to lead musical change in their schools and in their LA area. We will do this by: investing in thorough research and development across the three music education hub areas, recruiting a group of School Music Changemakers to support us to lead change, investing in a joined-up CPD offer that puts inclusion and quality at the heart of music teaching.

For further information about this project please contact:
Julie Dorr

Music mentoring for inclusive and diverse opportunities

Partners: The South West Coastal Hub Alliance – Southampton, Dorset Music Service, IoW Music Hub & SoundStorm (BCP Music Hub)

The South West Coastal Hub Alliance will develop our approaches to music mentoring to make opportunities more inclusive and more diverse. In Southampton, Isle of Wight and Dorset, music mentoring forums will bring together young people and their mentors: to learn about the approaches and activities which work best, and then to shape what the future of these programmes looks like. In Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, a new mentoring pilot programme will test new approaches to mentor children in challenging circumstances as they make music digitally.

For further information about this project please contact:
Matt Brombley

Strategic network of City Based Music Education Hubs

Partners: Brighton & Hove Music & Arts, Hull Music Hub, Luton Music Service & Portsmouth Music Service

We are creating a strategic network of City Based Music Education Hubs. This network will inform, improve and challenge our existing business planning and hub strategies, as well as becoming a strategic platform for funding applications and improved strategic alignment. The five identified hubs are not an exhaustive list and the programme could be expanded based on future funding.

Initially, using our CLA partners – our Virtual Schools – we will compare, contrast and quantify areas of strength and weakness. IF CLA/Virtual school does not fit our joint strategy then we will pursue other lines of collaboration.

We will identify partners that can deliver locally and across the network with pilot workshops. We will then agree a funding source and complete a major funding application to support our agreed area of work across the new network.

We will report our findings to our Regional Music Mark Groups for wider dissemination and sharing of good practice. We aim to be ready to submit additional funding applications by summer 2022.

For further information about this project please contact:
James Dickinson

Music Mark is grateful to Arts Council England and the Department for Education who have provided £90,000 for this Hub Innovation Fund.


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About the Provider

Music Mark

We are a membership organisation, Subject Association, and an Arts Council England Investment Principles Support Organisation (IPSO) advocating for excellent musical learning in and out of school.