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How can you spot musical potential in a group of young people?

Just as a seed can only grow into a flower if it’s planted and nurtured, a child with musical potential can only flourish if their potential is identified and supported.

Awards for Young Musicians believe that all musically talented young people should have the opportunity to develop their talent. Their work isfocused on helping young people with exceptional potential from lower-income backgrounds achieve their musical goals.

The sad fact is that children from lower income families are less likely to have their potential spotted at the earliest stage of music making. As many families on lower incomes cannot afford instrumental tuition outside school it’s within whole class music tuition in schools or other group settings where potential must be spotted. Research has regularly found that many music leaders (particularly class teachers in primary schools) have limited confidence in how to identify, support and nurture potential and that professional development tends not to focus on this important issue.

So in 2008 Awards for Young Musicians initiated an action research programme to look at how musical potential can be spotted in a group music making session. They brought together South West Music School, Music Leader, the Universities of Exeter and Bristol, musician Hugh Nankivell and film maker Bob Lockwood. Together they carried out research and used the findings to develop a training programme and series of film resources to help music leaders. With further funding, through Youth Music’s Spotlighting programme, they undertook more filming work and created an online film resource, available to all through the links below.

The resource includes over 40 clips from a variety of real life group music activities, to demonstrate the key facets of musical potential as identified by primary and secondary class teachers, peripatetics, community musicians, music services and music and other arts organisations.

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