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An RCM Sparks Get, Set, Play Online session underway

RCM Sparks digital toolkit supports families, schools and local community during lockdown

Monday 27 July 2020

RCM Sparks has launched a new digital toolkit to continue its essential work with schools and the local community during lockdown. The Royal College of Music’s learning and participation programme has been operating digitally since March 2020, with the new toolkit designed to ensure its widening participation work continues despite the disruption to schools and communities caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Through the toolkit, teachers are able to access RCM Sparks’ lunchtime concerts and download accompanying resources for follow-up work with students, while families can access practical activities for primary aged children through to teenagers. The Mini Sparks course (ages 0-3) continues via video ‘song bundles’, which are available online. Children and families signed up to the Sparks Juniors course (ages 3-8) have attended weekly live workshops with the RCMJD teaching team during lockdown, including an end of term celebration hosted on Zoom.

RCM Sparks’ Get Set Play (ages 6-8) course has been running digitally, ensuring the continued engagement of children and families from underrepresented groups. In partnership with the Royal Albert Hall, Groove 'n' Play and the Tri-Borough Music Hub, the project saw family groups from two local community centres in North Kensington and East Acton join RCM Sparks leaders for fun and interactive weekly Zoom sessions. Participants had instrument packs delivered to them at home and enjoyed playing the recorder, ukulele and percussion, as well as singing and dancing together.

The innovative and accessible content for Get Set Play Online was devised and produced by Groove ‘n’ Play composer Sally Greaves, presented by Pip Bryan with support from Albert’s Band member and RCM student, Fran Warren. On a weekly basis, the team adapted the programme of learning and responded to families’ contributions to ensure maximum enjoyment and engagement for all those taking part in the sessions. All children involved in the course have access to subsidised music tuition with the Tri-Borough Music Hub, providing a vital pathway of continued music learning.

Sally Greaves comments: ‘The challenge for the Get Set Play Online team was to create the same exciting high-energy learning environment as we have in the live sessions, overcoming any barriers presented by the virtual space. I am proud to say we have thoroughly enjoyed embracing this challenge. It has been a real privilege to meet and work with all the participating families as well as seeing and hearing their amazing responses each week.’

One participant said: ‘My favourite thing about Get Set Play Online was how brilliantly the lesson was facilitated and presented. It is by far the best Zoom course we’ve taken part in. I was worried at first because I’m not very tech savvy but I learnt how to make a video and work as a team with my daughter. We managed to join in easily and were kept entertained and engaged throughout. Most importantly, we had fun!’

Starting today, RCM Sparks’ Summer Music returns for family Pop-up Percussion sessions as well as two week-long online courses: Explorers, which will bring to life some of the most fascinating items from the Royal College of Music Museum with music-making, storytelling and theatrics; and Springboard, a composition course focusing on writing a ‘chain letter in sound’ via daily Zoom workshops. With these courses, RCM Sparks will widen their geographical reach, making the most of online delivery to engage families in areas they haven’t previously worked with. The programme will continue digitally for autumn 2020, working with the Tri-Borough Music Hub and local secondary, primary and community settings to support the curriculum as schools return to face-to-face teaching and learning.

To find out more about RCM Sparks courses and resources, please visit our digital resources page.