Learning pathways

Children and adults at an RCM Sparks events, smiling and playing recycled instruments
One of RCM Sparks' primary goals is to provide accessible, long-term learning pathways for children from underrepresented groups. Our activities and partnerships are carefully designed to achieve this goal.

83% of participants

are from underrepresented groups

In the 2022-23 academic year

For children in local boroughs

Working closely with the Tri-Borough Music Hub, we run a series of programmes for young people in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham and the City of Westminster and/or for those who meet one of RCM Sparks' eligibility criteria. We form partnerships with local children's centres, schools and charitable organisations, always striving to make quality music education available to those facing barriers or where provision is lacking.

Mini Sparks (ages 0-3)

Our specialist Early Years programme Mini Sparks has been running since 2015, and takes place in local libraries, children's centres or community centres. Our aim is to ensure quality early music education is available to those who otherwise might not be able to afford it or where provision is lacking, right at the start of a family’s musical journey.

Led by early years music specialists and supported by RCM students, this programme takes a child-centred approach, placing spontaneous, playful and creative music making at the heart of their musical learning. Key to the success of the scheme is encouraging communication through music.

Sparks Juniors (from age 6)

Sparks Juniors is an exciting collaboration between RCM Sparks and the RCM Junior Department launched in September 2009. The revised initiative in 2023 offers 4 pupils a fully funded five-year programme of high-quality tuition led by RCMJD staff and Royal College of Music student mentors. 

Sparks Juniors is aimed at young people from our local partner schools who would not normally be able to access such an opportunity. Currently, 80% of young people on the Sparks Juniors programme are from underrepresented backgrounds. 

Sparks Juniors provides a secure and advanced foundation through Kodaly and Dalcroze learning, targeted musicianship lessons, one-to-one instrumental tuition and ensemble playing. It aims to provide a clear progression route into the RCM Junior Department, Tri-Borough Music Hub or other suitable pathways for the individual learner. In addition, RCM Sparks’ Connect programme, launched in 2023, continues a relationship with Sparks Juniors and Get, Set, Play participants after their graduation, offering concerts, workshops and other inspiring opportunities at the RCM.  

Get, Set, Play (from age 6)

Get, Set, Play is an annual 6-week series of friendly and inspiring music sessions in community centres, for families living locally in the Tri-borough. Devised with family wellbeing in mind, this fun, innovative programme run in partnership with Groove n' Play includes singing, playing the recorder, ukulele and percussion. It also involves lots of interactive games, quizzes, and even dancing together! Research has shown that regular music-making can reduce stress and anxiety in both adults and children. We bring busy families together and inject a little sparkle into Saturdays, culminating in an exciting show, supported by live musicians at the Royal College of Music.

After this 6-week introductory programme, children are invited to apply for funded music lessons and/or choir opportunities with the Tri-borough Music Hub (subject to age/availability).

After the age of 7

Children in the local area who have enjoyed our programme for under 8s are encouraged to continue their relationship with RCM Sparks through our public events and to make the best use of other schemes offered by the Tri-Borough Music Hub. Many will be eligible for subsidy, enabling children from lower income families to continue their journey and grow their passion for music.

Particularly talented children are encouraged to audition for the RCM Junior Department, a world-class Saturday school for musicians aged 8-18. An enhanced bursary programme is available to support students from lower socio-economic backgrounds on our Sparks Juniors programme, helping them to progress to the RCM Junior Department and on to undergraduate study as a senior College student.

RCM Sparks has a long history of running exciting and engaging Springboard Composition Courses for young people age 12-18. In 2022 Sparks launched a fully-funded year-long Young Composers Course for a group of 14 and 15 year olds per year from local schools and community groups (all who meet one of RCM Sparks' eligibility criteria). The course allows the participants, many with little or no experience of composition, to unlock their creative minds and develop their musical personalities in the inspiring surroundings of the Royal College of Music, raising aspirations and providing insight into composition at higher education level. 

The Springboard Composition Courses are generously supported by Jane Avery in memory of Robert Avery. 

Looking to learn an instrument?

If you live in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham or the City of Westminster, you have access to tuition and other initiatives provided by the Tri-borough Music Hub.

Tri-borough Music Hub services

In addition, the Royal College of Music provides a dedicated service for members of the public, adults or children, who would like to learn how to play an instrument, how to sing, how to compose and those who would like to learn music theory.

RCM Teaching Service

The Music Mark website provides an interactive map to find your local music service.

Find my local music service

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