Like the sound produced by its musicians in concert, Nottingham Music Hub’s vision to inspire children and young people through music is bold and wonderful. The charity works hard to provide music education excellence across a diverse range of educational settings including primary schools, secondary schools, pupil referral units, and special schools. I spoke with Hannah Barrs, Nottingham Music Hub’s Programmes and Partnerships Coordinator, to find out about the sorts of activities and events that Nottingham Music Hub is working on, and how their vision relates to arts, culture and education in and around Nottingham.
As Hannah describes, Nottingham Music Hub’s core remit is to engage children and young people with learning music, and learning musical instruments in particular; an educational vision that is realised both within schools and outside of them. Some of the in-school projects involve whole-class ensemble teaching, starter orchestras such as the Area Bands, and follow on music lessons for pupils who want to continue learning an instrument after finishing primary school. Additionally, continued professional development (CPD) is offered by Nottingham Music Hub with the aim of empowering school staff to be able to engage young people with music, and supporting teachers as a network of music-leads to raise the profile of music in schools and share good practice. Outside of school, Nottingham Music Hub offers a wide range of ensembles to be a part of (Young Voices Choir, Robin Hood Youth Orchestra, Guitar Group, Salsa Jazz - the list goes on!) as well as an exciting number of concerts and events around Nottingham where the young musicians can show off what they have learnt. I was lucky enough to attend one of these concerts in July, though “exciting” is probably an understatement! Performing compositions from Pixar movies to Florence Price, the combined force of the Robin Hood Youth Orchestra (RHYO), the Area Bands, and Nottingham Music Hub’s sister orchestra from Germany (Jugendorchester Stadt Karlsruhe) electrified an atmosphere with vibrancy and colour; a performance fit for their stage at St. Mary’s Church, it was at once epic and elegant.
The concert at St. Mary’s in the Lace Market is just one example of the many public facing projects that Nottingham Music Hub has been involved with. Hannah tells me that these events are not only a great opportunity for the young musicians to perform to an audience, but an experience that reveals how important they are to the arts and cultural scene in Nottingham. This is fundamental to Nottingham Music Hub’s vision which recognises their role in making music accessible to children and young people foremost, and, importantly, showing that arts and cultural venues welcome these young people too. This is crucial for promoting music projects that are wholly inclusive, and moving beyond the stigma that music and the arts are for meant for some and not others. Nottingham Music Hub’s work with organisations such as Creatives United and the One-Handed Musical Instrument Trust are positive examples of how this mission can be realised collaboratively, but the Hub’s collaborative network doesn’t stop here! Speaking with Hannah, it is inspiring to hear that Nottingham Music Hub also works with musicians, universities and festivals to encourage children and young people’s engagement with the arts. The “Summer Sing” event on the 21st June involved working with the A Capella vocal group Apollo 5 at the Albert Hall, a collaboration with Nottingham University and Making Tracks at the Lakeside Arts Centre last year amounted to a fantastic arts workshop for those attending, and the relationship between Nottingham Music Hub and Bulwell Arts Festival meant that RHYO was able to perform there in July. As Hannah explains, it is these sorts of opportunities that are vital for bringing everything and everyone together.
Working with others is a key step in promoting children and young people’s engagement with the arts; an attitude that is championed by both Nottingham Music Hub and ChalleNGe. In speaking with Hannah, she tells me that being part of ChalleNGe and having the opportunity to have strong links to the wider arts and cultural community is invaluable. ChalleNGe plays a major role in creating a coordinated effort across the arts sector in Nottingham, and practically this can mean helping each other out when faced with difficulties. When Nottingham Music Hub was struggling to find ensemble rehearsal spaces last year, Hannah explains, Nottingham Contemporary and Nottingham Playhouse stepped in to provide the much needed venues for rehearsal. For Hannah, collaboration is as supportive as it is enriching – a benefit that is felt by all of those who love the arts and culture in Nottingham.
Written by Noah Clifton, Sept 2022
Noah Clifton is a graduate in BA (Hons) Education from Nottingham Trent University. With a background in Jazz and having teaching experience both within school and as a private tutor, education and the arts are subjects that Noah is inspired by and passionate about. Noah aims to help encourage engagement with the arts and culture in Nottingham through his work with ChalleNGe.
Hannah Barrs, Prpgrammes and Partnerships Coordinator, Nottingham Music Hub
Nottingham Music Hub collaborates with, among others:
- Local Primary Schools
- Nottingham City Secondary Schools
- Nottingham City SEND / EBD Schools
- Professional Musicians
- The University Of Nottingham
- Making Tracks
- Creatives United
- One-Handed Musical Instrument Trust
- Lakeside Arts Centre
- Nottingham Contemporary
- Nottingham Playhouse