Music teachers who totally revamped their department and went online to keep music lessons alive during the pandemic have been shortlisted for a better gong.
The North Wales Music Cooperative, which includes sister organizations in Denbighshire and Wrexham, has been nominated in the technology category, ‘tech for good’, of the prestigious Social Business Wales Awards.
News that they had been shortlisted for the illustrious honor came as the cooperative‘Popular group Make Some Noise was in the middle of a virtual tour, reaching over 200 schools in North Wales and beyond.
Founder and department head Heather Powell said the co-op members were “over the moon” to be one of three finalists in their award category.
She said: “It’s a resounding endorsement of all the hard work our tutors and administrative staff have done over the past 18 months.
“We have had to completely transform the way we operate as we successfully overcome the many challenges we have faced in sustaining music education during the pandemic.”
The cooperative is shortlisted in the Tech for Good category of awards, which requires it to demonstrate how it has used innovative technology to achieve high social impact.
Heather added: ““Even before the pandemic, we were looking for ways to use technology to make our music curriculum more inclusive, but when the coronavirus hit our plans were accelerated in ways we never could have envisioned. .
“Music is proven to improve children’s numeracy, literacy, confidence and well-being. It should not only be seen as a complementary lesson, it is a basic subject beneficial for all.
After it became impossible to give music lessons in person, they moved quickly to introduce online lessons, bringing them to a wider audience than ever before by producing video tutorials and offering direct online lessons.
They worked tirelessly to maintain the availability of music education at a time when many music learners feared that they would completely lose the chance to master an instrument or take vocal lessons.
In the past, at the start of each school year, the cooperative music group, Make Some Noise, toured over 200 Denbighshire schools to introduce themselves and how students could benefit from music lessons through the cooperative music tutors.
But in 2020 the tour had to leave “virtual“with the group transmitting online from their head office to Spencer Iindustrial Estate, Denbigh. They always communicated with over 200 schools, but did so through online performances that were broadcast directly to multiple schools at once.
This format was repeated again for the 2021/22 school year and the band gave five concerts a day for four or five schools at a time, connecting with each through online technology.
Cllr Co-op President Mark Young said: “To be honest I was very moved seeing the band playing and the fantastic reaction from the kids on the screens that were displayed in the studio. It was the first time in over a year that I had seen a live musical performance, and it was quite overwhelming.
“The group is highly skilled and the way they interacted with the children using cutting edge technology was extremely impressive.”
UK Musicians Union Education Officer David Barnard also attended one of the daily sessions.
He said: “What a great performance – great acting and vocals with a good sense of humor. The children were clearly engaged and even those for whom playing an instrument is not of interest will have learned something new. Congratulations to Heather and the team for this wonderful initiative and for bringing so many smiles to the faces of hundreds of children.“
The virtual format means that for the first time the cooperative has managed to reach beyond its usual audience, attracting schools further afield, including across the Welsh border in Shropshire and even as far as Cardiff to watch Make Some Noise in action.
Over the past year, Heather said the co-op was able to hire apprentice Lewis Pearson and manager and IT specialist Jacob Hamblett to help organize the new technology behind the scenes.
Make Some Noise entertained young audiences with popular musical numbers ranging from movie hits “The Greatest Showman “, on the theme of the TV show “Peppa Pig”.
During each 40-minute performance, they introduce students to each member of the group and explain their instruments, including the fact that the harp has 47 strings and seven pedals.
The group includes energetic singer / percussionist Matty Roberts, harpist Dylan Cernyw, violin / cello Emily Rowlands, brass and bass guitarist Aled Williams, tuba and cornet player Scott Lloyd, guitarist Wyn Pearson, drummer Ben Neal, and on saxophone, clarinet and flute, Matt Deacon.
In response to the performance of the concert, Wrexham director Gaynor Purcell of St Chad‘s primary school, sent an immediate thank you message to the cooperative.
She said: “Everyone appreciated the performance which did honor to the professionalism and dedication of the cooperative’s music teachers.