About Music First
Music First is a new and ambitious 21st century music education programme that transforms young lives, families and communities through music, currently working in the borough of Islington.
The charity was set up in the belief that learning to play an instrument and play music with others brings many non-musical benefits. Recognising that music is not on the curriculum in many schools, we aim to provide these musical opportunities particularly to those who might otherwise struggle to access them.
Established in 2009, we provide a music education pathway for children from 7-13, working with linked Primary Schools with a varied socio/economic intake. This includes building music lessons into the school curriculum, as well as extra-curricular musical activities.
The project was inspired by Venezuela’s El Sistema programme, which has provided over 300,000 children from the poorest backgrounds with orchestra-based music education in the last thirty years.
Music First’s activity in Islington currently includes two Music First Hubs running after-school activities on a weekly basis, each of which is linked to local primary schools, and The Islington Youth Orchestra, which provides an opportunity for primary and secondary school pupils to rehearse and perform together.
Music First works alongside Arts First (the Islington Education hub, who provide curriculum support for all schools in the borough). Arts First run and coordinate the whole class Wider Opportunities instrumental lessons in school time.
The chance to perform regularly, both formally and informally, is a key feature of Music First, and so is involving parents and the wider community. For example, termly sharing sessions are also held for pupils to demonstrate their progress over the term and for parents/carers to watch and join in. There is also an annual concert at the Hackney Empire.
How do we work?