13 Jun 2018

Celebrating the Early Years at our brilliant Conference!

On Tuesday 1 May, NYMAZ held its bi-annual Early Years Music Network Conference, an event for professionals working at the juncture between valuable music-making, early-years and development. Delegates were treated to contributions from Rebecca Denniff, The Halle; Jo Brockbank, Polly Ives, Made with Music; Hannah Dilworth and Kathryn Sturman, TakeArt; Jane Parker and Caroline Barnes, Sage Gateshead; Carol Bowden and Eleanor Mooney, Music Hub; Nell Farrally, and CREC; Zoe Greenhalgh.

What did delegates think of the day?

‘High quality, extremely adaptable and brilliant fun’
‘It has been refreshing and inspirational’
‘instilled good practice, and brought it to life’

After an inspiring and enthusiastic warm up from Rebecca Denniff, who got delegates energised with some classic singing and movement, Jo Brockbank opened the programme with a presentation about how the Hallé have integrated Early Years delivery into their organisation. Jo shared how making Early Years a central part of the Hallé’s education programme has developed the players love of sharing with their community. For the last four years, Hallé Education has staged interactive concerts for families. This model of fantastically fun and interactive sessions is a brilliant introduction to the instruments of the orchestra for Early Years and left the delegates brimming with new ideas of how to engage with their communities further.

Followed by an insightful look at how Music Education Hubs can support Early Years music-making, which provided a thought provoking talk into how we as practitioners can develop and embed our skills further to enhance the musical experiences available to young people.
Delegates enjoyed the opportunity to network with colleagues old and new, discussing the presentations over coffee and biscuits before heading to their own workshops.

Splitting into two groups, delegates then took part in two workshops; Polly Ives ‘bringing nursery rhymes to life’ and Made with Music ‘Exploring the NYMAZ Songbook’.

Hannah and Kathryn from Made with Music explored how to use the NYMAZ Early Years Songbook in your every day practise. Demonstrating transferable skills, and adaptions to fit a range of situations Early Years practitioners come across. Building a den out of material, spreading laughter and highlighting the importance of sharing small successes made this workshop a ‘high quality, refreshing and a brilliantly fun way of instilling good practise’ for delegates to take away in their own practise.


Polly Ives workshop introduced delegates to a variety of ways of engaging, motivating and instilling a love of music within their sessions through reinvigorating nursery rhymes. A resource everyone has access to but which many teachers and practitioners have little experience of adapting in the context of their music-making. An extremely popular workshop, leaving delegates wanting more and feeling enthused to try out new ideas and skills in their own settings straight away.


After these sessions delegates had worked up an appetite and tucked in to some lovely lunch whilst enjoying the opportunity to continue networking and discussing their new ideas which had been inspired by the mornings events.

During the lunch break the fantastic opportunity to apply for a NYMAZ bursary to complete the Certificate for Music Educators: Early Years took place. We invited delegates to come and discuss the exciting proposal and ask any questions about the course before applying. It was lovely to see so many practitioners wanting to develop their own practise and take up this brilliant offer.

After lunch delegates returned to the conference room where Jane Parker and Caroline Barnes from TakeArt discussed the challenges and rewards of a multi-agency, multi-county music project of theirs ‘soundwave’. Celebrating the small musical steps, which lead to a big musical impact within Early Years settings.

Rebecca Denniff shared her work on developing pedagogies within NYMAZ and Musicport project ‘Music Tots’ based in Whitby.

Sharing key aspects of her work and delivery with Early Years sessions, getting delegates to consider the importance of structure and repertoire in their sessions. Sharing ideas and advice for anyone wanting to work in similar settings with community groups.


In further parallel sessions delegates had the opportunity to enjoy a second demonstration of music-making ideas which they could take away and use. Made with Music held their Songbook workshop for a second time for anyone who had missed out in the morning, whilst Sage Gateshead’s Carol Bowden and Eleanor Mooney led ‘Early Years and the Common Third’. A look at practical and organisational ideas for Early Years music delivery.

Carol and Eleanor demonstrated some of their highly successful Early Years programme delivery, which involved high levels of musical performance, interaction and fun!


Exploring the use of puppets and props in songs Carol and Eleanor left the delegates ‘enthused with inspirational ideas’ and transferable skills to take away and use.

Thanks go to all the speakers who contributed and to all the delegates who attended what was an informative and inspiring event. We had a fantastic afternoon and are looking forward to the next conference already!

Tags | Early Years | Music projects | Practice-sharing | Training & CPD

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