Music leader Rebecca Gross reflects on the NYMAZ Early Years Music Conference
The NYMAZ Early Years Music Network Conference was held in Pickering at the end of February, and brought delegates and practitioners together from all over North Yorkshire and beyond. It is rare for such an event to come to the edge of the North York Moors, but what a great opportunity to network and share practice it was.
Speakers and practitioners delivered sessions from a broad range of different approaches to music making in the early years, allowing delegates to attend sessions that would really give them opportunities to improve and enrich their practice and take new skills back to their settings the very next day.
Music education specialist Sue Nicholls delivered a brilliant keynote speech, reminding us how important music is and what a transformative experience participating in really effective music making can be for even the youngest babies and children. It was really useful to have the opportunity to stop and consider our own practice and to remember that a child-centred approach to music education is crucial for success. Sue also reminded us that music is the one subject that supports all other areas of the curriculum, and that we can use music to deliver many other aspects of early learning. This was a theme that recurred throughout the day – reinforcing the importance of music education right across the educational journey of all children.
After Sue’s keynote I had the pleasure of leading all of the delegates and practitioners in song – what an amazing and inspiring sound we all made. Smiling faces and lovely harmonies gave everybody a real boost and prepared them for the day to come.
Although the range of pedagogical approaches that were on offer was diverse, all could and should be used in combination to create a rich and inspiring learning environment to practitioners and children alike, and seeing and experiencing them side by side at a conference like this one brings that sharply into focus.
Sessions included Dalcroze Eurythmics with Bethan Habron-James, Singing for SEND with the inspiring early years specialist Ann Stott, ‘All Aboard’ from Music4U, as well as opportunities to explore new resources available and the revised EYFS curriculum and its impact on music delivery. Another highlight was the brilliant lunchtime concert with Musiko Musika.
The value of these NYMAZ conferences as opportunities to come together and share practice can be really difficult to measure – but everyone who participates in them agrees that they are both an invaluable learning opportunity and a real highlight of the academic year.
The next event will be the rescheduled NYMAZ SEND Network conference, look out for it and take the opportunity to get inspired!