Tiny Sparks 2017

Project Summary

Musicians Arun Ghosh and Dave 'Stickman' Higgins were in residence linked to children's centres in the east and west pre-school clusters, for 2 days over an 11 week period, working with vulnerable children and their families in each location. They worked with 427 participants in either private nurseries or local authority children's centres.

CPD was an important feature of the project with parents and setting staff working alongside both musicians in each session, plus specific cpd sessions for staff. Culminating in a visit by nearly 50 people to see Whoosh a high quality live music performance as part of the Spark Festival specifically created for 1-4 year olds. 3-4 weeks after the end of the project the musicians returned to see how staff and children were progressing.

Each setting was left with a selection of relevant musical instruments and also a film resource which captured ideas, schemes of work and provided suggestions for future activities. This was to ensure participants have the tools to continue and the skills/confidence to use them.

Fimn Resources created

Project Conclusion

Our evaluation looked at how we had achieved our outcomes:

Outcome 1: Children improve language and pre-language skills.

All the children's speaking was recorded on the Johnson Wintgens scale and all children progressed at least two levels. Children also made progress on the Leuven scales for Involvement and Wellbeing.

Outcome 2: Increase capacity for children to use music activities with their children.

Dave and Arun were particularly good at including parents in all the relevant sessions and this is reflected in the positive feedback collected through parent questionnaires for example: Has your child learnt anything new? 100% responded yes. Have you learnt anything new? 92% responded yes.
Do you have a better understanding of how music play helps children learn? 100% responded yes Have you tried any of the music activities at home?' 100% responded yes Do you play with music and sounds at home together?' 100% responded yes.

Outcome 3: To increase the capacity of setting staff to use music activities in their work:

Very positive responses through the practitioner questionnaire responses eg in answer to the question what do you feel you learnt?

  • That our children love to make noise
  • Children love making a noise, the louder the better
  • Our children love it!
  • Making different sounds and making up rhymes.
  • Music brings people together.
  • The importance of making sounds and making rhymes up.
  • Ideas for music activities to do at nursery.
  • I have learned how to play musical instruments in a fun and enjoyable way for the children.
  • Just how important music/singing is in regard to language development.
  • This fantastic opportunity has given us lots of ideas as well as the confidence to be much more creative when planning for these sessions" Little Willows practitioner

The quality of the musicians and their approach was immediately engaging. The use of music as a tool was accessible and it caught the imagination of children, practitioners and parents alike. There was an even greater impact on more disadvantaged children reflected in their measurements on the Scale of Confident Speaking. The teachers felt that these children had so much more to learn and that music had a particularly powerful impact and was therefore very useful in 'narrowing the gap' between children. There was also an unexpected impact on babies. They weren't the target participants and were often present incidentally as siblings. Practitioners noticed they were also participating and making progress in their responses.

Particular impact on parental involvement – helped them connect with their children. 100% reported learning something new. Parent reported 'therapy for me'. This is incredibly helpful in these areas of Leicester with such high social deprivation. It brought joy into the sessions – impossible to measure.
The impact of using male practitioners in a mainly female environment also increased the impact. Both musicians felt the follow up visits were brilliant and something they would consider for all of their own projects going forward. The ability for them to be out of the setting for a few weeks, and then revisit, created an opportunity for them to take a step back and review the sessions which made the impact and growth of the children even more clear.

Evaluation Report available on request from carrie@thesparkarts.co.uk

Tiny Sparks 2017 was supported by Youth Music and using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, The Edith Murphy Foundation, The John & Susan Bowers Fund and Open Gate Trust.